Charlene McElhinney is my pen pal; for a little while now, we’ve been planning a blog collaboration, following on from our Christmas guest post exchange. Over the course of her letters, I gradually came to know more about her; she’s a Blogger, Poet, Student, and Lifestyle Editor for Strathclyde Telegraph. How does she do it? So, I emailed her questions to find out.

Hello Charlene, thank you for agreeing to this interview. First of all, how did you come to be involved with blogging?
I was blogging for about 6 months before I discovered that there was a whole community out there; I actually started blogging as a way of taking my journal online. I’d always kept a diary, and after suffering with mental health issues for some time and seeing a counsellor, we decided I should start a blog. I put the feelers out there and I fell in love. I found my safe haven.

Growing up, where you interested in writing?
Always. At primary school, I had 3 of my poems published. I would go on to win Star Writer more than the average kid. I’d write songs, plays, stories. I spent a lot of my time at home writing stories. And of course there was my journal, where I shared my life in writing. I was always passionate about writing.

It’s been just over a year since you published your first book; congratulations! What made you decide to publish it?
I was working on a poetry anthology for my graded unit at college (I was studying professional writing skills in the creative industries). My lecturer and I had aimed for a total of 5 poems – I ended up writing 80+. I decided I was going to share these with the world. I wanted to share my story about my mental health journey and reach out to others. I’d always been curious about the self-publishing process and so I just went for it. I bit the bullet. I put my words out there in to the world in the form of a book.

Why did you go for poetry?
The reason I went for poetry was because it was what I had chosen to do for my graded unit at college; it was something I was always passionate about at primary school and fell away from in my teenage years. I wanted to try it. Nobody else in my class was really doing it and I thought I’d go for it. I’m so glad I did.

Who influences you as a poet?
Sylvia Plath. But also Rupi Kaur, who I feel is a very modernized poet, who is having a hugely positive influence on poetry in this day and age.

You’re also a lifestyle editor for your University newspaper; how did you get started on this?
I was ‘head-hunted’ by the editor-in-chief who had discovered my blog via twitter (using the hashtags that my university encourage us to use) and she was really eager to have me on board. I took a day or two think about it and then I accepted the offer and went for a brief ‘interview’ with her. It’s very seldom a first year student becomes an editor so I’m extremely proud of myself for taking this on.

What does your job entail?
I’m the lifestyle editor, my main role is to come up with ideas and pitch these to the contributors of our paper. I also write at least one story myself every month. Once I’ve pitched my ideas people approach me conveying their interest in writing about my ideas and I’ll select who I want to write them. I set them deadlines, they send me their stories, I proof read and edit. I also help out with the social media aspect of the paper. I attend socials. I go to meetings with The Strathclyde Telegraph team and we discuss going forward with the paper and future editors. It’s very time consuming but I love it. It’s great experience.

What are you currently working on for the paper?
We have a meeting coming up this week, actually, discussing the upcoming edition. One of the editors suggested having a ‘theme’ every month which has been working well thus far. Last month it was about exams and ‘crunch time’. This month we are thinking ‘summer’. I’ve got a few ideas but I haven’t pitched them yet!

For aspiring poets and journalists, what would be your advice?
Poets – write from the heart. Don’t think in to it too much. Let it come naturally. Share your work. Read, read, read. And have fun with your writing.

Random: if you had to dye your hair, would you go for bright read or glitter pink?
I’d love glitter pink hair actually!

Thank you to Charlene for answering my questions. To read more of her writing, be sure to visit her blog. And Melancholy Mind is available to buy now. 

I get asked a lot about the course I’m currently taking, which is training me to be a journalist. Therefore, I thought I would expand my posts about it-which you can read here-by bringing another Blogger on board.
Kate is a Blogger and journalist, who will soon be beginning to broadcast with a new radio station; she is also a brilliant writer. For today, we decided to do an interview swap-where I interview her, post it, vice versa-to find out more about journalism. She may also be guest posting in future.

What was it that made you want to be a journalist?

I spent my early childhood reading and writing – so much so, I completed a (rather poor and factually inaccurate) novel before I left primary school! During my later years at primary school and my early years at secondary school, my ambition was to be a successful author, but as I got slightly older, I started to feel that this was a bit unrealistic, and felt that journalism would be a more viable way of being able to write for a career. Positive feedback from some journalistic-style writing assignments at secondary school helped develop this interest. I did my first work experience placement on a local newspaper when I was 15 and I loved it, and that was what helped me decide that I wanted to work in the media when I was older.

C/O: Kate Jones.

How did you get the current job you have today?

