Sarah Billington's Blog

July 1, 2016

Hi all.

I should have written this blog a long time ago, but in all honesty, I was in denial of the situation. But it's gotten a bit ridiculous and people keep asking, so I'm going to finally address it now.

The Kiss Off 3: All Access Pass has been shelved. For the moment. For the foreseeable future. I will write it eventually, but in all honesty, now is not the time I can do that.

I did start writing it. And I didn't enjoy it. I didn't particularly like what I had or where it was going. If I'm going to write it, I want it to be good for you guys. And YOU want it to be good. And at the moment, I'm not feeling it. I've lost the passion I used to have for writing romantic comedies, and writing fiction at all, really. I keep plotting books in my head and on paper and telling myself I'm going to write it, but something keeps stopping me from ACTUALLY writing. I've put a lot of pressure on myself and fiction, so much pressure on ENJOYING WRITING again, that I can't make myself start.

To be perfectly frank, it can be really disheartening, you guys. All that time, effort, heartache and money spent on producing a product that some readers love, but other readers love to tear down. And more readers like to illegally download my books for free than actually purchase them. Way, way more. If I was writing books for the love of it like I used to, then it would be okay. Not good - but okay - I would still have that love of writing books and it wouldn't matter. But I have a casual job to support me that I'm always scared isn't going to. And at the moment writing's not a fun passtime for me and I don't know about you, but I don't like spending the amount of time writing a book takes on an activity I don't enjoy if there's not going to be much in the way of payoff in the end, be it satisfaction or monetary. You know what I'm saying? You know what I'm saying.

​I need to focus on things I do enjoy, and things that are going to pay the rent.

So at the moment I'm not writing fiction. I'm writing a pop culture website called Pop Culture Tragic, which I AM enjoying. You can check that out, or not if it's not your thing.

I'm hoping that this time off from fiction will reinvigorate me, that when I have a dabble in fiction again I'll be able to get that joy back.

In the meantime, I'm trying something new.

Sorry I didn't tell you earlier. I've always considered myself a writer; all I ever wanted to do was be an author of fiction. And to admit it out loud to myself and to you like this makes the fact that right now I'm not an author, and potentially may not be again, too real.

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Published on July 01, 2016 23:11 • 45 views

December 9, 2015

A couple of months ago I wrote a post here about stressing less about your school results if you don't make the grade you need to get into the university or college course you want.

Chill.

That course isn't the only way to achieve your dreams. And if it is, and you need that piece of paper to be eligible for the job? Well there are other ways of getting into it that don't involve going to university straight out of school.

And Girlfriend magazine agreed with me! 

You can pick up your copy of the January edition of Girlfriend mag (with T Swizzle on the front and, as an aside, a yearly calendar that I totally love) NOW and find my feature article with a bit of life advice I feel strongly about.

A photo posted by Girlfriend (@girlfriendmag) on Dec 6, 2015 at 12:38pm PST

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Published on December 09, 2015 02:34 • 33 views

May 4, 2015

Hi you guys.
So it's been a bit quiet around here, huh? Sorry about that. You may think I haven't been blogging, but the truth is, I have. A LOT. Just not here.

You can find my thoughts in written form at:
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And in a couple of months you'll find a feature by me in Australia's #1 mag for teens...
Picture Being published in Girlfriend magazine is legit a teen me dream come true.

Unfortunately I haven't been writing any books. I'm as disappointed as you are, but I'm not enjoying it at the moment, so I'm following some other interests until I get back into it. I'm sure I will. But right now is not the time.

For now, I'm enjoying writing about what's going on in the real world, like personal essays, reality TV drinking games, book to film/TV adaptations I'm excited about, amazing places in the world to visit, looking after your pets and more!

I'm also looking for a new day job so if you know of anything going, let me know, okay? Writing and editing and project management preferable, but I'm not overly choosy.

Later, gators!
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Published on May 04, 2015 00:11 • 37 views

March 12, 2015

Picture Well my cat CC and I went to visit my parents and their dogs for a couple of nights and due to my car deciding to be choosy as to when it will and will not start, the cat and I are somewhat stranded here.

I know. I am trapped at a beach house with free meals and people and animals who love me. Send help.

My mum and I have a habit, when I visit, of lying down on their bed and talking about anything and everything that's going on in our lives before maybe getting a bit sleepy and having a nap (it's a tough life). It's a little ritual that we both love and we're very close because of it.

And we love doggie cuddles more than anything else, so we call the dogs to come and join us, and they come, tails wagging, eyes smiling, affection at the ready.

We are truly the masters. We get affection when we require it (and other times too, but that's not my point).

CC, however, is a different story. As a new cat owner (the last cat I had was our family's cats, when I was a teenager at home) I am a different person with her than I am the dogs.

I am her bitch.

When I want cuddles doesn't matter. She doesn't come when she's called. 
When SHE wants cuddles, however, I stop everything because I take it when I can get it. I have in fact pushed my laptop away three times since beginning writing this because she wanted head scratches and tummy rubs and who was I to argue? Whereas I am the leader of the dog pack, and they are eternally grateful for all the love and tummy rubs I give them, I am the cat's slave, I take her affection when she deigns to bestow it on me and I'm happy about it.  

