Friday, 30 April 2010

Welcome to Home Sweet Home

Well it is another bank holiday and that means one thing – time for some DIY. The property market may still be in a slump but people are still obsessed with their homes. The proof? Well property programmes are still popular and interior magazines are flying off the shelves. Also with Grand Designs LIVE kicking off tomorrow for the 6th year promising to be bigger and better it looks like homes are here to say. The environment you inhabit is very crucial to your state of mind; crappy home life equates to a pretty crappy state of mind. Which is why I so embrace blogs on interiors and crafts which show how we can make our homes a beautiful place. Therefore you can imagine my bemusement when I read an ever so snarky piece in Jezebel having a pop at a selected bloggers who focus on these things, accusing them of being pretentious and responsible for making other people feel inadequate. Come on Jezebel, get a grip! I enjoy reading your website and I enjoy the snarkiness when it is deserved but randomly attacking bloggers for having creative and inspiring blogs is just petty.

Anyway all the nastiness aside, over the last year I have noticed that the interior bloggers have developed a strong community so I have decided to celebrate this by launching Home Sweet Home. Which is an interiors special that will consist of articles and reviews relating to all things home related. We have a lot to look forward to such as a review of The Selby, the much awaited book by Todd Selby, an article on Open Houses where artists throw open their homes to the public so they can check out their artwork but tomorrow we will kick off with an interview with Jeska Hearne from Lobster and Swan who is our Blogger of the Month.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

In the Editor's Chair - Bec Brown

Finding out what you want to do when you are in your teens is a pretty big ask but sussing out your vocation at the age of five is pretty good going I say. That is what Bec Brown did when she put together her first every publication while most people were barely learning to write and read. I guess you could say that an editorial star was born. Fast forward 25 years and we have Bec as editor, publisher, art director and designer of Blanket Magazine which is a publication which covers art, design and photography. Based in Manchester, Bec also runs a successful freelance design business called sixheads. I caught up with her to find out about what life is like running your own magazine.

How did you get into journalism?
I am actually a designer more than a journalist. My background is photography and graphic design but I have always had a keen interest in writing as well. I guess that's why starting my own magazine was so appealing - I could combine all my interests in one neat package!

Describe the concept of Blanket magazine.
Blanket is an online PDF magazine that uncovers emerging and established artists, designers and photographers from all over the world. 

The design is very glam, how did you decide on the art design of the publication?
Thank you! Obviously because of my background in design and because I want to appeal to other visual creatives the design is always my top priority. I am a little bit of a perfectionist as well and I pay extra special attention to the small details that most people probably just flick over (but I know they are there!). For instance I always choose a different featured font for each issue, and I choose a specific colour palette for each issue. All of things are quite considered and I do spend a lot of time working on the design so that I can create a cohesive, beautiful and unique design each time.

Who is behind Blanket Magazine?
I originally started Blanket with a friend back in December 2006 but since 2007 I have been running it on my own.
How many members of staff work on the magazine? 
I have a regular team of around five to seven contributors who help with writing and design for each issue. We email back and forth and discuss ideas and then they send me their articles every two months. Blanket works more like a virtual office because my regular team of contributors are based all over the world - Australia, US and I am based in the UK. I communicate with them mainly via email or in the instance of my editorial assistant we talk via skype. We haven't actually ever met in person - so as you can see it's not very traditional! Although I have recently taken on a intern who comes into my studio once a week and it's been wonderful to have someone who I can talk with face to face! I do probably get less work done now! 

Describe a day in the life of Bec Brown. 
Everyday is different of course because I'm very hands on with the whole process of putting the magazine together from start to finish. I think the majority of my time is spent emailing. As Blanket is a bi-monthly publication I spend the first month emailing and gathering story ideas and interviews, then the next month I start collecting, editing and then designing the magazine. In between I do everything else - such as updating the website and social networking sites, emailing subscriptions, marketing, advertising, writing and designing. If I had to describe my favourite day then it would be when I am designing the magazine - this is when I am in my element and at my most happiest. 
Which blogs do you check out regularly?
A lot of art and design related blogs such as 

What magazines do you read? 
There are a pile on my desk right now which include:
Creative Review, Computer Arts, Monacle, Real Living, Living etc, Frankie and Dazed and Confused

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become a magazine editor?
I guess I have learn't from experience that you have to go out and create opportunities for yourself. Before I started my own magazine I couldn't get a job in the magazine industry because they said I didn't have enough experience. Obviously I'm not saying that you have to go out and start your own magazine but you need to show that you want to be taken seriously. There are a lot of opportunities out there and if you really want it then you will find a way.