Last year, while I was back at my childhood home after finishing my English degree at university (but prior to my graduation ceremony), I started looking online at media opportunities with a view to trying to get a role in this area. I had considered doing a Master’s course in journalism to give myself a better chance of getting my foot in the door for my first media job, but hadn’t applied for one because, what with the high costs of doing this kind of course, I hoped I might be able to get into the industry and train while woking (by doing the NCTJ diploma by distance learning or the like) to keep costs low. One of the opportunities I saw was a part-time job as a magazine editorial assistant near to where I live (which was an incredibly lucky thing, as I live in a pretty rural area). I applied for this role, and was very lucky to make it through both a telephone and then “in-person” interview to be offered the job. I started this role, which primarily involves working as an assistant for a number of business-to-business shipping magazines, in June 2017.
A few months later, my hours were increased, and not long after this, my first publication came out in which I was named as Assistant Editor of the title.My role involves assisting with the production of several titles that fall under a shipping-related remit. The work includes proofreading articles, uploading articles online, writing article synopses and contents pages, choosing pictures for pieces (both online and in print), keeping the company I work for’s social media accounts up-to-date and coming up with themes and ideas for future magazine issues. I also write news articles and features for the different publications I work on.

You’re also soon to start at a radio station; how did you get to doing that?

Having radio shows was something that I started doing while I was at university. In my second year, I applied for training to be a presenter on my university’s student radio station (a voluntary-run station) and I started broadcasting my own show in the third term of that academic year. I presented a number of regular and one-off shows while I was a member of the station.
After leaving university, one of the things I really missed was having a radio show. I had so many great memories from my time on air and I loved being able to play whatever music I wanted and create good content for my broadcasts. I thought about maybe going to the closest hospital radio station and seeing if I could get involved there, though it is a bit far off from where I live. Then, a few months ago, my Mum showed me an email sent to my sister, which was calling for college students to volunteer at the community radio station Corinium Radio in Gloucestershire. The station, which broadcasts online 24/7, offers listeners a variety of shows including music programmes, lifestyle-related programmes and drama. Though I am not of my sister’s age group, I knew that the station would probably be happy to accept new volunteers of all ages (given that it is completely volunteer-led), and its website proved me right. I emailed them and the station manager invited me to meet her and subsequently find out more about the station before choosing whether to get involved – and it wasn’t a difficult choice!

What do you think the appeal is of broadcasting, in comparison to print or online journalism?

I would say that it’s both the popularity of broadcast as a media form, particularly in this current climate, and the ease for audiences to receive this kind of content. Now, with YouTube clips, online videos and Snapchat and Instagram Stories – as well as the traditional broadcasting form of television – widely used both to disseminate news and as a form of popular culture, I can see why people might find having to read a detailed article more of a chore when they can switch on the television/turn on the radio/watch a vlog and absorb the content without having to expend much mental effort. Having said that, I still think that there will be a place for written journalism in the future, both in its print and online forms. We’re in a really strange era at the moment whereby methods of receiving media which would have been viewed as obsolete a few years ago are now experiencing a revival. Look at how Urban Outfitters are now selling cassette and record players! Even older-style audio medias are being regenerated – the song claims that “Video killed the radio star”, but just think about how popular podcasts have become in recent times. Thus, I’m sure that a desire to consume written media (newspapers and magazines) will come back around, both in print and online forms.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I’m really not sure, but I know that I will still be working in the media industry in some form – and I would be delighted if I was holding higher-level positions at media companies.

Do you have any tips for fellow journalists?

When writing standard-size news articles, put the quote/quotes you will be using on the page first – it will give you a better sense of direction when it comes to creating the full piece.
Social media is a great place to hunt for stories. Follow accounts connected to the content your publication writes about – certain posts can serve as great stories/bases for stories and you might come across a story you would have missed otherwise. Find a way of making a note of story leads you find on social media so you can refer back to them. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to people for interviews – often, you’re helping them tell a story belonging to them and they’re usually very happy to help.

