Thursday 29 December 2011

2011 Round Up…

What a year it has been. So much has changed in my life in 2011 and it has been the year that set me on the right path to achieve my ambition of writing a fantasy novel (and hopefully getting published one day). Elloise Hopkins has been in the public eye for nearly 12 months now so I feel a re-cap of the year is necessary to see what I have done and where I am heading.

January I began my MA in Professional Writing and set up my own online profile. February I really worked hard on the planning stages of my novel and started to let it brew. In March we had a family bereavement and I also went to Dublin on a tag rugby tournament so that was a difficult month but I kept myself busy planning and writing in the background. April I ventured to London Book Fair to learn more about the industry and I also took a week’s holiday bereft of internet access and realised how much I actually relied on my online profiles for learning and support from fellow writers. May brought a trip to Oxford and a real boost to my networking and then June, halfway into the year I wrote a flurry of short stories and started to concentrate on structure and the technical aspects of writing with a view to improving my craft. In the first half of the year I also started writing regular book reviews for the British Fantasy Society.

After six months of full time work and part time study on top of all the reviewing, learning, networking and maintaining my online profiles I had a real idea of how much I actually took on in 2011. Sometimes it seems overwhelmingly too much but I have to remember that I chose to do all of these things and when I step back and really concentrate on that I remember how much I love writing and being actively involved in the genre industry. July was a blur of coursework and a well-needed holiday and in August I put fingers to keyboard and began my novel. Watching the word count increase week by week really encouraged me to keep at it. In September my enthusiasm for the writing had not waned although it was tricky balancing work and study as well as writing a novel. I became a reviewer for Fantasy Faction and a gorgeous weekend in Brighton for FantasyCon with the late summer weather helped to reignite my hunger to get my novel finished. In October the writing continued and I also finished another module of my MA. November was NaNoWriMo so writing took over my life. Enough said!

And now here I am at the end of December and what has been a fantastically enjoyable and an incredibly productive year. Yes I am tired and yes there have been some tough moments but look at what I’ve managed. I am a book reviewer for two prominent organisations and I have expanded my own blog to incorporate reviews. This means I get to read even more which I love. I have written over 100,000 words of my novel and aside from a couple of sticky moments it has flowed so much better than expected and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have thrown myself into the world of social networking and found it incredibly useful for my studying. I am halfway through my MA. I have made some great friends and received some invaluable advice and for the first time I really believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I am in a really positive place to begin 2012 in the same vein and hopefully by this time next year my novel will be finished and I will be working on the second book in the trilogy. What a year it has been.

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas?

Ok so not everyone celebrates Christmas and not everyone likes Christmas. Some people are completely indifferent to it and some are utterly over-the-top enthusiastic about it. I sit somewhere between these poles. I don’t celebrate Christmas for any religious reason but I do enjoy this time of year, particularly taking time off working to spend with my family and I love giving presents.

Unfortunately something about this year doesn’t feel quite Christmassy; I have something of the bah humbug about me. It could be the dreary grey miserable weather that has swept across my hometown over the last couple of days. A grey Christmas? Yes it looks like it. No romantic snow this year.

I’m not sure what is missing. What do I need to get me in a more Christmassy mood? I have wrapped presents and lined them up in their beribboned splendour. I have a decorated tree and fairy lights. I have four days without work and still I don’t feel quite right. I think this is only something that can be cured by watching the ‘What’s This?’ section of Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. That ought to do it. And to everyone who is feeling more festive than me – Merry Christmas! See you on the other side.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Part of the furniture…

I was sitting at work today and for the first time (possibly) I noticed that the office is covered in fire exit signs, pointing – rather obviously you might say – to the fire exits!

What worried me was that they have become part of the wallpaper. I am evidently so used to seeing fire exit signs that they simply do not register. Now in the office that is fine as I happen to sit near to the fire exit and a regular drill does drum home that the doors are there for a reason.

But what if I get caught in an emergency elsewhere? Are we just so conditioned to seeing 'warning!', 'danger!', 'fire exit', etc. everywhere that our brains have shut down?

With this new super-awareness I can now embark upon my adventures confident that I am prepared for any hazard. Well, until my brain switches off again anyway.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Book review: Snakestone and Sword

J.E. Bruce

Highly decorated Roman Centurion, Arrius Marcus Niger, hadn’t planned on being struck on the head and left for dead in a cold bog, but unfortunately that is what happened. Unsure how long he has been unconscious, Arrius awakens to the continuing sounds of battle and the mysterious black hound. A huge man approaches, draws a sword and speaks to him in a language he cannot understand. Preparing for death, and assuming that his death will be preceded by suffering of a worse kind, Arrius lies hopeless and waiting, but death does not come.

Instead, Arrius is captured, his wounds tended to – of a sorts – and in a delirium of fever and agony he is sold as a slave to a woman who can read his mind and bend his will, amongst other things. He is then dragged across the earth by his mysterious captors (whose very humanity and moral behaviour are highly questionable in various ways) and finds himself at the centre of an ancient alien war in which his own memories seem to be the key to triumph.

The opening to this book is exceptionally strong. Using a first-person point of view, Arrius tells us his story in brief: how he won his freedom from slavery, rose well through the ranks of the army becoming a Centurion to be revered and feared, and how he led his troops gloriously in battle – at least until he led them to their deaths anyway. Now he tells us to heed his warning: there are mightier and more capable enemies out there than even the Romans.

The main strength in this novel is the narrative voice, which remains consistent throughout. Arrius is a flawed protagonist, haunted by his memories of a dark and painful past, yet he tells his story with intelligence and wit, the light tone of the book helping the reader to deal with the more heinous elements of the tale.

Bruce uses a clever technique to fill in the background of the story whilst at the same time continuing Arrius’s journey post-capture. Each chapter begins with a short section from the character’s past as a young Arrius describes the hardships of his life before he became a Centurion. Each chapter then continues with events in the present. As the story progresses, the two narratives become closer together in time until they converge and we are fully able to understand how and why Arrius’s past affects his actions in the present.