The April/May issue of Blanket Magazine is out now and you can read it here.

You can follow Blanket Magazine on Twitter.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

My Space - Lanre Fajumo from Lanre Fajumo - The Pen Vovage

We all need a creative outlet now and again to let out all those stories, songs and poems that we have cooped up in our heads. To some people writing provides so many positive aspects; it is theraputic, fulfilling and allows them to have a voice. Lanre Fajumo - The Pen Vovage features stories from a personal level such as self esteem and identity, as well as reviews of music, theatre performances, books as well as the odd rant here and there. Lanre started blogging last September and has come on leaps and bounds. I caught up with her to find out about where she writes her blog. As she says in her blog - everyone has a story.

Describe the concept of Lanre Fajumo - The Perfect Vovage

I started the blog because I needed a creative outlet when I have a mental block from wrting songs or stories (I am a singer songwriter and I am currently working my first novel) so the blog is a variety of everything bouncing around in my brain from album or event reviews to personal experiences.

Where do you scribe?
When it's a blog, I write as I go along my day. So if an idea pops up in my head as it always does and I am on the train or at lunch, I will make a note of it on my regular companion, my BlackBerry and when I get home I will develop it on my laptop. Writing a song or a story is however a different thing. Not sure why that is though.

Why that place?
I guess because if I don't capture those thoughts as they bounce around in my head I am afraid of lossing them. Also, I find that I cannot write a blog unless I am sitting at a desk. So sofa and beds are are a no, no for me. I have to be seated at 90 degrees to write a blog.
What is on your desk at the moment?
My laptop, post it notes, a note pad, pens and my mobile phone oooh and a cup of tea.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall.
I have a blank wall, i do however have a hard drive of pictures and ideas that have caught my attention. I do have a few clippings from magazines or newspapers. I keep them all in a folder.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I hate clutter, My workspace needs to be clutter free from me to write anything. If i don't use it, I bin it.

You can read Lanre's blog

You can follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hot Reads

For those of you who don't know I work in marketing and have done for a few years now. I am sure you all know that I am very passionate about books and I think they get a pretty bad rap from society. They are not seen as cool as music and not as cultural enriching as films and to some people books are seen as downright stuffy and boring. Let's face it reading a book takes a bit more effort that watching a film and listening to an album so I can see why they are not as appealing. One of the ways to deal with this is by promotion and good old PR. The medium of PR may be a pain in the arse to some but when done properly it can be very powerful and not to mention beneficial. Therefore I am always interested when I come across new marketing campaigns to promote books especially collaborations. I love to see collaborations with books whether it is a tie in with a film, or a competition such as the Costa Book Awards and the Galaxy British Book Awards.

So I was quite excited when a press release from Harper Collins hit my in-box yesterday informing me about an exciting project that they are working on with asos. Hot Reads focuses on six new titles that are aimed at sassy young and stylish women. The project is a media partnership between the two companies pushing titles like The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell, I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk, Candypop by Lauren Laverne, I Remember You by Harriet Evams, Scandalous by Tilly Bagshawe and Fortune by Megan Cole. A brand new website for Hot Reads has been created where each book will be highlighted every two weeks. Each book will have a themed page where readers will be able to find out more about the book and author. There are also various competitions and giveaways up for grabs. Hot Reads will be promoted on, the newsletter and the magazine. It is very apt that they are kicking off the campaign with The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell and with the new Sex and City film on the horizon it is only just right. Well I love asos and now I have another reason to visit their website. 

You can check out the Hot Reads website here.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Centric TV

I have not really been a fan of BET but they seem to have raised their game a lot. Centric TV which was formerly known as BET on Jazz, BET Jazz and BET J is a spin off from the parent station, BET. Last year BET J was rebranded as Centric and now contains programmes from an African American perspective aimed at a slightly older audience. The station now has a very sexy portfolio of shows which consist of documentary series and reality shows and they are all really delightful. Well you can't really go wrong with fly on the wall shows about the modelling scene, interiors and the magazine industry. The TV schedule for Centric is enough to make the mouth of any pop culture enthusias water ferociously. I spent most of today checking out the shows and I have compiled a summary of all of them for you below.

