Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Blogger Recognition Award.

The totally excellent Jess recently mentioned me in a tag post that I didn't know was a thing! Oh dear, that was terribly worded wasn't it? Apologies. And thank you, Jess! 



So, I hardly ever do tags on here, and that's not a deliberate thing, it's just because more often than not, they totally pass me by! But I'm making it a mid-year resolution to do more, as they can be really fun! 

This is my Blogger Recognition Award post. The rules are:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them & provide the link to the post you created.

How my blog started.

I was 16, and full of feelings. I made up stories in my head, I had awkward crushes, and I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere. I needed a safe place that was just mine to get these things out; I didn't necessarily want to share my thoughts with the world, I just wanted to write them down and set them free. It wasn't until I got to uni that I realised other people could find my blog and read it. So I stopped just writing about my ridiculous feelings (I still do that a fair bit today, though) and started including my Creative Writing assignment pieces, thoughts I had on films and memes and......books. I also voiced my opinions and addressed some taboos, which was hard at times but it always felt good when clicking publish. And now, 7 years on from the very first post, here I am. A freelance writer with mad stats, a decent reputation and a shit ton of friends that I wouldn't have were it not for my blog.

Advice for new bloggers.

Be different. Set yourself apart from others – let them inspire you, but bang your own drum. Have your own voice, and make sure it's yours. Y'know? Create your own regular features, settle on a name/URL and stick to it, take time perfecting your layout and picking font sizes, make it all yours...and don't copy anyone. 




You don't ask, you don't get. That's like an ancient proverb in blogging, I swear. If you're an aspiring book blogger and you are desperate for your fave author's next novel – find out who the publisher is, and email the publicist when proofs are being sent out. If you want to share your gift for make up application and flawless selfies, get in touch with brands and strike some friendly deals – freebies for promo posts. Are you reviewing films like a boss but want to get a little further from your DVD collection? Look into getting tickets for early screenings and even premieres – best ask some YouTubers how to do that, they're always off to Leicester Square...

These are just the more common blog themes. There are many more! And some that haven't been tried yet, probably.
I recently lectured some third years (casual brag dropped in right there, soz) and asked them to come up with ideas for a niche blog, and my favourite was the two young women who wanted to review sweet treats and compare brands of chocolate – now there's definitely a gap in the market there...

Then I wrote reviews for The Royal Shakespeare Company in their winter season 2016, and yes I went to every show they offered me, but then when another came into town before Christmas that I hadn't been invited to – that just so happened to be my favourite Shakespeare EVER – I emailed shamelessly and requested tickets to press night. And because the RSC are babes, they gave them to me.

This old expression even works in terms of asking fellow bloggers for help, tips and inspo. Making friends in the blogging world is shockingly easy, and what's bloody lovely is we're all always willing to help each other out. Whether that's sending links to the best web layout stores, arranging IRL meet-ups, proof-reading posts for one another, or even creating tags and lists of ideas for posts that others can use! 

Now, time to nominate fellow bloggers to do this little tag - if they wish to, that is...


Creators of The Olive Fox, Beth & Suzy
(Wow, I know a few Laurens/Lauras...and you're all awesome)
And of course the aforementioned Whatsapp babes: 

But of course, don't let my few nominations stop you joining in if you wanna! Spread the blogging love, guys. I am thrilled to be part of such a fab community - sure, it's not without its turbulence at times, but hey, all families are a little dysfunctional aren't they? Yes, yes they are. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Weekly warm 'n' fuzzies #1.

I'm continuing the recent lovely trend among some of my favourite bloggers – and listing the things that have made me happy this week.