The story moves at a good pace tracking Arrius’s journey with his captors as they take him farther than the ends of the earth to save humanity. Elements more akin to classic science fiction narratives play out in this novel but the main focus is on the principal characters and on Arrius’s story, rather than the action taking the key role. That is not to say that the book did not end with some unforeseen twists and turns and has set the plot up well to continue in the sequel.

Perhaps the most rewarding element of the book is the author’s ability to portray the intricacies of human behaviour in a lifelike and believable manner. Through Arrius’s point of view and his own perceptions of events, Bruce explores the effect of dominant relationships on the subservient party, as well as looking at sexual interaction and power struggles.

I am not overly familiar with the intricacies and history of the Roman Empire but Snakestone and Sword certainly made Arrius’s world accessible to me. The level of detail and description was enough to draw me into the story without being too much that it interrupted or detracted from the plot. The blend of scientific experimentation with the fae myth worked surprisingly well and the overall result is an enjoyable and well-executed read.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Shoebox Theatre…

Last Thursday saw me at the Open University in Birmingham to watch a performance of short plays by Shoebox Theatre – a local theatre company that focuses on ‘expanding horizons and breaking down barriers’, and they do just that, working with schools and care homes, bringing theatre to life in a manner that is unrestricted by ability or a conventional approach.

Two plays were performed, the first being a dark comedy set in a nursing home that provided a very lifelike portrayal of life for the inhabitants building to a rather moving conclusion and a powerful performance by the protagonist. In an amateur setting with no specialised lighting and accompanied only by a pre-recorded soundtrack, the performance was surprisingly effective.

The second play, and the more poignant one for me, was When? By Michael W. Thomas. This tracked an exchange between husband and wife arguing about whether to reveal a big secret to their daughter. At the end the secret was withheld from the audience and left to the imagination. Amongst the audience members there were varied interpretations about what the secret had been and this fuelled a great discussion afterwards.

What was perhaps most interesting for me, was that in speaking to the writer and performers afterwards, I learned that the writer did not have a particular secret in mind when he wrote the piece, rather it was important to him that it remain open. In contrast, the actors had decided to select a secret and keep this in mind so they themselves knew the ‘reality’ of the situation, which I think gave strength to the performance, and I came away from the evening both impressed at the calibre of the writing and the ease at which the actors of both pieces delivered strong and memorable renditions in a simple classroom environment.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday 11 December 2011

The Day The Emails Stopped…

Part 2.

When the office dwellers realised what was happening, they celebrated. This was a one off, an anomaly. A never again experience.

Suddenly they had several hours of email-free time. The corporates began to rebel. If there were no emails, they justified, then there could be no work. If there was no work then they were free. They could join the happy people outside. They consulted one another in hushed murmurs and amassed into a group. Like ants they planned and marched together from the office.

As the last one left the office, she took a quick glance at the world she left behind. There was a flash on a nearby computer screen. She blinked and looked again. Was it real? A cacophony of message bleeps and vibrating gadgets started up again, soon joined by the sound of running feet and excited voices. The last ant looked into the hallway, into the office and back again at the approaching crowd. As she was crushed by her again human colleagues, the pounding of footfalls was the last she heard of the day the emails stopped, and then the world went silent.

Elloise Hopkins

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Day The Emails Stopped…

Part 1.

The office was alive to the sound of messages bleeping, notification windows popping up, BlackBerrys vibrating to their sim cards’ content. The click of each mouse grew louder for each satisfying ‘sent’ and grew more frantic at the sound of every new message.

It was a while before the clicking became noticeably quieter and less frequent, a while before people started to look at each other in confusion as their desks became still. The pop up windows had gone. The inbox no longer stared out with the bold announcement of unread mail. A senseless whisper fed from one side of the office to another. “Have you had any emails?” “No. Have you?” “What’s happening?”

The emails stopped. For a long time no one moved, no one clicked, they hardly dared breathe. One brave man peered out of the window to find out whether the world had ended and they just hadn’t been told. It hadn’t. Outside people continued life regardless. They talked, laughed, shopped and strolled together in peace, oblivious to the terrors the corporate world was facing...

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday 4 December 2011

I want to be…

A Transformer. No really, I want to be a Transformer. And I’m talking about the original, retro Transformers. I loved these as a kid and the feeling has never gone away. I want to have cool sound bytes accompanying my every movement. I want to be able to change into a plane/car/hovercraft whenever the need arises and zoom from place to place with ease. Unless of course someone actually does invent a teleporter and then the need to be a Transformer will be somewhat negated.

I’m not sure which one I would choose. Starscream is brilliant but I couldn’t live with hearing my own screechy voice every day. Jazz was always very cool but I’m not sure a white Porsche is really my style. Bumblebee is yellow, which has never been a good colour on me. Optimus Prime, well a huge truck wouldn’t be the most convenient method of transportation. As a hovercraft, Seaspray was excellently styled but that may prove difficult for suburban roads. So that leaves me with…

Wheeljack. Sometimes a bumbling inventor, hailed as the fantastical mad scientist ready with the right gadget to save the day – except they usually caused more damage than they stopped. But he looks very cool and I do have a long-term ambition to make geek chic. Yes ok so they killed him off in the movie but I’m choosing to ignore his lack of immortality. He’s still a Transformer and he’s still cool.

Elloise Hopkins. 

Saturday 3 December 2011

NaNoWriMo - The End...

This year was my first NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) and I signed up with all the enthusiasm of a rookie. ‘Ok’, I said, ‘this is only going to triple my current average word count, no big deal right?’ Fair enough that is a slight exaggeration but I saw the task as being completely achievable albeit with a few minor adjustments to my normal routine – getting up earlier to work, writing through lunch, cramming more into my evenings and skipping activities such as cooking! I am suffering after a month of eating quick-fix meals I must confess.

Anyhow, the point is I am so stubborn that not winning (i.e. achieving the target word count of 50,000 words) was just not an option. I knew that my inbuilt competitiveness would kick in (competing with myself does not subdue the urge to win at all unfortunately) and force me to achieve the word count no matter what.

And so it began. Week one was easy thanks to the novelty value of this ‘game’ being all new and shiny and I could update my word count online each day and watch the little blue bar increase. Sadly week one lulled me into a false sense of security because by week two life started to get in the way and my word count slipped a little. By week three I was behind the target word count and had reached an uneasy standoff with the blue bar.