Keeping Up with the Jones
This is about the comings and goings of a glossy magazine. Tracy Ferguson is the founder and editor of Jones Magazine which is an IT guide to the high and mighty of the African American community in Houston. It covers fashion, hair, make up and parties. Keeping Up with the Jones shows the non stop drama that goes into putting the magazine together and getting it out on the streets. We see Tracy try to balance running the publication with being a single mum.

Model City
I never had much time for modelling shows but this one certainly caught my eye and held it. Firstly when do you ever see so many hot guys on the screen at the same time? Yes that's right, never! Model City follows four Black and Latino male models as they naviagte the insane modelling world trying to get their big break. Wendell, Ibrahim, Nelson and Zeric of RED Model Management NY are on a mission to make it big in the industry. However in a world that is not only dominated by women but also where Black models are a minority, these guys have their cut out for them. This show is like the film Biker Boyz and has the drool factor.

Leading Women 
This is a documentary which profiles leading African American women who have made a huge splash on American culture on many levels. Movers and shakers such as Gina Prince Blythewood, Mara Brock Ali and Shawn Robinson share with us how they got their first break, their goals and aspiirations and the strong bond they have with their female friends. Leading Men is the male counterpaart which fearures stars such as Tyson Beckford, Boris Kodjoe and Neyo where they talk about their careers and personal lives.

Other shows in the staple are Urban Livin which is an interiors show with a difference. Unlike other shows which concentrate on decor this one looks at the foundation of the home, traditional family values, individual living style as well as event planning and personal style. American Gangster is hosted by Ving Rhames where he looks at harrowing tales about criminal behaviour. This shows takes into account the personal stories from inmates, community leaders, law enforcement officials, social historians and crime victims. Lyric Cafe celebrates the beauty of the spoken word with performances from the best wordsmiths. Lens on Talent is a series which showcases the talents of  up and coming African American film makers. The show is hostes by Sanaa Lathan with the aim of awarding the best candidate the opportuntiy to make a short film.

If you live in the US you can catch all of these programmes on Centric TV. 

For those in the UK you can catch Model City on BET on Wednesdays at 9pm.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

My Space -Sondra Lewis from Chic Chocolate

Not all blogs live up to their name but Chic Chocolate certainly does. Covering fashion and beauty, Chic Chocolate has a certain joie de vivre about it. In fact the blog contains a parisian feel when you look at the images and illustrations. Chic Chocolate was founded by Sondra Lewis who is based in Washington DC. She founded the blog in 2008 as an outlet to celebrate all things pretty and she certainly does a fabulous job. I caught up with her to find out more about where she blogs. 

Describe the concept of Chic Chocolate.
Chic Chocolate started off as a lifestyle blog that quickly morphed into a fashion blog.  It's a place for fashion-minded individuals to get quick updates on trendy fashion and beauty items. Chic Chocolate focuses on a lot of "high/low" fashion meaning there is something for those who follow runway trends to those who love "budget couture." It's really my personal reflection of how I like to dress.  I love the idea of mixing pieces from stores like Intermix and Club Monaco. 

Where do you scribe?
I blog from my bed and my desk, but mostly from bed.  Being in bed is where I let my imagination run wild and most of my creative ideas come to me when I'm there. 

Why that place?
I can relax and let my mind roam free and if I fall asleep while blogging, I don't have to worry about waking up to go to bed. 
What is on your bed at the moment?
Of course, my Dell Inspirion laptop where the "magic" happens and my mags. I have a habit of keeping my purse in bed with me in case I have to make a run for something.  My jewelry is an extension of my personality.  I usually slip off my jewelry and leave on my bed after a long day at work.  I do my nails in bed sometimes.  That's why there are bottles of my favorites pictured.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
I really don't put magazine clippings on my walls.  What I like to do is create "inspiration" books.  When I see something that inspires me in a magazine, I'll rip it out and place it in a plastic sheet and store it in a three-ring binder.  I keep the book beside my bed and flip through it before I fall asleep or look at it when I wake up in the morning to get my creative juices flowing. 

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I'm kind of in the middle.  I can go for weeks when my work area is very tidy and neat and organized and then there are weeks when everything gets messy and out of order, but I usually know where everything is.  I'm "organizationally messy. LOL!