Some especially tasty coffees in the old town. Walking along the seafront, inhaling the sea, smelling chips and suncream. Reading poetry before bed. That episode of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air' with a baby Raven Symone in, sassing Will. The sound of thunder and pouring rain breaking the tension in the sky after a stifling week of sun. The expression 'six of one, half a dozen of the other'. Getting my wound dressing removed, and feeling my shirt brush my tummy. Buying presents, and giving them. Whisky on the bartender's tab. Vegan chocolate and raspberry cake. Drinking full cups again. Going back to London, stepping off the train and genuinely thinking 'I missed you'. Then having some of my favourite people cuddle me that night, marvel at how long we'd been apart and say they'd missed me.


This was fun to write - I couldn't stop adding more things to it before posting. I may not make it a regular thing, in case it isn't as special and fun having to list things every week. It's hard enough sometimes doing monthly personal wrap ups! 
But I want to encourage every blogger I know to try this, at least once. What's made you happy this week? Find the bright spots, and share them with others. Maybe it'll help them see theirs. 

(Thank you to Beth, Suzy, Naomi and many more of my fellow bloggers for already doing this and inspiring me!)

Friday, 16 June 2017

Losing weight...in a bad way!?

'Well hello again, missy,' the nurse says, escorting me to my bed for this particular night. (Ooh, I get the window again, result!) 'You've lost some weight, haven't you?!'
'Oh, yeah,' I say, hobbling down the ward alongside her. 'A bit.'
'Jealous. I could do with losing some!' The nurse giggles and shakes her head.
'Y'know my hot diet secret? A hemicolectomy, with some added laparotomy!' I deadpan.

*

'You're looking very well, despite everything! Very skinny!' My friend grins at me, looking up and down my somewhat skeletal frame.
'Yeah, I guess so. It's not that healthy, though.' I shrug and feel my shoulder blades grind.
'Well, it's a definite silver lining to all this, isn't it?'

*

'Have you lost weight since these ops?' Our GP nurse asks, an afterthought, as we leave.
'Over a stone and a half,' I reply, pulling down my shirt. 
'Ah, well that'll be nice to put back on, won't it?' She giggles – and I join her. Because she has a good point; I could have a few lazy and indulgent weeks ahead of me, should I wish...endless 'cheat days'...

*

I have a turbulent relationship with my weight. Have done since I was about 10 years old, and one day I came home from school panicking because my legs and bum suddenly felt 'wobbly'. That was when I became aware. Looking back now, I know I wasn't a chubby child or teen. My goodness, I think I was a size 8/10 until I turned 17 and got some extra boob and hip dolloped on my awkward outline. 
Yet, I was insecure from a young age. Because I never looked quite 'perfect'. Or rather, I never knew that there was no such thing.

It got harder at secondary school – as everything does – because every other girl had a flat (and pierced) tummy, habitually rolled up their skirt to show off seriously skinny pins, could do a choreographed gymnastics display at the drop of a hat, and was wanted by all the popular jocky boys with the deepest voices. That's how it seemed to me, anyway. I had blinders on, to a degree. Looking back now, as an adult who is that much more confident and comfortable in their own body – I can see it wasn't just me who felt that way. Of course it wasn't. Everyone had hang-ups about their appearance. The curly-haired girls desperately wanted chemical straightening; the strong rugby team ladies occasionally fancied being petite and dainty; the bustiest chicks dreaded going bra shopping; and some of the slimmest worked hard to keep weight on. I should have appreciated what I did have, back then, and what I had that others may have wanted as much as I wanted a flat tummy. 


(Prom night 2009, I was nearly 16 and genuinely thought I was dumpy af)

Right, so. Yes, I have lost weight recently. Almost 2 stone, in fact. I try not to get the scales out too much, but every time I do, I'm surprised. I blink at the numbers, do the conversions, step off and on again to see if it changes, if the calculator is messing with me – nope, that's me, currently 20lbs lighter than I've been since I was a teen. Great, right?
Wrong. Because, well, it's not a good kind of weight loss. It's not healthy, it's not been something I've consciously worked for, and I would never recommend it to friends. It's a sick kind of weight loss. I look sick. I've lost chub in the areas where, to be honest, I really didn't need to. My collar bones are even more prominent than they already were, my mermaid thighs don't quite touch any more, plus my arms are somehow skinnier and look even sillier attached to my rather large, bejwelled hands. Oh, that too – some my rings no longer fit! They swivel around and roll off my fingers, because even they've got skinnier now and there's nothing the silver can hold onto. Yeah, I've got some skinny bits now. They're not toned or buffed. They're not carefully cultivated; the merits of a fitness regime and healthy eating. A lot of the time, if I don't dress them right, they look...tired. 