Suddenly the end seemed totally unachievable and a little depression sat in. After all, wasn’t what I was writing totally rubbish anyway? My muse had gone. What was the point of writing if it was just a churning of static scenes and half-developed ideas? Confidence was slipping, enthusiasm was zero.

Intervention: half way through week three I gave myself a severe talking to. What was I thinking putting myself off like that? I knew it would be hard, I knew it was three times my usual word count! Of course it was a challenge – uh that’s the whole point! The blue bar became my ally. I had to help it eradicate the grey and reach the end before the end of the month. I just had to.  I would never forgive myself if I failed.

Week four catch up commenced. Yes it was hard, yes it involved a lot of concentration and sacrifice but I did it. I knuckled down over the last weekend of November and broke through the 50,000 word barrier. It felt great, I won’t lie. This is a legitimate time in my life when being a stubborn so and so actually paid off. Next year I will definitely be signing up again if only to beat my score!

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 26 November 2011

The Ringer by Greg Hunt

It is not often I write reviews for people I know first hand or have met in the flesh but there was something admirable in the way this author has created his story from scratch and self-published it with a view to distributing it amongst the niche markets that will relate to the locations and themes of the book. The Ringer is now available. Find out more at Troubador.

Archie Malcolm is a naval officer, young, fit and keen to prove himself. Life is good; he has great friends, a hobby that keeps him out of trouble and he may just have met the love of his life, but it doesn’t seem quite enough. Archie is eager for a challenge and gets just that when his naval Commander tasks him with a mission that has so far turned up only empty leads. It seems the UK is cracking down on drug smuggling and new intelligence sends Archie and his hand-selected team off to the French Alps to investigate.

Meanwhile in South America, the seductive Natalia Morales, daughter of a notorious crime lord, is heading for the UK to see through her part in the family business. Local contacts await her arrival but unfortunately for Archie the centre of the drug plot lies closer to home than he expected. Friendships will be called into question, betrayal is definitely on the agenda and the ultimate question rides: will Archie get the girl?

With a gripping opening and a page-turning plot, the book tracks Archie’s progress as he works to uncover the drug plot and winds up tracing its roots to the last location he would have considered. Unexpectedly, his love interest Emma carries a fair section of the narrative and she faces problems of her own that inextricably link back to Archie. The plot is ripe with twists that keep the reader engaged up to the end.

I should explain that the title of this book refers to the hobby and frequent pastime of its protagonist – bell ringing. Campanology (which is the technical term for bell ringing) is a running theme in the book, not only playing a part in the action but also inviting us fully into Archie’s world and illustrating the social and practical concerns he faces in this aspect of his life. The book will certainly appeal to a niche market on this basis and bell-ringing enthusiasts will be thrilled at the level of detail and exposure the practice is given.

As someone who knows very little about campanology (and indeed had never heard the word campanology prior to opening the book) I did not feel isolated by the level of detail, rather I felt a satisfied sense of knowing a little more than I did before I read it and certainly for Archie at least there are more complex considerations to bell ringing than just pulling the rope. 

The action builds through Archie’s two worlds – his naval duties and his bell ringing – to a climax of Bond-style villainy, and should I ever enter a bell tower I suspect this book will be on my mind as a result of the highly visual reference. I shan’t tell you anymore; you will have to read it.

What is interesting is that the author uses an omniscient point of view and so throughout the novel the story plays out from every angle. The reader is fully immersed in each location and the roaming viewpoint gives opportunity to understand and empathise with each character’s motivations and desires at that given moment, no matter how small their part in Archie’s tale.

A sidestep from my usual genre fiction (fantasy/sci fi) this book is more akin to the action/thriller fast paced novels that fill airport bookshops and make for popular holiday reading. For me, in reading this book, complex multi-layered plots in imagined worlds gave way to a story that was driven more by the pace of reality and a need to know what comes next, which worked absolutely fine and provided a refreshing change to my usual reading material.

The Ringer is an easy read and a commendable debut novel, especially when you consider that it was written on a busy train on the author’s daily commute to and from a corporate office job. Escapism is a definite bonus and with a combination of descriptive prose and snappy scenes the reader is propelled from the UK to South America, the Alps and then drawn back again as Archie and the other characters converge to an unexpected climax. 

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Smoker’s Nose…

At work my desk is by a window four storeys up and underneath the window, at street level, people smoke. And when they smoke, the smoke rises and creeps through the window and up my nose. I am not a smoker so to me the smell of cigarettes is a heady blend of stale ashtrays and the fictional memory of what a real chimney should smell of, courtesy of Disney’s Mary Poppins.

It got me thinking about the smoker’s nose – what I mean by that is the fact that smokers are so used to the smell that they can’t smell it. How ironic is it that the people who are bothered by the smoke are the ones who aren’t drawing it into their lungs or onto their clothing/hair/accessories several times a day?

So why do we get used to some smells and not others? For example, I recently purchased my favourite perfume but after a while the smell does not seem to linger on me and I’m forced to frequently switch perfumes to keep the smell, well, smellable (new word? I’m coining it right now. Smellable is mine)!

So why is it that when I went shopping on Monday and spritzed myself (and by myself I mean my wrist, friendship bracelets that are permanently tied on and coat sleeve) with a different perfume – which by the way turned out to smell like a cross between over-scented pot pourri and moth balls – that four days later I can still smell the awful stuff? Is it some reaction by our brains to ensure that we are kept awake and alert by not being able to zone out smells that we don’t like? Answers via comments please! If someone can invent the selective nose I would like to apply. And if that is a new scientific breeding idea I’m taking credit for that too.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Book reviews coming soon…

As I write my way through my debut novel and undertake a course in Professional Writing, it becomes clear to me that many book sales and discussions today are driven not just by marketing but by word of mouth and personal recommendations.

It is for this reason I have decided to launch a monthly book review on my blog and the first one will be coming soon. Now I already write book reviews for online platforms – mainly focusing on debut works and big fantasy releases – but the blog reviews will be different.