You can read Sondra's blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Not Easily Broken

After Barack Obama won his historic victory I wrote a post about Black Love and how it has been portrayed in films and TV. Films are particulalry interesting to me, you see a lot of them focus on the romance and ups and downs of the relationships ending with a lovely wedding. So when I came across Not Easily Broken which is the story about a married couple who struggle to keep their marriage on track through rugged waters I had to see it. Part of the reason is that Morris Chestnut, Taraji P Henson and Eddie Cibrian were in it. Morris and Taraji play Dave and Clarice Johnson who have been married for a few years. Haven given up his dream to be a pro baseball player, Dave now works as a salesman and teaches a group of young boys baseball. Clarice meanwhile is a hot shot real estate agent who is the biggest assest to her company. However, the Johnson's marriage is not without a few issues; Dave is keen to start a family but Clarice is nowhere near ready to jack in her career to start making babies. Also Clarice is hell bent on keeping up with the Jones by having the perfect house, car, friends and eating in fancy restaurants. The couple find themselves drifting apart and during a furious row while driving, David crashes the car and Clarice is seriously injured. She temporarily loses the use of her legs but also her sense of self and belief. Her mother moves into the home to look after her and with this as well as intensive therapy, David finds himself shut out of Clarice's life. Clarice's interferring mother does not help matters either and David finds himself seeking solace elsewhere.

I absolutely loved this film because it really showed an ordinary couple (who just hjappened to be Black) working their way through their problems. There was no domestic violence, no infidelity and no emotional abuse. Clarice is a strong and feisty lady who set high standards for herself and her hubby and David was equally strong but also a fantastic nurtuer and leader. The film covers a wide range of issues such as death, friendship, broken dreams and how holding on baggage from the past can have a detrimental effect on your future. It was also great to see Morris Chesnut back in a great role and Taraji P Henson was her usual amazing self. The film is directed by the great Bill Duke who is making quite a mark for himself with movies such as A Rage in Harlem, Deep Cover and Hoodlum. Duke makes good work of turning T.D. Jakes book into a fantastic film.

Not Easily Broken is available to buy from amazon.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Say My Name

I stood up and took notice of hip hop in the late 80s after I made my first trip to New York. LL Cool J, Public Enemy, KRS One were all the rage but aside from Salt 'n' Pepa, MC Lyte and Monie Love there weren't very few women around. Last Friday I attended the screening of Say My Name which is a documentary film about female MCs based in America and London. The documentary was directed by Nirit Peled and took us through the journey of women in hip hop; from the Bronx where hip hop was born we saw pioneers such as Roxanne Shante, to Brooklyn's finest, MC Lyte and Erykah Badu and onto ex-patriot Londoner, Monie Love. The film also journeyed to West London where we saw Estelle and also to East London where up and coming sides of the grime scene in East London were featured. Say My Name looked at the struggles that female MCs faced in the world of hip hop. Not only did they have to fight to be taken seriously and to get a break, they also have to deal with violence from men as well as gang related warfare. I found the film to be very gripping and it really made me reminisce back to my teenage years, however there were a few bits that shocked me but I guess that just ties in with the nature of the genre. Say My Name is a gritty and thought provoking film that is not afraid to show the true nature of women in hip hop. The film was part of the Images of Black Women 2010 Film Festival programme which took place at The Tricycle Cinema in North West London.
After the film there was a Q&A with Ninit Peled and a couple of artists from the documentary where they discussed the ideology of the project. Nirit talked about her inspirations behind the film which was born from her love of music. She was empowered by hip hop but felt like she was not being represented in the genre so she started working on the film.  Initially it started off on small scale but it grew and grew until it was a full blown documentary with a wide range of stories. Nirit Peled was born in Israel but now lives and works in Amsterdam. She is a community based, cultural artist and film director, as well as co-founder of Mamamess, a production company she runs with her partner Dave Hemmingway
Next up for her is Say My Name in Africa which will look at lyricists in Angola, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. The documentary is currently being film so there is no release date as yet but I cannot wait to see it.

Check out the blog for Say My Name.

You can follow Mamamess on Twitter. 

Images taken by Mamamess

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

My Space - Michelle Harris from Michelle Waffle

In blogsphere you have to fight your way through all the wonderful fashion, beauty, interiors and pop culture blogs but there are not that many techy blogs written by women. Michelle Harris covers everything in her blog Michelle Waffle from simple things such as how to back up your blog, the lowdown of Google Buzz and funny things such as drunk tweeting and various twitter platforms. She has been blogging since last year as an outlet to share her experiences with her readers but decided to focus on more techy subjects after getting many requests for IT help. I caught up with her to find out more about her blogging space.