(2012, a silly Fresher who drank litres of cider and kept packets of biscuits in her bedside drawer. Was slightly chubbier, but was also having lots of sex so felt good about my bod, lol)


I feel like I've cheated. Even though I obviously didn't do it consciously. I couldn't help having the surgeries, now could I? Nor could I anticipate the endless violent vomiting, and eventual aspirating of my stomach contents. I definitely couldn't fight with the medical team when they held off feeding me (save the crucial IV fluids) for days and days. None of it was my doing, or my fault. It was a side effect of the horrors I've gone through recently. 


(Berlin, 2015. I'd been on a shit ton of steroids, and comfort eating. Maybe the biggest I've been)


At first, I won't lie, I thought 'ooh, a stone off isn't bad, I guess' – but now I'm a little panicked that I'll soon start to obsess and control myself more in order to maintain this shape and lightness. I think as long as I'm aware of it though, as long as I know that is what could happen if I'm not careful and let my body love turn, grow cold...I'll be okay. 


(Right before my first op on the guts - I took this pic to celebrate my hefty love handles.)


I wrote a tough blog post in 2015 about being in mourning for my thinner figure the year before, having been in and out of hospital then for The Thing and putting on weight due to a mix of steroids, comfort eating and fatigue. I said 'I'd rather be chubby and happy', that I'd prefer to be in a comfortable situation carrying a few extra pounds, rather than stressed to hell and bunching up my jeans at the waist. That sentiment remains true, of course.
Then more recently I wrote about the importance of listening to and loving your body – how it's all you've got, and it works hard for you (however hard that may be to believe at times). I still believe this, wholeheartedly. I also have realised that sometimes, you have to roll with the punches. And I've had a few. 

A post shared by Grace Latter (@_gracelatter) on
(Me the other day, the lightest I've been since I was 17.)


Not that this is the sure fire solution, or the happy ending, but I plan on starting back at the gym when I'm 100% healed and feeling stronger. My pay as you go gym just up the road has been great for me the few times I've managed to go semi-regularly this year, and what's especially nice is the feeling of immense freedom and pride it brings me. I can't wait to get that back. Hopefully by going regularly again I can keep the little unwanted weight off, and tone up the skinny bits. Wish me luck! 

Of course, I'm now going to connect these thoughts and issues to books. Here are some helpful novels and non-fics for info on eating disorders and body positivity and/or concerns... 


I recently read Bryony Gordon's absolute corker of a memoir, 'Mad Girl', and after several chapters of her telling me all about her time as a bulimic, I was relieved and yes, actually proud when she wrote about how she found happiness in a relationship and within herself, which then led to her putting on weight and not caring at all.

Claire Hennessy's YA novel 'Nothing Tastes As Good' is a story of Julia, a fat girl being haunted and controlled by the ghost of anorexic Annabel. It really shows the horrors present at both ends of the spectrum.

I'm apprehensive to include 'Holding Up the Universe' by Jennifer Niven here, as personally I did not feel it helped readers with the issue of body image – in fact, I preferred the other MC's psychological problem story – but it may help others where it didn't touch me. 

Another excellent non-fic I came across recently is 'Animal' by the brilliant Sara Pascoe. This book drops endless astonishing bombs on its readers, spilling all the tea on the many quirks and wonders inside a woman's body in particular. Read it and be amazed, immediately. 



I know those are only a few, but I didn't want to overwhelm. If anyone can think of other reads to add to my tiny list, please comment!