Here I am going to focus on small press and self-published works in the hope of giving authors who are not benefiting from expensive online campaigns the chance to be read, reviewed and then read some more. Someone once told me there is nothing so valuable to an author as book reviews and so as someone who will one day be putting my own work out there for review I want to do the same for others.

If you have self-published a book or have released a book through small press and would like to put it forward for my monthly blog review, please contact me. I am a fantasy reader and writer so that is the genre I will be focusing on. First review will be going up before Christmas and I will continue from there. Look forward to hearing from you.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 15 November 2011


Redundancy. Such an ugly word both in meaning and in the physical appearance of it written down. There is something about the arrangement of letters in the ‘dundan’ portion that just doesn’t look nice to me. It is a word that we hear all too often in this climate and it has just claimed another victim.

Having myself been in danger of redundancy for some time, it is very unsettling to have to say goodbye to a colleague in these circumstances. First there is the cloak and dagger way in which the whole situation is handled. Communication breaks down. No one will tell anyone else what is happening; lots of sad, red, stressed faces walk around in silence creating an atmosphere thicker than quicksand.

Then there is the goodbye speech by the two-faced management. The hypocritical ‘you will be missed, thank you for your contribution, etc.’ announcements that everyone knows are false because this person has been made redundant so clearly their contribution wasn’t appreciated.

And last of all comes the aftermath. Walking into the office and looking at the empty desk where your friend sat. The pity and sadness you feel for their situation. The terror you feel and the sense of impending doom that you are next. Then the guilt for thinking of yourself when you still have a job and someone else has nothing. It is a horrible word and a horrible consequence and every day I keep my fingers crossed that the last one really was the last one. Sadly it never seems to be the case.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Blank Canvas…

The words ‘writer’s block’ get bandied about a lot. Now whether you believe or not, there is no denying that at some point in a writer’s life there will come a time when the blank canvas seems impossible to fill.

I just had one right now, when I opened up this document to write a blog, there it was. A white page glaring out at me waiting for my mark, and for some unknown reason I felt unable to write anything. Lucky for me the words blank canvas popped into my mind and saved me, but for a scary moment there I thought I was in trouble.

I like to think of myself as a non-believer in writer’s block and that there is always something to write, even if you know it will need heavy editing or have to be cut later. But today I am sparing a moment for people who really do feel that they suffer writer’s block. What a horrible feeling it must be to dread the page everyday and lose the love of the craft to a fear that the creative juices just aren’t flowing.

Here’s my shout out to anyone who thinks they have writer’s block – just write. Even if it is to express that you can’t write because you have writer’s block, just write and fill that blank canvas with a stream of frustrated consciousness.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 7 November 2011

Comic lover…

Since I started writing my own novel and studying, and I suppose tracking even further back than that when I discovered books by the likes of Robin Hobb and Mark Anthony that re-ignited my love of fantasy fiction, I have been immersed in almost exclusively reading novels of genre fiction and some classics. The old ‘if you want to write it then you need to read it’ school of thought kicked in and I have been reading my way through shelves of novels for years.

But that’s not to say I had forgotten my love of graphic novels and comics. In fact I’m dying to read the French graphic versions of Hobb’s assassin stories and I’ve never stopped watching cartoons and film adaptations. But somewhere along the way I just lost the urge to read graphic work. Mostly time constraints I suppose and the guilt of knowing that reading graphic novels/comics was for pleasure rather than work.

This is something I hope to remedy. Starting off with Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá et al (artists whose work I greatly admire) I am slowly sinking my teeth back into the world of graphics… and I am enjoying it no end. Suddenly I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on it all this time. It is perhaps a little daunting knowing where to begin and what styles to aim for but the possibilities are, let’s face it, pretty endless.

I certainly have a very visual mind, which I apply to my own writing and much as I think I will always be a writer first and a graphic artist second there is something wonderful about being able to watch a story unfold at the same time as reading it. I hope comics will take more of a place in my life from now on and who knows, I may even branch my reviewing out into this area to remove the guilt factor. The exciting part of it is that there’s a whole world of graphics out there waiting for me to discover it. Any suggestions welcome…

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday 2 November 2011


Well the writing month of November has begun. The target: 50,000 words in 30 days. In anticipation of the pain – physical and emotional – that I will be going through over the next month I have re-named it ‘November Pain’ after a song that I love but thanks to my father’s request to play it as his funeral now has a darker connotation. Thanks dad!

So day one kicked off and I wrote 2,000 words, which wasn’t a bad start when you consider that I was at work all day and then came home to the usual boredom of chores, dinner and juggling life as a student with life as an author and book reviewer. Not too shabby. 48,000 to go!

This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo and I have a beginner’s hunger to ‘win’. I’m taking this as a personal challenge and I know failure is not an option if I want to keep my sanity (and avoid the wrath of Sam Sykes who publicly warned me via twitter that I couldn’t let our houses down – Sam, I’m on it!). So there it is. Writing is on. Life is on pause. Good luck everyone. Good luck self!

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 31 October 2011


You may say they are a writer’s essential tool. Many authors throughout history have relied on the typewriter for their trade, some no doubt still do, unswayed by the lure of modern solutions. The typewriter never fails to conjure up an image of Murder, She Wrote in my mind.

I am not one of those that hail the nostalgia of a typewriter though. I admire them for their contribution to writing and would never seek to belittle the device. But for personal preference I prefer to work on the modern machine – the lighter touch, the in-built spell check, the backlit keyboard, the softer tap.

There is something completely unmistakable about the sound of a typewriter. It has the power to silence a room within seconds. This happened in my office recently. I was overjoyed to see a typewriter released from the confines of its cupboard and set to work, the clack clack vroom totally at odds with the rest of the office.

Then a couple of weeks later there was the obligatory PAT testing. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. Would the old faithful pass or would it be condemned to live out the rest of its existence in some private hole? My excitement was almost un-containable when… it passed!

So the typewriter is not yet obsolete. It thrives for the few remaining believers and proudly clack clack vrooms away. How much longer will the typewriter last? I think I will be sorry to see it go when the dream ends.

Elloise Hopkins

Saturday 29 October 2011


In continuing celebration of my favourite words, today’s is peculiar. I use this word fairly often in daily life (mainly in celebrating the strange and wonderful people I have the fortune to encounter living in the city).

