Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Magic of a Book Hangover

There’s no more bitter-sweet a feeling than a book hangover: the emptiness that echoes in your body after finishing a book and are jerked back into the harsh reality of the real world.

On one hand, there’s a sense of accomplishment: I did it. I finished the journey. I travelled the pages of this book, navigated between the words, lived and breathed with these characters. It’s truly like being Bilbo Baggins, arriving in the Shire after traveling with the company of dwarves. You know you will never be the same again, and there’s a sense of magic in that revelation.

But there’s also a twinge of melancholy because you know you will never be the same again; a part of you still belongs in the book world. The characters you journeyed with seem more real than your friends and family. A book hangover is like culture shock, being torn from one land into another before you were ready to say goodbye.

I can think of many occasions where a book has wrecked and ruined me for the real world, from the sporadic crying fits that wracked me for the next three days after finished Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass to the emptiness of leaving Middle-earth behind after my father read out the last words from Return of the King. And even though I’m back in the real world, I feel a small part of me remains in those books too.

And there is the sweetness: knowing a part of you stays with the magic forever. What books have given you a book hangover? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When the Branch Breaks: A Post about Rejection

The last year and a half has been pretty awesome. I’ve entered a program in school I’m really excited about, Leah’s on the adventure of a lifetime in Australia, and we’ve written a new novel that we’re in love with.

However, there was one big thing we focused on the last year: acquiring an agent to represent our young adult novel, JANE UNWRAPPED. But we weren’t querying, entering Twitter contests, or doing any other typical things an aspiring-author might be doing. Since the fall of 2013, we had been engaged in a review and revise with a certain agent, and throughout the year, focused only on these revisions.

This agent turned the book from a gigantic pile of word garbage to a fast-paced epic. We were flabbergasted at how she knew the story better than us, and we were so excited about every new draft. The notes she provided were extensive and detailed, and although we hadn’t signed, in the back of our minds, we thought there was no way she would spend so much of her time and energy on our manuscript without intention to sign.

But then, we didn’t hear from her for almost fives months.

It’s submission season, we said. Then: it’s the holidays, no one works during the holidays! Then: it’s after the holidays, so she must be catching up on other stuff. A week after sending our second nudge, we received a reply.

The agent replied that her client list had grown too large and she no longer had the time to dedicate to our novel.

Reading the email was like a blow to the stomach. I’ve never had an issue with rejections—in fact, they’re something Leah and I collect like badges of honour, laughing at each new one. But this was different. We had dedicated a year and a half to this one person’s vision of our book, and in our minds, we already considered ourselves a team.

It felt like I had been climbing a tree, clambering up the branches, and finally, I could see the top. I was still a few branches away, but the sunlight was streaming through, and I was reaching, reaching, reaching, just about to grab that last branch—

And then someone sawed off the branches I was holding onto, and I tumbled down towards the earth, collapsing on the ground. And all I could do was look up at how far there is to climb…

My significant other—a musician, so no stranger to creative rejection himself—said to me, after I gave him my tree-climbing analogy: “Turns out the branch snapped because the tree was rotting and you couldn’t tell that from the bottom. So now you can go find a new, healthy tree to climb, and you’re like five times better at climbing.”

As much as I want to dwell in my sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment, it won’t make the agent change her mind. The book is miles better than it was this time last year, and the waiting time gave us the opportunity to write our new novel, which we’re super stoked about.

So what happened when I received that rejection? I sat and stared at it for a while, and then I cried that powerful, ugly kind-of cry that you save for only the worst occasions, and then I dried my face and sat down at my computer and wrote a new query letter.

I start climbing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Week in Pictures | My Week in Pictures | January 9th 15- January 15th 15

Friday January 9th

I went to an outdoor movie where I watched Mockingjay!

A photo posted by Leah & Kate Rooper (@leahkatewrite) on

Saturday January 10th

Spent the day wondering around the city. Great views of the Opera House from the Botanic Gardens.

Sunday January 11th

Had a relaxing lazy Sunday, and worked on this video! :)

Monday January 12th

I downloaded the new app storie! If you have it add us @leahkatewrite Also comment your storie name below and we'll check you out!

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Tuesday January 13th

Cleaned up! And we found Captain Barnacles who had be lost forever! #AuPairLife

Wednesday January 14th

The little girl went to the mall where they had they really fun craft project! Painted a pony together. <3

Thursday January 15th

Because I've been living under rock I finally saw Big Hero 6!  It was really good! The animation was amazing. I particularity enjoyed the short in the beginning.