Also it may be worth reading some of The Mix's expert advice on healthy eating, how to have a good relationship with food, ways to gain weight in a good way and general important info on eating disorders

I'd say it's worth checking out these topics in Safe Space UK's 'Body Image' articles, and of course my beloved The Olive Fox has a massive Wellbeing section. And the badass Louise Jones happened to post something about her (equally badass) body and how it could soon be saving an actual life. Again, any more for any more, do comment with links. I'll keep an eye out and add some in later, maybe! Because you cannot get enough body positivity in this day and age, guys. 

I'll end this post now with buckets of love and a gentle reminder to be kind to yourself, always. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

'Songs About Us' - a cover reveal AND chapter 1!

I am both gleefully fangirlishly squealingly overjoyed and most sensibly humbly honoured to have been given the chance to unveil not only the cover for the hot new #boybandlit release 'Songs About Us', sequel to Chris Russell's totally gorgeous 2016 novel 'Songs About a Girl', but also to be treating you lucky readers to a snippet of the first chapter! Oh yes, you guys are getting a deluxe VIP backstage pass to the hottest show in town right now... 

Book trailer for 'Songs About a Girl'!


For those of you who don't know, 'Songs About a Girl' came into the world of UKYA last year (under the watchful eye of the total babes at Hachette) and soon we were all hearing the hot goss about quiet teen girl Charlie Bloom, the amateur photographer suddenly called in to shoot the Fire&Lights lads backstage on their tour...and getting more than she bargained for between snaps. 

Also, the book had a soundtrack! If you wanna know all about that, be sure to read this guest post by the fabulous author and get listening to the jams. 

'Songs About Us' is due out on the 13th of July 2017. But surely we cannot be expected to wait until then to see what it'll look like?! Oh, no. 

Enough teasing now, I think. Let's have a look at the cover, shall we...?? 
In 3, 2, 1...



I know. Gorgeous, right? I won't lie guys, I didn't think anything could match up to the first cover...and I've been very happily proven wrong! And yes, I do dream of being 'with the band'. Maybe someday... 

But the juicy reveals aren't over yet! This just in – a Chapter 1 preview! Enjoy, devoted fans...

Friday, 9 June 2017

32.

Hi, my name's Grace. I guess you could call me Gracie, sometimes. 

Free wifi is the way to my heart, I seem to have malfunctioning intestines, I actually enjoy watching the 10pm news these days, my type is Ed Westwick in 'White Gold', some of my favourite foods can be found in Holland & Barrett fridges, my side hustles vary wildly, I would fight any other fangirl to befriend Titus Andromedon, I go through Instagram slumps, I dream of having permanently pastel-coloured hair, I sometimes really miss playing Ultimate Frisbee, I plan on living through middle age in Brighton before retiring in Winchester, my first novel is in progress, it upsets me too much when a TV show goes on for too many seasons. 
For the past 3 years, my life has been on pause. It needs to resume soon. 


These posts are getting harder - I think you readers know me too well now...

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

What I'll be reading in June 2017.

Happy June, my friends! This month, much like the last couple funnily enough, I seem to be utterly spoiled with spare time (aka, a lengthy recovery period, whoop whoop) and so this of course means a lot more reading will be happening than usual. Yes, it will. And possibly writing too...?! Let us hope! 


I have already been in and out of hospital twice this month (?!) and when I haven't been reclining in a sterile bed with nurses wrapping me alternately in velcro and rubber every few hours, I've been curled up on the sofa bingeing on books. (And Ru Paul. Omg.) 

I've given myself a theme for the month already, and now I'm making it official. June 2017 is... 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

31 Days Grace: May 2017.

May happened. And guys...I actually did some things!!!
After April, a month that began with hellish pain and ended in utter debilitation, it's been nice to actually feel a bit more human recently. I'm not quite 100% still, but I'm getting there. This month has been spent healing and...being. Not pressuring myself. 

EDIT: It all went to shit. Read on and find out more...if you dare. 


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