When I started writing this blog, I typed the word peculiar and then had a mini-crisis about how to spell it. Doesn’t it look peculiar! I thought. That spelling can’t be right: it looks peculiar. The dictionary (today’s choice the Cambridge Dictionaries Online) states the meaning as “unusual and strange, sometimes in an unpleasant way”. How wonderful for a word to look as odd as the meaning it portrays.

Indeed I do employ it mostly in an unpleasant way, usually to describe sinister characters or unusual flavours of sandwich perhaps. And when I say unusual, the most recent encountered was a golden syrup sandwich – too sweet for my taste I’m afraid. Definitely peculiar!

So for the day I am enjoying the wonderful weirdness of the word peculiar. Join me and share an unusual and strange sentence using this word.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Fantasy Faction…

Well, it is official, I am on the Fantasy Faction staff list and my second review has been posted. I’m equal parts of excitement and fright at the moment as I deal with the joy of being able to contribute weighed up to the trepidation at whether I’ll be able to live up to what has already been accomplished by the site.

I’m what you could class as a newly emerged fantasy writer and began following the site earlier in the year in conjunction with setting up my own online profile. My aim was to become more familiar with the industry and I have thus far found Fantasy Faction to be a great place to get information about authors, books, the industry, writing tips, genre specific information and the all important encouragement. The 500 club has so far been a great tool in getting my first novel drafted.

Now I find myself on the staff list I will be supplying book reviews to the site on a regular basis. My focus will be on new fantasy releases and the odd classic from time to time. I have old favourites that get regular reading cycles and I also love to discover new voices in the fantasy landscape.

All that remains to be said is I’m looking on this opportunity with enthusiasm and am thrilled to be part of it. In its relatively short lifespan the site has already achieved so much and there are more exciting developments planned. Visit and join in today.

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday 21 October 2011

How to survive…

Office cooing sessions. I’m sure at some point we’ve all experienced an awkward ‘cooing’ moment. By cooing moment I mean those social occasions during which one is obliged to express interest/pleasure/admiration or other about someone else’s excitements. A new baby, their holiday photos, or the autograph they got when they met a celebrity you have either never heard of or have no interest in yourself.

I had one today in fact when a colleague brought their baby into the office for the obligatory ‘show off the baby’ session. I am not overly child-friendly myself – children make me very nervous. To me the harmless, adorable baby signifies a loss of independence. Couple that with the possibility of sticky fingers, shrill sounds and poor dining etiquette and it becomes evident that I’m not exactly prime ‘cooing over the baby’ material.

I do understand that everyone has their own opinions and that the majority of people love babies. But to me I see life being drained away by the stresses and exertions of parenting.

I try to make the right nods of my head and the right sounds of admiration. But I do this from a safe distance and no matter how hard I try, I can’t help a little fear manifesting itself in a half grimace that pulls one corner of my mouth just a little higher than the other. I am exercising my right to be afraid of children and I’m not afraid to admit it. Where are Punch and Judy when you need them?

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Language in fiction…

Language in fiction!*!*…

This blog discusses strong language but I will try to refrain from swearing during it. I must confess I live in the modern world. It is a world where my acquaintances use swear words frequently. The opening scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral springs to mind. Yes, sometimes my life is like that. Sometimes I even do it myself. I am not averse to swearing, in its place, and believe it is a legitimate form of expression. Feel free to argue against me if you wish – it is all opinion.

Anyway, the point of the blog is that recently I’ve read some genre novels that employ strong (and when I say strong I mean very strong – what some would see as highly objectionable) language throughout to increase tension, expression, aid visual description and generally drive an impact. It works. It is effective. It makes these characters feel real, increases empathy, but more than that it gives them human flaws. And flaws are a large part of the human makeup. It seems the more flawed the character, the more engaging they are to the reader.

My novel is in first draft stage and so far in the writing I have not employed any overly strong language, but having seen the positive impact it can have from recent reads, such as George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Sam Sykes et al, I certainly won’t be ruling out the possibility, and when I know my characters a little better I may just need the odd spewing of language to really put the message across. To be decided.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 15 October 2011

New gadgets…

For me, there are few things that beat the arrival of a new gadget. It is the adult version of the ‘kid at Christmas’ feeling. Boxed, clean and shiny they arrive glinting at future promise.

I particularly enjoy peeling the clear plastic from the screen and untwining the charger, half-heartedly flicking through the instructions and then abandoning them to admire the finger-print and scratch-free casing of my new toy.

The first power on is arguably the greatest moment of all. The blink blink flash of a new welcome screen, logo and intro on display and the heady rush of trying to look at every menu, every application, every function at once.

But all too soon that new gadget feeling wears off, the shine dulls, the wear and tear emerges and the guilty mind cannot help but plan what the next new gadget will be.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 10 October 2011

FantasyCon blog 3…

The other panel that I found of particular interest at FantasyCon was ‘trends in fantasy fiction’. Panellists were Joe Abercrombie, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tom Lloyd and the discussion was moderated by Juliet E. McKenna.

Being a fantasy writer it has always been a bone of contention to me that there can be one (or indeed several) excellent books released that have a particular style/theme or focus on a particular legend, and then they are followed by a flurry of releases that do nothing more than clone the originals. You know what I mean. It was a relief for the panel to mention the saturation of the young adult market with paranormal (particularly vampire) romance which is something I frequently find myself ranting about. Have we not moved on yet? Surely there is a new idea out there ready to give that trend a break for another decade?

Aside from that, the panel did of course discuss trends in fantasy fiction. They predicted a rise of historical fantasy to come and a focus on the ordinary hero rather than the nobles, wizards and more important characters that always seem to be getting the starring roles.

They discussed the movement of fantasy into a darker – grittier if you like – style, where we are no longer so much concerned with great magics and epic worldbuilding, but with conflict, small details and intricate characterisation. Readers and writers of fantasy are no longer content with a straightforward good vs. evil plot. We need the complexity of the books to mirror the complexity of life, and as Joe Abercrombie questioned, why would you want to isolate your experiences from your writing?