Describe the concept of Michelle Waffle.
Michelle Waffle (I don't get it) was originally just to write (waffle) about some of the funny things that happen to me, on my travels and to log them. Its changed quite dramatically now however.  People started to ask me how to use or my thoughts on various pieces of software or hardware so I decided to blog about it - I am a bit of a geek so my passion for that took over the blog.   I was then asked to beta-test some items which I blogged about. Now you will find me blogging about anything that I am feeling passionate about or that I think my readers would find interesting -  I was also asked to join a collaborative technical blog Tecforce who have requested that I investigate certain topics, which first go onto Michelle Waffle.

Where do you scribe?
I scribe anywhere really - if I get an idea, it goes immediately into my iPhone, and then I research from there until I have enough information for a post, which is usually then finalised and uploaded on my desktop PC. But I have written whole blogs on my iPhone; there are some fantastic apps for Wordpress, which I am moving over to.

Why that place?
I always have my iPhone with me, so it is always accessible - I have to write down ideas as soon as I get them, or they will be gone forever as another idea inhabits my mind.

What is on your desk and at the moment?
Two phones, a torch, some disks, some paper work and an iTunes voucher card.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
I have nothing on my walls, is that strange? I get inspiration from other people, from being able to help or show them what I have learned or know.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I'm pretty messy - I like to have everything close to hand so it all ends up on or around my small desk. :)

You can read Michelle's blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sketchbook Pop-Up Shop

The introduction of the iPad has had all the techie enthusiasts jumping up and down and the pending UK launch will see the biggest buzz since the magnificent iPod dropped a few years back. But why is the iPad so important? Well for instance it means that it will change the future of publishing as we see it. The medium of the iPad makes it easier to absorb digital magazines and flick from page to page seamlessly. So this is great news for aspiring publishers and editors who will be able to create wonderful magazines without worrying about printing and production costs as well as storage. If it wasn’t for this platform, publications such as Style Sample, Glossy and Ghubar would not exist. Also print magazines would lose an arm in which to promote their current issue such as Stylist magazine who put their latest issue online for all to read. Which leads me to Sketchbook Magazine which is a publication which celebrates creativity all over the world. The first issue launched last October and paid homage to fashion blogging by featuring Susie Bubble on the cover. Unlike most traditional print publications, Sketchbook is available on print on demand in the UK, USA and Canada and has 7,000 readers. Not to rest on their laurels, the Sketchbook posse decided to launch a pop-up shop off Carnaby Street to celebrate 50 years in fashion and music in the Newburgh Quarter of Carnaby Street. 
The shop launched on 2nd April in conjunction with the release of the second issue of Sketchbook Magazine – the idea was the brain wave of Rachel Menashy who is responsible for the marketing/events and PR aspect of Sketchbook. She is also a final year student at UCA Epsom where she is studying Fashion Promotions and Imaging and the pop-up store is part of her final year project. The team worked together day and night to assemble everything together, painting, plastering, banging and basically doing everything to get the Sketchbook shop up and running. The results were worth it because the space looks amazing. It covers two floors; upstairs is where the exhibition takes place and downstairs is where the screening rooms are and where the events take place. 
There is even a little area where you can buy stuff like Sketchbook t-shirts, prints, illustrations, postcards and magazines. The d├ęcor is all tranquil white with lots of artwork and photos and it really is a peaceful haven that you can just step into to escape the hustle and bustle of Carnaby Street. As well as looking pretty the pop-up shop also has a functioning purpose with workshops, lectures and discussions relating to blogging, fashion and journalism. My favourite aspect of the shop is the wall (check out the pic above) which holds illustrations of the Sketchbook family. I went down to check out the pop up store last Friday and had a brief chat with the lovely Wafa (who I featured in In the Editor's Chair in February) and Rachel who gave me a lowdown on the shop and we took some pictures. Lovely lasses they are too. The pop up store is open till 19th April so go down and check it out and have a chat with the team. 

Sketchbook Pop-Up Shop, 10 Newburgh Street, Carnaby Street, London W1F 7TN.

You can check out the Sketchbook Blog here where the team are covering the events at the shop.  