I Slept through New Year’s Eve in Australia | Dealing with Travel Disappointment

Hi guys, Leah here. As many of you know, I recently made the move to Australia, and it is awesome. 2014 was the year I moved to Australia. 2014 was my year of big change and adventure. And how perfect would it all be to ring in 2015 in Australia!

New Year’s Eve was all planned out. I was heading up to the Gold Coast to celebrate the night at Surfers Paradise...which means I was up at 5am to catch my flight from Sydney to Brisbane. (You can probably see where this is going)

Once my friends and I arrived in Brisbane, we spent the whole day at Wet’n’Wild. It was over 30 degrees Celsius. 

We had a great day, splashing in the wave pool, and braving slides where the floor gave out beneath our feet. But after standing in lines, in the 35 degree heat, by the time we made it home we were exhausted.

We ate dinner, and then proceeded to get ready. Despite being super tired, I was still excited.

This was the first New Years Eve in my entire life where I wasn't in my home town. This was my first New Years being single in 5 years!

Maybe I’d kiss a hot Aussie at midnight, maybe I’d watch the fireworks appear over the beach and it would somehow set 2015 on the right track!

Except it was only 9pm, and we didn’t have to leave till 10, so I just lay on my bed…and when I opened my eyes, it was 12:40am. I bolted up—I couldn't believe it. I’d slept through New Years Eve.

But not just any New Years New Years Eve in Australia!

I sort of sat stunned for a moment. I couldn't believe it. It was over, gone, and there was nothing that could be done to change it.

So what happened next?

I went back to sleep, and in the morning my friends and I had a good laugh about us all falling asleep.

And then?

We had a great rest of the trip.

We went to Movie World, explored Brisbane, swam in the pool, and by far made up for missing NYE with a fabulous night ( and morning ) in Surfers Paradise. 

Sure, missing the main event of our trip could have put a damper on everyone’s spirits and made everyone bitter and angry. But what would that accomplish? It wouldn’t have brought NYE back, and it would have just made the rest of the trip suck.

When dealing with disappointment while traveling, you only have two options.

1.) Shake it off and move on

2.) Hold onto it and ruin even more of your trip

I’ve had my share of travel disappointments so far such as losing my camera, being so sick in Disney World that Kate had to push me around Epcot in a wheel chair, and visiting a Japanese onsen That resembled a bathtub more than a pool.

But a great start to the New Years doesn't just happen because of a couple fireworks. Change doesn't just happen because you change a number at the end of the date.

For me, change happened when I stepped on the plane to Australia on October 23rd.

And plus, sometimes the best memories are because of travel disappointments. I’ll never forget that Kate and I had the entire Tokyo Disney to ourselves because of a giant rainstorm! 

We always learn from mistakes, so it’s going to take a quite a few disappointments before we’re seasoned travel pros. If you’re dealing with travel disappointment, the only thing you can do is shake it off and resolve to make the most of the situation.

What are some of your worst travel disappointments? Share your stories in the comments

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Week in Pictures | January 2nd 15- January 8th 15

Friday January 2nd


Explored the Gold Coast and found this awesome water park. We were the only one's for the last session so we had the whole course to ourselves! The lifeguards who had to stay may not have been so happy, but we had a blast.

Saturday January 3rd

We explored Brisbane during the day, then spent the night on the Gold Coast making up for falling asleep on NYE.

Sunday January 4th

Didn't arrive home to 8am. I got to see Surfers Paradise in the morning, which was awesome. Then I flew home to Sydney that night. (Snapchat @pandora55 )

Monday January 5th

Missed this little person so much! Plus her mom made her a Star Wars skirt, so she was pretty much the coolest kid in pre-school, ever!

Tuesday January 6th

Spent the day catching up on personal work. Have you seen our How to Edit your Novel video?

Wednesday January 7th

Concentrating on my art portfolio. My subject of choice, is of course, Egypt.

Thursday January 8th

Skyped with Kate! Planning her trip out here in May. We promise we'll have tons of fun adventures for you guys!

A photo posted by Leah & Kate Rooper (@leahkatewrite) on

My Week in Pictures | December 26th 14- January 1st 15

Friday December 26th 

I was still quite sick, so I spent the day watching The Walking Dead and doodling.

Saturday December 27th

Went outside to go to the doctor. The only good part about that trip was I found this awesome bag for half off. (By the way if you would like to see daily snaps of my adventures in Australia add @pandora55 )

Sunday December 28th 

Desperately trying to get better for my trip to Brisbane I stayed in... again! At least I was productive editing YouTube videos

Monday December 29th 

Guess what I did? That's right popped cold pills and stayed in bed! My rest time today was drawing Rey from Star War episode 7!