It was interesting to hear about the reading habits of the panellists while they are in the throes of writing fantasy. The general consensus was that reading fantasy while writing gives a danger of being influenced by someone else’s style and that reading non-fiction was a way around this.

In general, none of the panellists were overly concerned about trends and certainly didn’t tailor or focus their writing to account for this. Lead in times for publishing would pretty much prevent that anyway. The speakers felt that real life issues will always affect writers and that writing will always be a way to make sense of those issues, so whilst we will always have trends through marketing campaigns –what’s hot, etc. – and pockets of market influxes, we should not allow this to affect what we write.

Certainly all very good advice that I am taking into my own work.

So that is the end of my FantasyCon re-cap. It was a fantastic weekend, very rewarding and rich in inspiration and information. Great thanks must go to the organisers and I hope to return in 2012.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 8 October 2011

FantasyCon blog 2…

As promised, here is the first summary of one of the panels I attended at FantasyCon 2011. There is one more to come in a later blog because there were two panels that were particularly useful to me, being a genre writer and a student.

The first was ‘maintaining your online presence’ moderated by Adele Wearing. Other speakers were Lee Harris, Scott K. Andrews, Stephen Hunt and Adam Christopher. This was a fascinating panel for me. Having launched my online presence earlier this year, it has become a constant learning curve and work in progress.

The advice was far too much to capture in one blog but the essence of the panel was that the necessities of an online presence, particularly for authors, are to make it work for you and to be yourself – or as much of yourself as you can be in a public form. There was an interesting discussion about what to do if you say something in public that you shouldn’t have said. General consensus was to apologise, then walk away. Cyber arguments and responding to negative reviews was a definite no.

The panellists recommended that authors should have at the least two online platforms – a website/blog and twitter or facebook for example, and then use cross feeds to reach a wider audience. But they are not there to do a hard sell. By all means promote yourself and your work, but not in every update and not constantly. It is ok to talk about other things. In fact it is ok to have a blog that isn’t about writing. Writers and readers don’t always want to be discussing technique and industry – yes it is hard to believe but true!

At one point the merits of social networking were discussed. It was established that it is well worth doing. It may not have a direct link to success, and many followers does not necessarily equal many books sales, however, it does reward fans, promote writers and many people do read books based on an online recommendation.

So the general advice: have an online presence, use it to your advantage and make it accessible to fans, potential fans and the industry.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

FantasyCon blog 1…

Like many fiction fans, I spent a long weekend in Brighton for FantasyCon 2011 and now I’m back home wondering which of the many books I acquired to read first and reflecting on the entertainments offered during the weekend.

Being a FantasyCon newbie I wasn’t sure what to expect from the weekend and went with an open mind. I’d heard mixed reports but in reality I found the crowd welcoming, the panels enlightening and the whole weekend very inspirational. Lack of sleep was a small price to pay.

Later in the week I will be blogging about some of the panels I attended and sharing my views on how rewarding the event was. I think the main plus was meeting so many likeminded people and so many aspiring genre writers, and let’s face it they have provided both encouragement and competition so it was worth the trip in every way.

For now, here’s my highs and lows from the weekend:

Amongst the highs are definitely: the intelligent and animated panel discussions; discovering Joe Abercrombie is as entertaining in person as he is on paper and gracious enough to sign my book after I stalked him halfway across the hotel; mass signings; the sheer collection of talent in one location; finding a female that swears more than I do; the Jacuzzi bath (wow bring back the British seafront heyday); the incredible weather (ok not strictly con-related but worth a mention!); and the amount of books on offer (and some free which was an unexpected bonus).

The lows: my inability to recall every intelligent comment made by the panellists; some rather questionable conversation starters, and killers, that will stick in my mind forever; a randomly acquired bruise on my shin (not sure if that was con-antics or pebbly-beach-antics); dropping a book into the Jacuzzi bath (thankfully it wasn’t a signed copy and it survived thanks to the fantastic weather); and bruised shoulders from carrying all the books home (but at least I know where those bruises came from).

Verdict: the highs win.

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Books that last…

Sometimes when I read a book I get this feeling, a warm fuzzy feeling, that this book is going to last. I just know, when this feeling spreads over me, that this is a book I will read again and when I do there will be something new, something greater than the initial read that will emerge on the second read and all subsequent ones. And there will be subsequent ones.

It is a feeling that crops up when writing is really good, when characters are fully rounded, when plotlines cunningly interweave themselves and when more reveals itself over time, cleverly concealed beneath the surface. It happens when the reader is completely pulled into the book for its entirety, when the end comes too soon and leaves a desire for more.

We all have favourite books that get revisited from time to time to seek out a heightened emotional experience. If I could write just one book that had even a shade of this potential I would be happy but until then I shall content myself with the search for greatness in others.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Alpha Female…

This is the name I am granting to a group of women that I sometimes have to deal with in my guise as a full time corporate.  These are the modern version of the 80s power female. These are the women who stride around on high heels, carry brand name bags in the crooks of their elbows and have a handshake grip to rival Hercules.

The Alpha Female is most easily identified by her appearance; a clash between masculine tailoring, over-sexualised make-up, necklines, and hem lengths more suited for a nightclub than an office. Eyes are smoky, hair stands up in a highly sprayed quiff, nails are gelled to manicure perfection and lips are permanently pouting. When shoulder pads are in fashion, they wear them.

Needless to say, I am not an Alpha Female. I am quite happy being shoulder-pad free. My handshake does not crush bones. My nails naturally show the wear of hours spent writing. My makeup does not take an hour to apply and high heels are definitely out: picture a cross between Bambi and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But does that make me any less valid in the business world? Why does my appearance eclipse my qualifications, experience and actions? I long to live in a world that harkens back to old values and not on one where we haven’t learned to overcome the old cliché of judging books by their covers.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday 25 September 2011

The decline of the eyesight…

The last year has been a trial – the first vestiges of aging have been thrown at me as though to find my tolerance limit. Growing old is the one thing that scares me most in life. Scares, in fact, is not a strong enough word. It terrifies me to my very core.