Cat owners, that sounds about right, doesn't it. Picture
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Published on March 12, 2015 16:44 • 38 views

March 8, 2015

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It's around this time of year that northern hemisphere students are soon to be having a freak out about college acceptance or lack-of, isn't it. 

Well this is a topic I'm pretty passionate about, and I knew so when a couple of years ago I was a Student Ambassador for my university at education expos. I'd tell students that there were multiple ways to get where they wanted to go in the future. If they didn't get the score they needed to get into the course they wanted immediately, it was going to be okay. There are other ways.

In Australia, there is SO much emphasis put on getting the right ATAR score (is that what it's still called?) to get into the university course of your dreams. So those kids that want to be vets, and doctors, and lawyers, there is so much competition to get into these courses that only the cream of the crop succeed. So when you're in high school, it feels like if you didn't spend your whole year 12 with your head in books in order to get the top of the top marks possible, you weren't going to be a vet, a doctor, or lawyer.

But what if you have a bad year? What if your parents get divorced, or a loved one dies, or you move to a new school, or you break a bone, or develop a mental illness, or break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or pick up an after school job or after school activity you're really passionate about? What if you have to babysit your siblings all the time, or frankly get burnt out on the whole stress and pressure of trying so hard?

What if you're just not that great at school, and at the end of the year, your grades and ATAR score reflect that and you don't get into the university course of your dreams? Does that mean the world shouldn't get to benefit from your passion to save lives or develop cures?

NO. IT DOESN'T.
There are so many different routes to get wherever you want to go, you guys. Going from high school to university to the job is merely one of them. In my experience, it's actually a lot easier to get into a course as a mature age student with some life experience than it is as a high schooler when all you have is an ATAR score. So don't stress so much about it, okay?
PictureGratuitous Pet Photo: Henry and Tessa CASE IN POINT.
I have THREE friends who always wanted to be vets, but not one of them got in to veterinary courses straight out of high school. Two of them started science degrees and the other started a nursing degree instead.
After finishing their science degrees, both Josh and Fiona got into vet degrees, Josh got a job at a clinic and now he OWNS it. And he hired Fiona! Bec was a nurse for a while but has now gone back to uni to follow her dreams and is currently studying again to be a vet.
PictureRecently completed cover for a client MY STORY.
Me, I developed an illness in year 12. I pretty much went blind for several months and was on a lot of drugs and eye drops to counteract it. I couldn't read or see screens or even people's faces so I couldn't study. It was infuriating and super stressful. 

I DID get into the course of my dreams, though (I didn't need as high a score as some people) but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I got into a Bachelor of Creative Arts at LaTrobe University in Melbourne. Great course, I'm sure, but I yearned for something practical in which I would learn how to write scripts and what they looked like, learn how to write a novel, but my course was all theory, which I didn't realise at the time that a lot of university courses are.
So I dropped out after the first semester, worked a shitty job for the next semester and started a better course for me, a Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing & Publishing) at Box Hill TAFE that DID teach me how to write scripts and novels and set me on my path. 

And what you want when you're in high school can change drastically as you grow up, learn more about the world you actually live in outside the high school bubble.

I never knew being a freelance writer or editor was a thing back in high school, but here I am doing it and really enjoy writing about a variety of different topics that interest me, and editing other people's novels and worlds. I didn't know I'd enjoy designing book covers and typesetting, but they're some of my favourite jobs that I receive. 
Who knew I had those skills?

I always wanted to be a full-time author when I was younger, but when I did that, I realised I also needed something else. I don't enjoy writing novels full-time. The reality isn't as good as the dream had been. And that's totally okay. I think I'm getting off track. I just want high schoolers to know there are other ways to reach your dreams even if you're not great at school. You can still get there, or develop new, bigger, even better dreams. I have new dreams all the time, other things I also want to do. And I'm going to.

So try and enjoy this big, full-on final year at school, okay? It's going to be hard, but it should also be fun.

It was incredibly timely that I found this video today, from super-successful author John Green about how he kind of sucked at high school.

And look at him now. Picture
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Published on March 08, 2015 17:41 • 28 views

January 31, 2015

I'm just gonna leave this here to brighten your day.

Enjoy. Picture
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Published on January 31, 2015 16:17 • 38 views

January 12, 2015

I'm not into sad books or movies. I'm just... I'm not into being depressed, okay? I don't like being sad. I usually find it kind of weird that people love to watch and read about people suffering to the very core of their soul. But some peeps can't get enough of it.

So even though I loved John Green's Paper Towns, I knew The Fault in Our Stars, a book about a girl with cancer, a wasn't going to work for me, no matter how many of you out there adored it.
Picture And then the movie happened. And everyone raved. But still, it was A MOVIE ABOUT A GIRL WITH CANCER. I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO RIP MY HEART OUT AND I LIKE IT WHERE IT IS, THANKS.

I don't know what happened this weekend. I was home alone. I had the opportunity to watch it. Everyone loved it so surely I'd be fine. It couldn't break me that much, right? So what the hell.