NB: Just heard that the Pop-Up Shop will be open until 13th May! 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Got To Be Real

Oh my, oh my have Marks and Spencer ramped up their game over the years. No longer are they seen as that place where you stock up on undies and nightwear. Since the company rebranded themselves in 2005 they have been hitting our screens with some delicious adverts. With Twiggy as the head ambassador of the brand, the M&S adverts have become known as a form of theatre. Over the years they have enlisted the help of celebs such as Myleene Klass, Erin O’Conner, Lizzie Jagger, Noemie Lenoir and Lisa Snowden to sell their wares and the recent addition to the team is hippy chick, VV Brown. I must admit I was surprised when I heard the news as VV is kind of edgy but I guess that is the market that M&S want to appeal to. Check out the advert and tell me whether you agree that VV can most certainly strut in those heels. She makes me drool just looking at her. As for the song, it is called Got to Be Real by Cheryl Lynn and everytime I hear this tune I used to think of the moment when Carrie Bradshaw fell over in that fashion show in the fourth series of Sex and the City. This song was my theme tune for that but I guess now it will be for the M&S advert. Check out the Carrie Bradshaw moment below. 

My Space - Karl Nova from The amazing musings of Karla Nova

Some clever bird told me that I never seem to cover many men on the My Space feature so I decided to make a special effort and this week cover a very talented male blogger. Enter Karl Nova who writes The amazing musings of Karl Nova which is about his deep thoughts and observations on life, love and all other stuff. Karl has been blogging since last August and since then has built up a steady following as well as an impressive Twitter posse. I caught up with him to find out about where he blogs.

Describe the concept of The amazing musings of Karl Nova.
The concept of The amusing musings of Karl Nova is simply looking at things going on in the world and commenting on them through the lens of my point of view as a young British Nigerian who is a Christian and is trying to make sense of what that means in modern day London.

Where do you scribe?
I do most of my writing at home although due to have a Blackberry sometimes I write on the go.

Why that place?

I write at home because its where I can relax and "let go" and just write without being interrupted. I write on the go sometimes because sometimes I get inspired by what I see as I move around.
What is on your desk at the moment?
On my desk is my laptop, iPod Touch, a green cap and the remote control of my TV.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
I haven't got anything on my wall :)

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I do confess I can be a bit messy because I'm so focused on what I'm writing and can ignore the fact things could be a bit more tidy.

You can read Karl's blog here.

You can follow him on Twitter here.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad

This is the sequel to LA Candy which is Lauren Conrad's voyage into novel writing. Ok let's do a little recap The Hills style; Jane Roberts moves to LA with her bestie, Scarlett Harp and the two end up landing their own reality show. Pretty soon the girls are plastered all over the media as LA Candy becomes one of the hottest shows on TV. Sweet Little Lies takes up where LA Candy left off with Jane fleeing LA to seek refuge in Mexico after her mini scandal. She is hiding out in Cabo with her friend Madison Parker, only except Madison is not her friend. Unknown to Jane it was Madison who leaked photos of Jane getting down and dirty with Braden who happens to be the best friend of her boyfriend, Jesse. All these misdeamenors really made a dent into Jane's wholesome girl next door look. Meanwhile Jane's best mate, Scarlett has cottoned onto Madison's devious game and is frantically trying to reach Jane to tell her. In between worrying about Jane, Scarlett embarks on a little action of her own by getting involved with one of the cute camera guys who works on the show. The only problem is that romantic relations on the set of LA Candy are not looked on favorably so the couple need to keep their relationship a secret.

I was really looking forward to the follow up to LA Candy and let me tell you it did not let me down. This book is just as engaging as the last one and really draws you in. Also the fact that you know the characters already makes it a lot easier for you to dip into the book. You don't have that dodgy three chapter period where you are uncertain as to whether you will like it or not. The first book was all about Jane and her launch into stardom but Sweet Little Lies focuses on the other characters such as Scarlett and Madison and we really see them being fleshed out and we really get to grips with their inner psychology and find out exactly what makes them the way they are. This might sound strange but I actually began to find the manipulative and conniving Madison more intriguing this time round and I cannot wait to read the next exciting installment to find out how the story pans out.

Sweet Little Lies is available to buy from amazon.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

She Bangs, She Bangs

Muireann Carey-Campbell never fails to make me laugh with her satorial and snarky wit on her blog, Bangs amd a Bun. She covers nearly everything from relationships, fashion, music, travel and life itself - all with amazing aplomb. In February she reintroduced vlogs on her blogs where she muses about the perils of mother nature and she also has a fantastic section called 'Please Bitch' where she doles out some tough advice to those who really need it. Muireann started her blog in 2007 when she was living in Canada as an outlet for her creativity and since then she has made a mark as a very popular blogger as well as a colourful character on Twitter. She took ten minutes out to talk to me about life in the blogging lane.