The first sign was a loss of patience and a general tendency to ‘grouchy old woman’ syndrome. The second was those creeping grey hairs that seemingly appear overnight to muddle themselves amongst the blonde. The third, and what I thought would be the worst, was reaching that dreaded birthday. We do not speak of the numbers!

So having survived the third I lulled myself into a false sense of security. I lied to myself, convinced myself that getting old is completely natural, nothing to worry about, just accept it and get on with life. Fine.

Except a few months later I realised my eyes were blurry. I couldn’t read signs or distinguish people from a distance. Am I overtired? I asked myself. Working too hard. Too much staring at a computer. Nothing to worry about. Just keep blinking, get some rest, relax. Eventually I conceded and got my eyes tested. I am now the not-so-proud owner of eyeglasses. So far I’ve only forgotten to take them into meetings six times, sat on them three, forgotten I was wearing them and scared myself with reading in giant vision up-close every other day and stabbed myself in the eye with the arm only twice. What a chore it is to grow old.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 24 September 2011


I recently read Chris Wooding’s The Braided Path trilogy and his use of masks has inspired this blog. They hold such mystery and are often the conduits for evil in fantasy stories.

Masks are a key element in studies of symbolism spanning a multitude of times and cultures. In traditional African society, they were used as a device of communication, worship and learning; a way to transform the human body into more than its basic components and use it to convey information and belief.

In modern society there is still no escape from the symbolism of the mask and masquerade that goes with it. All you need to do is look at a bookshelf, a fancy dress shop, watch television or film. You will see masks cropping up far more than expected. I attribute this both to the arrogant power and the hidden reverence we humans have for life, and its cost. We need masks both to hide behind and to exhibit in. Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 17 September 2011

How did I live before apps?

I finally cracked recently and invested in a highly popular brand name I’m-more-than-a-tablet tablet. I could no longer resist the lure, plus airport duty free swung it for me. I was a little dubious about the purchase, cost for one thing, and I wondered whether I would actually use it in reality. Being a writer the main appeal, and the reason I wanted one, was to have a super-portable sketchbook/laptop/plus that I can take everywhere and work everywhere.

I think the use it’s had since purchase has paid for it already, but what struck me the most about its usability is the ease at which one can obtain apps and the sheer volume of topics and helping hands available. How did I ever survive without being able to check the weather at the slide of a finger, being able to type in comfort without a constant power supply and table to hand, or find the meaning to obscure facts of life on the move?

Of course there are limits to its wonder. I can’t do all of my work on it but it will certainly make life easier when it comes to travel and lunch breaks in the park. I can carry a wealth of books, music and movies wherever I go without having to invest in a Mary Poppins style handbag. Plus it is really shiny. Oh, did I say that out loud?

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 12 September 2011

Favourite Artist of the Moment…

Whether it is the impending descent of the winter months and the associated sadness, or just a melancholy air, I am finding the work of H.R. Giger to be extremely inspirational at the moment.

Much of it is dark and gruesome at first glance but then this feels fitting given that I mainly read genre fiction that has its themes dotted with dark and gruesome acts. On closer inspection, the work is teeming with intricacies and beautiful details that seem to defy logic and traditional art.

Some people see only outrage when they look at Giger’s work. They see crudity for the sake of being crude and nothing more. I count myself lucky to be someone who can look beyond the initial gloss of a piece of artwork and search for the true skill behind it.

Giger’s work is in fact intelligent in message and execution and this week I will remember the discoveries I found when flicking through a book of his work and will strive to take some strength based on that into my own work.

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Cartoons as necessity…

As a child of the 80s, the so-named ‘retro cartoon’ is well and truly embedded in my everyday culture. My home is adorned with various cartoon-related memorabilia, ranging from the more recent Final Fantasy figurines to the original He-Man and Star Wars characters and the cheeky Thundercats.

This morning I wrapped up a present for someone in Spiderman wrapping paper whilst using a Count Duckula pencil to mark out the paper and a Danger Mouse DVD case to hold it still. I wore Supergirl pyjamas last night and had a conversation about Dungeons and Dragons.

All of these activities and items have such a natural place in my life that it is only on rare occasions that I wonder why these old cartoons have such a relevant place in my life decades on and why I still value them so highly.

It is said that young children take influence from and learn behaviour, mannerisms and values from cartoons. I can only assume that cartoons in the 1980s were so seeped in moral tales and full of educational values that they have lived within the subconscious of my mind ever since. I am certainly not ready to let go yet.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Mouse Pointer…

I’ll say it now outright, as my colleagues well know, I am not a fan of a certain possibly-world-dominating operating system. The words ‘not responding’ frequently send me into a rant about wasted time. Seriously, could I not just get through one day at work without having to scream at the computer?

On the plus side, it does make me love my own computer (different and far more stable operating system) a great deal more. But it has forced me to try to look on the bright side when I’m at work and find ways to overcome the rage. Today’s solution: the mouse pointer.

I removed that dratted, lying, teasing, tormenting egg timer, so that when the computer is taking an age to perform the simplest of tasks or when it is contemplating the two dreaded words, I can now gleefully watch a horse galloping across the screen. With a simple flick of the mouse I can line him up and play a commentary in my head, race against invisible foes, and sketch out a Wild West scene to my heart’s content. Ok so it’s not the best solution but it does calm me slightly. Any other solutions?

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Writing Update…

Well it is an exciting time for my author self. My first novel is underway and the draft of the first few chapters is done. The story has been brewing for several months, characters taking shape and acting out scenes for me, locations colourising and a complex range of events and emotions etching themselves out over time.

The writing has been smooth so far, my protagonist driving events very nicely with little direction or interference from my conscious mind. This is the first in a trilogy about powerful creatures that dwell in the Cloudlands and watch over the human races of the earth below. Their unique magic is under threat, the very fate of the world is trembling and the balance of it all will depend on the strength of few. I have multiple character threads to weave amongst one another and the main challenge will be keeping track of each character’s journey.

Overall I’m really pleased with progress so far but my one struggle at the moment is establishing exactly who my target audience is. It has been suggested that the book may have a crossover into the young adult market, but I’m hesitant. It may be that the story takes a darker turn and isolates itself into adult high fantasy. I have a female protagonist that faces a hard path and I’m not quite sure exactly what will get in her way. Only time will tell, and the writing is continuing daily. More updates as they’re available.