I watched The Fault in Our Stars. And just like everyone else, I fell in love with Hazel Grace and Augustus.

BUT THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO DO. AND THEN BIG HORRIBLE STUFF HAPPENS.

And then I looked like this. Picture Thanks John Green, thanks director, Josh Boone, and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Thanks Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus). You ripped my heart out and I bet you're not even sorry.

But it's beautiful, you guys. If you haven't read it or seen it, go remedy that immediately. Maybe I'm starting to understand the joys of having your heart ripped out by fiction, after all. Picture
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Published on January 12, 2015 23:52 • 41 views

January 11, 2015

Picture Look at dat face... Well CC has settled in well to her new home. When adopting a fourteen-year-old cat who was left on the RSPCA's doorstep in a box and consequently has no available history, you never quite know what you're going to get.

Well the mystery I brought home is a litter trained, purring cat who loves being brushed, a good tummy rub and head massage.

Which is all A-OK with me. I could do without having my face stomped on between 5 and 7am and ears assaulted with meows each morning because IT IS BREAKFAST TIME AND WHY AREN'T YOU FEEDING ME? but I am learning to accept that due to my love for this cat I will never sleep in again.

In my last post, just before bringing her home, I suggested one of the items on your shopping list before adopting a cat should be a cat bed. Which, yes, in most circumstances, is a very important purchase.

CC, however, has shunned the expensive, oh-so-soft cat bed and prefers sleeping straight on the floorboards under my bed, curled up on a pair of my jeans on the floor, or, if I'm lucky, she shares my bed with me.

And these last couple of weeks she won't leave my bedroom. Ever.
I titled this post "The Monster Outside the Door" for a reason.

And that reason is a king charles cavalier named Toby.
Picture gopix.com One of these.

He's staying with us for another month until his daddy gets back, and he's the sweetest thing ever. Except when he sees CC. He pretty much wants to eat CC.
Lacking doors in any of the common areas of the house, the safest place for CC (and unfortunately, her litter box) is in my room with me.

Sometimes we lock him outside on gorgeous days like today and open my door wide to give her some freedom... but it seems it doesn't feel safe outside my room. She stares at the open door with wary apprehension, sure the monster is going to round the corner any moment. We've tried introducing them, but it's all a bit too traumatising for CC.

Poor kitty.

But it's only temporary. And she's currently lying beside me, meowing with indignation each time I stop stroking her.

I better get back to it.
A pet owner's job is never done. Picture
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Published on January 11, 2015 17:44 • 29 views

December 13, 2014

Picture Grumpy cat (www.grumpycats.com), aka Tardar Sauce A couple of days ago, I was getting a cat. I can't tell you how excited I was to give someone who needed it a loving home. And when it comes to pets, I have 30-years proven experience in loving the heck out of them.

Today, I HAVE a cat (!!!), but I'll talk about that more in later posts.

There are a lot of things to think about when preparing to bring an animal into a new home. Like humans need stuff, like a bed, fridge, toilet, etc., so too do pets. It's been a long time since I had a cat and the list of purchases to make before the new arrival even set foot into the house surprised me.

If you're surprising a family member with a cat for Christmas, or bringing a cat into your family at any time of year, make sure you're prepared before they arrive. You have a lot of shopping to do ahead of time so you'll need to think of some good hiding places.

YOUR SHOPPING LIST
 
DIET
Food bowlWater bowlGood quality (vet-grade) dry food (good quality, otherwise they risk costly oral health issues down the track) Wet food (optional - did you know they generally don't hold any nutritional value, it's all in the - good quality - dry food? Me either!)
AMENITIES
Bed/blanket/somewhere warm to sleep that is their ownLitter boxCat litterCat litter scooper (for scooping out ... you know)Grooming brushCollar (and if you know what you're calling him/her already, name tag as well!)
RECREATION
Scratching post (if you don't want your furniture or carpet shredded!), preferably a tall one so that the cat can get a full stretch, which they LOVEToys (cats may sleep a lot, but just like us they do need some mental stimulation, especially when left alone for extended periods. Otherwise MISCHIEF MAY ENSUE.)
Phew! A lot more to think about than you realised, right?

Now you are ready to bring home your new cat.
I'll share how my experience went with you next time!

xoxo, Picture
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Published on December 13, 2014 15:07 • 38 views
The end of ear music mash-up is here! 

So what have been your favourite new songs of the year?

What songs did you like to begin with but have been so over-played by the radio, store radios (this is a thing, isn't it retail workers and heavy shoppers?) or by yourself that you can't stand it anymore?

Last year I loved Roar by Katy Perry but it was all over every radio station and by the end of its run I was gritting my teeth and demanding the station be switched or song skipped, much to my Katy Perry-loving friends' dismay.


This year, that song is Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. They seem to play it a couple of times an hour on the top 40-playing radio stations around here.

On the flip side, I wasn't that into Air Guitar by McBusted when I first heard it, as it felt like a step backward for them, but I've heard it a couple more times now and it's grown on me. It's a pretty rockin' track.

I want to hear yours, though!

Loves and loathes. Go! Picture
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Published on December 13, 2014 14:30 • 23 views