Tuesday December 30th 

Leaving for Brisbane tomorrow, and after very sadly losing my own camera, I went to the mall and bought myself a new one! Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday December 31th 

Took a early morning flight to Brisbane from Sydney then spent the day at Wet'n'Wild.  Spoiler: Fell asleep and missed NYE! :(

A photo posted by Leah & Kate Rooper (@leahkatewrite) on

Thursday January 1st

Laughing off missing NYE we spent the day at MOVIE WORLD! It reminded me a lot of Universal Studios. Was lots of fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Five Ways Changing Your Hair Changes Who You Are

I was terrified. I sat in the chair, feeling as if it was made of daggers. My heart pounded and every inch of me screamed to get up, to run, to flee for my life. My captor held the sharpened tools to my head, the edges glinting in the glaring light, and said: “So, sweetie, what are we doing with your hair today?”

“B-bangs,” I choked out. “J-just bangs.”

As the hair stylist wrapped that black, choking frock of death around my neck, I closed my eyes, and thought, This is the end.

Why is changing our hair such a big decision? I don’t know about you, but even the slightest change, such as getting bangs, was a huge source of conflict for me. I’d always had long, brown hair. Sometimes I got highlights, or dyed it darker, but it had always been long and brown.

I think a big reason for this was because that’s how I was forced to keep it while I modeled; as a model, any physical aspect of yourself is not yours to explore, to style, to dictate. And as soon as I quit modeling, I began a new relationship, and lingering confidence issues from fashion modeling made me think I would be undesirable if I changed my hair in any way.

But after about six months of freedom from modeling and getting settled into my relationship, I realized something crazy: my hair didn’t define me. This realization didn’t come easily. Even as I sat down at the hairdresser, I had regrets. What would I even look like?

But getting bangs didn’t just give me a new look. It unleashed a floodgate of desire to experiment with my hair—and so, my identity—and a new-found sense of self-worth. I went on to cut my hair just below my ears, to bleaching it and dying it blonde (which you can find out more about on our Youtube channel), to growing my bangs out, to dying it bright pink, and finally, to having it red.

Throughout this hair journey, I’ve learned a lot, not just about my locks, but about myself. Here’s five ways changing your hair changes who you are.

1.) It’s liberating. I could not believe how I felt when I got all my hair cut off; I finally felt like I wasn’t ruled by my hair, like my beauty didn’t depend on if my hair was styled or not. I’ll fully admit I looked like a boy if I didn’t wear make-up, but it was freeing! When I change my hair, I can be anyone I want: a spunky red-head, a classic blonde, the girl-next-door.

2.) It gives you confidence. There is no better feeling than showing off a new ‘do. Take p
ride in the change and let the compliments roll in! Finding out you can pull of a new hairstyle can increase your self-assurance—and even if it didn’t turn out well (my super saiyan hair, anyone?), then getting over the initial shock and rocking a strange hair style definitely forces you to be confident!

3.) It’s fun. Honestly, it’s just plain awesome to see the reveal, whether it’s a hair stylist turning your chair to the mirror or stepping out of the shower to see your new colour. Watching your own metamorphosis is entertaining!

4.) Change is healthy. I was in hair purgatory, constantly afraid of altering my look. But like anything, change helps us grow, and a hair cut is a great way to trigger an emotional change. As Coco Chanel said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”

5.) It’s just hair! As terrifying as it may be to alter your look, it is just hair! You can always dye it back to its original colour, go to a professional, grow it back. Sure, sometimes I crave my long, brown hair, but I know I can always have that look again. As for my next style? Well, I’ll just have to see how I feel next week.

Anyone have any hairy stories? I’d love to see them in the comments!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Week in Pictures | December 19th 14- December 25th 14

Friday December 19th 

I got to see my favourite little cat! I swear travelers must have had it so hard before skype!

Saturday  December 20th 

I went with some other AuPair to Carols in the Domain. It was really great. It felt like a summer music festival although it was in July! Such a strange feeling. We all got to hold candles to the Christmas carols.

A photo posted by Leah Helen Rooper (@leahrooper) on

Sunday December 20th 

Everyone has a picture standing in front of the Harbour Bridge, but how many people have a picture swinging in front of it! My friends and I found the best spot to snap a couple photos!

Monday December 21st

My sister and I have got a Santa photo every year since birth. This is the first year we've been apart so Kate went with her boyfriend. My mother was quite upset, so he kindly creepily inserted me into this photo....

Tuesday December 23rd

I got my actual Santa photo with the little girl I look after!

Wednesday December 24th

It's Christmas eve and Santa brought us all PJ's to help us sleep! Mine are the Cinderella ones :) :)

Thursday December 25th

My first Aussie Christmas! It was a great day. Presents in the morning then a giant Christmas lunch!