Over on Twitter, I gave my followers the chance to vote on some Blogmas posts that could be written up. One of them was “Bucket list for 2018”.
Every year, I usually set myself a list of goals to achieve throughout the year. I also set myself one big, ongoing challenge to complete-this year it was to blog daily. (Though some of the posts have since been deleted, to create a better niche, and to improve my DA.) Having challenges and goals keeps me on track-a way of putting order to a world that, from my viewpoint of having Aspergers, can be chaotic. Without further ado..
Challenge: Read 100 books within a year. (They have to be separate, and cannot be re-read to count.) Or try to get as close as possible… This includes Good Times, Bad Times by Harold Evans, my hero.
Get better at Shorthand, and pass my 100 wpm. (There was a wonderful resource I found about this, see it here.) Shorthand is probably the bane of my life.. so, I need to practice.
Visit Peggy Porschen, the cake shop that every Blogger seems to have visited this year. (Their collective Instagram feed always makes me feel really hungry! Have you seen their menu? It looks lovely! See it here.)
Swim in a waterfall, maybe. My pen pal did, and it looks awesome!
Learn to make better flatly photos.
Take great care of myself. As I have written before, I am very clumsy, and I lack awareness of myself to my surroundings. (Want to read more? See my post here.) So, in 2018, I’ll try to take great care of myself-so, making self care more important, slowing down, etc. Jenny from Jenny In Neverland wrote this 10 beneficial things you can do for yourself, which I’ll be taking on board.  Scarlett from Scarlett London also wrote 10 Ways To Improve Body Confidence. 
Read Everything Is Lies by Helen Callaghan; I was lucky enough to interview her earlier this year.
Try Dr PawPaw Shea Butter Balm. Because Dr Paw Paw is one of the only beauty products I use, having discovered and reviewed it earlier this year… Shea butter sounds wonderful! It is also a really versatile product, and can do more than just act as a balm. (See my hacks here.)
Get a Domain Authority of 20 or more. Currently I’m at seventeen.
Try to sleep better. Because when stress takes over, I often end up, awake, to the early hours. It’s not good.
Get organised. Rather than being chaotic about it-my Filofax ended up stuffed by November-I’m looking for a system that is neat, keeps more organised, and what doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. If you would like to see a brilliant Filofax blog post, click here. 

Happy new year!

Lydia XO


Happy Christmas Day everyone!

I do appreciate that not everyone will be online today; so, continuing with the ‘Blogmas’ theme, I thought I would show you my festive box swap!
Envy Fisher is a Blogger at Lost In Translation; she is also my pen pal. At her suggestion, the theme was Stationery-and, as a compulsive writer and notebook fiend, I could not have been happier.
(I also really enjoy reading her travel posts; someone, sign this lady up as a travel writer already!)

What I got:

I got…

  • Four notebooks
  • Two pens
  • A stamp
  • A Christmas card (handmade, I might add!)
  • Cat Stickers
  • A post card
  • Three envelops

The envelopes:

The envelopes are particularly special; Envy runs a small shop, and these are one of the products you can buy. She make them herself-and you can add specifications about what sort of paper, what pattern, etc. Don’t believe me? Read this.

What I plan to do with the stationery:

I am always in need of a new notebook it seems, though I never get to the end of them…. Hmm.. Anyway: The spiral bound brown notebook is now my jotter. (I cart a notebook round with me everywhere I go, to jot on-the-go; I could miss some important idea, people! That cannot happen!)

I also plan on keeping a poetry album throughout 2018.. because I always find scraps of verse that I have been working on, and it could all go into one volume. Besides, it’s a poetry collection in the making!
Envy is also trying her hardest to teach me Dutch via our letters. (I’m a terrible student. Better stick to writing!) I may take up a notebook with my ‘lessons’. Go old school.
I also love the pens; they are quite unlike anything I have seen before! I thought that they were pencils-but you click what you would have thought was the Rubber, in order to get to the biro… My handbag has a collection of pens. In they went!

Happy Christmas everyone!


Hello everyone!

It seems like it has been a while since I’ve written one of these posts, where you get to see the inside of my bag; you can see all similar posts here. Anyway, in keeping with the theme of ‘Blogmas’, I thought I would show you what’s inside:

The bag:

This was a ‘treat me purchase’ from Sainsburys; I got it when Black Friday events seemed to be everywhere! I had seen a handbag in red that caught my eye; however, it was a bit too big for me, so I settled on this. It also seemed like a bit of a smarter option-a bag that can be casual, but can also be used for events. You can buy it here. 
(As an aside: I took off the longer handle, as it kept trailing on the ground.)

The insides:

All in all, there is a lot of stuff that you can fit into this bag! Perfect for someone like me-blogger, student, trainee journalist..

Going from top to bottom:

  1.  Headphones! I posted a while ago about having headphones in wherever I go, due to sensory intrusion; these really help to counteract this.
  2. Filofax. Because have to plan everything. Besides, it keep tracks of my blog information, budgets, appointments, and things like that.
  3. Letters. Concerning a NUJ membership and a railcard!
  4. Clip from Pocket Notebooks.
  5. Purse. Complete with my train tickets, nectar card, debit card, and not much else..
  6. iPhone charger. Since the new update, my battery runs out incredibly fast.
  7. Torch. Because I can’t see in the dark on the way home from a lecture.
  8. Christmas cards for the Christmas cards exchange project, ready to be posted.
  9. Dr Paw Paw lip balm.
  10. Collection of writing implements; the Bic’s are for Shorthand, due to the finer points.
  11. Notebook. My jotter from Pocket notebooks. 

What’s in your bag?

To see inside the bag of a fellow blogger, read this post. To see the bag of a journalist, click here.