Elloise Hopkins.

Tuesday 30 August 2011


I used to love birthdays. A feeling of joy for several days around my birthday would appear and lift me to a higher plane of living. Birthdays meant parties, presents and fun. When I hit 21 the feeling increased. Finally there were no restrictions; I was legitimate. Being asked for ID was no longer a problem: I could legally prove that no matter what situation I drank, visited or otherwise ended up in, I was old enough to handle the responsibility.

But when 25 came along the days of happiness turned into weeks of depression. I couldn’t help but question why this had happened to me. How could I possibly be 25 when in my head I still felt 17? Doom and gloom filled my world. It was over. That was it. No more fun. No more enjoyment of cards, balloons, birthday badges and cakes, dressing up and blowing party poppers with guests. I lost interest in birthdays. I can’t explain the reason. For years before I had berated my father for the exact same behaviour: not looking forward to birthdays. But here I was suddenly doing the same thing.

30 was the low point. Yes indeed. For months I had a knot in my stomach. How could I be 30 when in my head I still felt 21? Doom and gloom continued, grew, morphed into such an exaggerated state of sadness. I would have happily hidden in a cave for the year and vanished into oblivion. Thankfully there were a few people and a few reasons that made life just bearable enough to stay in the real world, and I survived the dreaded day.

Now 31 is looming, fast, and I’m not sure how I really feel about that. Sure, being asked for ID now gives me a happiness to last a day or more. Sure, I can call myself mature, a woman of the world, a proper adult. But how can I be 31 when in my head I still feel 22? I’m starting to dread the anticipation of aging again. I think the only answer is to count backwards and hope it works. Fingers crossed.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Quirky eateries…

I treasure a love of the unusual and am always on the lookout for new places to visit. The most recent find was a very quirky pub in Rosebush, Wales. Invited out for lunch with a relative, I arrived at Tafarn Sinc expecting decent quality pub grub and a good spot to eat it in.

Whilst I did get good food – the home cooked ham and faggots were very tasty, although the request for a cappuccino did bamboozle the barman slightly and I had to settle for an old fashioned coffee with cream thank you very much – the real reason to visit this pub would be to enjoy immersing yourself in a piece of history. Within, the floor is covered in sawdust, the walls adorned with original artefacts and photographs. Real log fires and a wood burning stove provide warmth and cosy meals in this corrugated iron building – a relic from the slate quarry industry of the 1800s.

Outside, the picture is not so homely but definitely full of the ghosts of Wales past. Close to the site of disused quarries and in an area that was once a heart of industry, the old railway tracks sit amongst waxworks depicting how life was once. Eccentric? Yes. A little scary? Perhaps. But certainly atmospheric and definitely a talking piece so this gets my prize for a quirky eatery. I may make this topic another miniseries of this blog and see what other quirky eateries I discover on my travels.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Running late…

I confess I am one of those people who cannot stand to be late. It sends me into turmoil. If I know I am running late I panic, can’t think straight, my heart pounds harder than usual, just to rub in the fact that I am late. I hate being late.

But somehow, when I am running late, I seem to adopt a superhuman ability to perform everyday tasks with much more efficiency than usual. The dithering ceases and I manage to move myself from sleep to readiness in an amount of time that seems to make no sense in the real world.

It must be the adrenaline or sheer panic that spurs me into action. Why can’t I be this efficient in my normal life? I seem to drift away hours in procrastination (I also like to call it planning for my next piece of writing) seemingly without actually achieving anything.

I am formulating a plan to be prompt which may involve a complicated system of altering the time on all of my clocks, and streamlining my daily activities. Can I get dressed and brush my teeth at the same time? We shall see.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Festival Arts…

Festival Arts is a Birmingham based theatre troupe that relocates to St. David’s, Pembrokeshire, every summer to perform an open-air Shakespeare in the ruins of the abbey, a show for children at a local church hall, and the Sunday show – an evening of poetry, prose and music as they deem it.

This year I was lucky enough to catch both the kid’s show and the Shakespeare and got my yearly reminder of how much revenue and quirky entertainment the group brings to this seaside city. I have been watching Festival Arts summer performances for years and highly recommend it for a great summer seaside break with a difference.

Tuesday night gave me the colourful, musical extravaganza that is The Quest of the Jumblies. Based on the strange and wonderful poems of Edward Lear, this story is engaging enough for children while at the same time appeals to an adult’s love of the unusual and the lyrical. In fact the programme encouraged me to write my own Lear-ish limerick, which led to hours of post-show pub entertainment.

Thursday night I wrapped up warm and took up my place among the local birdlife in the atmospheric Bishop’s Palace for a performance of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The play was executed to a high standard and greatly enjoyed by all, but ever humbling is the effort and energy that goes into the shows from the performers, musicians and stagehands. They transform the ruins of the palace into a fully lit stage for a totally unique open-air show and the effect is truly magical.

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday 19 August 2011

Funny signs…

I am indulging in the countryside for a week in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, Britain’s smallest city, and yes it is small. But it cannot be denied that there is a cathedral (a rather spectacular one at that) where I will be watching Festival Arts perform open-air Shakespeare in the ruins of the old abbey on Thursday.

The purpose of this blog though is to celebrate my favourite funny sign ever, which is a permanent fixture on the coast road here in this wonderfully quirky place. Since first laying eyes on it, I have wondered what on earth was going through the designers mind when it was produced. Yes, I know, I can hear you saying that the purpose of the sign is of course to alert the innocent walker to the cliff edge and encourage them not to fall off. However, does this person really look like they are falling? Is it really a serious warning or a designer’s joke?

This person is clearly enjoying a relaxing and exhilarating dive off the cliff top into the sea and they have strategically planned their dive to avoid the rocks and hazards. This is in fact a popular spot for coasteering and I did once witness a coasteering leader encouraging her troops with the words “let’s go coasteering dudes!”

So for the moment this sign wins the most bonkers prize in my book. Feel free to contribute your own. Why not post them alongside this one on my facebook wall?

Elloise Hopkins.