What made you start blogging? 
I left England in 2004, not long after graduating and having worked for a couple of music magazines. I lived in a few countries and by 2007, found myself living in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada. I'd wanted to get back into writing after experimenting in other career fields. I really wanted to write more lifestyle/fashion type stuff, but my portfolio was full of music journalism and it was limiting me when I applied for jobs. I was managing a small accessories store at the time and spent most of my days surfing the net. That's when I came across blogs and just immersed myself in them. I'd never really heard of them prior to that. The more I read, the more I thought 'I could do that!' and I started jotting down some ideas of the types of things I could put on a blog of my own. 

Describe the concept behind Bangs and a Bun. 
Well, if I do say so myself, I'm a good story teller. In a group of people, I love to hold court with a funny anecdote and make people laugh. My mother said to me years ago 'you should write the way you talk', and I've always tried to follow that. So I try to write like I'm just having a conversation with a friend. The early posts on Bangs and a Bun are just funny anecdotes from my travels. A lot of them are based on emails I used to send my friends and family. They'd always write back to me saying 'you're so funny, you should write a book!' Once I used up all my good anecdotes, I had to evolve the blog somehow, so just focused it in on topical issues, but I always keep it funny. Bangs and a Bun is essentially a humour blog about fashion, relationships, music and the quirky things in life. 

Over the last year bloggers have really made their mark at fashion shows and in the media, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
I think newspapers and magazines took a hell of a long time to understand how much of a force we bloggers are. The great thing about blogging is that we build up such a connection with our audience. They know us and can communicate with us. We're not huge companies with hundreds of staff. We abide by our own rules and aren't restricted by having to cover one thing or the other. I think in that sense, especially when it comes to fashion, there's more honesty in blogging. Blog readers trust their host to give them the real lowdown. Our coverage doesn't have to wait to be in the paper tomorrow morning. Since we're in the age when everyone is online and wants their information not now, but right now, bloggers definitely have the edge. I think in the future, this is just going to grow. We'll see more and more bloggers on the front rows and if the magazine and newspaper journalists feel like we're taking their spot, they're just gonna have to up their game! 
You come up with a lot of topical issues on your blog, how do you get your inspiration?
Could be something I see, a conversation with a friend, something I say on Twitter that gets a crazy amount of response - really just all over the place. As corny as it sounds, one of my favourite things in life is to make people laugh. Nothing makes me happier than giving someone that big guttural, eye watering chortle. So if I say something and it gets that kind of response, my first reaction is: 'I've gotta blog it!' 

Describe a typical day in the life of Muireann Carey-Campbell.
I work in my family business. We publish nine community magazines in Leeds. I'm the features editor for those, so that keeps me busy from 9-5. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I tweet my way through the day like a mad woman! My evenings are usually spent blogging or researching. I'm re-learning to play piano at the moment, so I'll get a little practice in for that. I also just got into boxing training recently, so I'll go work out once a week with a bunch of sweaty dudes with broken noses. I'm also very into film, theatre and dance, so if there are any events going on around the city involving those, I can usually be found there. 

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
I'm not nearly as much of a magazine junkie now as I used to be, as I spend so much time online. My favourite mag is New York Magazine which is actually a weekly and it's not even available in England, so I'm at a bit of a loss without it! They always have really great articles and an awesome style section (they also have a crossword at the back, which is the only one I can ever seem to come close to completing). I don't read any of the women's glossies anymore - I can't stand how one dimensional they all make us seem, like all we give a crap about is our clothes, boyfriends and diets. I like to think I'm a little more evolved than that. If I buy any magazine these days, it's usually The Fader or Complex (which is a men's mag, but is probably one of the coolest mags around).

Name five blogs that you read religiously
Self Absorbed

How do you see Bangs and a Bun evolving over the next two years?
I've been getting more into video blogging recently and have been getting some great feedback, so I'd like to continue with that and hopefully keep improving - it's still a little cringeworthy to watch myself on video! I've been approached recently about getting involved in several different interesting projects, so I hope there'll more collaborations in the future. I'd like Bangs and a Bun to keep building a name on the interweb and eventually be the go-to girl when people need a funny commentary on bad fashion or bitch slaps.
You can read Muireann's blog here.

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