Book two: work in progress

typewriter-peach-2As you all know I’m determined to write this next novel in the next six months like my dear friend and author, Kitty Neale.

I finished my research for this young adult novel and I just hope I can pull off such a sensitive storyline. I begin the job tomorrow writing 303 words a day for the next six months.

The deadline for me to finish my novel is the 12th of October 2019. I’m hoping this will give me discipline when writing and learning to push through writers block.

I am very proud to be part of the LGBT community that will be featured in this book and I’ve spoken to many people of gone through the same experiences as my characters so I’m hoping it will be authentic. It’s time we read more YA books; they seem to be ignored as novels for kids between 13-17 And are they just keep the kids quiet. But actually they carry the most serious messages more likely than Sophie Kinsella.

I haven’t ditched writing for adults good. Right now if I can help, Young people find the path in life through my writing then I’ll consider it in a success, Young adult writers are undervalued by far, when ultimately they are the ones guiding their preteen readers through reading about certain subjects that might not be discussed at school or a book that just helps and figure out who they are. Young adult writers are very brave; they often write the taboo that society thinks children cannot handle , but they can thanks to our writing as We are helping them to understand what’s going on at the world at present without reading like a pretentious broadsheet article or being patronised with a five page Illustrated book meant for three year olds.

I hope you’ll join me on my writing again and it won’t be easy and I won’t be as active on here is much, to be a writer you must write… You have to make sacrifices so we can fit around your daily life and then you’re doing it subconsciously too.

I’ll pop in when I can. Probably when my mum hides my laptop and makes me take a rest so my ME doesn’t flareup as much.

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Music Monday

  • Two doors down by Dolly Parton
  • Sucker by The Jonas Brothers.
  • Sorry not sorry by Demi Lovato
  • Razzmattaz by John Travolta
  • My funny Valentine by Michael Buble
  • Better get to livin’ by Dolly Parton
  • Dance with Somebody by Whitney Huston
  • Fly with Me by The Jonas Brothers
  • Love me and let me go by Ashley Tisdale.
  • All shook up by Elvis Presley
  • You and I by Dolly Parton
  • Dumb blonde by Avril Lavigne
  • Warrior by Avril Lavigne
  • I like it like that By Cardi B
  • Love wins by Carrie Underwood
  • Beautiful by Bethany Dillon

Non fiction: Travolta Fever!

Fever

A brief look at the early career of John Travolta and how my seven year Love affair began.

Word count: 1519

By Rachel Jeffery

Before we delve into Travolta’s early career I would like to offer a little context as to why this is my chosen subject. I was thirteen when I discovered Travolta in the 2007 reboot of Hairspray where he played Tracy Turnblads mother Edna and I was simply transfixed, here was an actor who played a woman with deep sensitivity and realism (As the film deals with body image and racism) whilst being comical at the same time. It was like an itch, I simply needed to know everything about this actor. You may ask why and I’ll be honest it was at the time where my relationship with my biological father was at its lowest ebb and my step father was more like a big brother. Of course, I loved Grease and Saturday Night Fever in which he is most known for, but what about his early career and rise to fame? Surely that should be celebrated too? After all it is the early life experiences that shape an actor and where he can use them for his emotional advantage in whatever role.

Well, that’s where this is where my article comes in. I know it is an unusual practice in articles analysing an actors early life and career but I cannot help but add my own personal opinions in the parenthesis below. I also cannot help but add an open note to my beloved hero in case he may read this. (Sue me, I don’t care if it’s not non fiction writing etiquette I just have to much love and passion to pour out onto the page.)

John Joseph was born on February 18th 1954 to Salvatore Travolta, an ex footballer and tyre salesman and his mother Helen, an actress and drama teacher. He is the youngest of his six siblings and despite being type cast as an Italian American he is actually Irish. Before he found he found Scientology during filming his small part in Devils Rain, 1975, was raised as a Catholic. Living over an airfield in New Jersey it’s no wonder his passion for aviation was ignited. In fact, in an interview Travolta said ‘I was nine when I first flew, it was a birthday gift. What I didn’t know was that the plane had a bathroom and so I wet myself.’ (Don’t worry, even I’ve held my pee on a six hour flight to New York I’m sure the majority of readers can relate.) He would later become a qualified pilot and representative for Quantas airlines. (My own father was a flight attendant so I can see the lure of travel.)

Travolta also was very dramatic as a child; ‘As the youngest I got away with a lot. If I thought something was unfair, I’d run away for a half hour to the end of the block. I would tiptoe back in and my dad would be singing ‘where has Johnny gone?’ and he’d open his arms to me and say ‘Johnny!’ It was a regular thing so my parents weren’t fazed’. (As the youngest, I too can relate to this and also because of my Disability I got away with what only can be describe as blue murder)

In his teenager years, he dropped out of high school to pursue acting in his mother’s professional productions. (The experience of being what he described as an ‘average’ student at school would later provide inspiration for his Welcome Back Kotter character in what can only be described nowadays as the ‘special education’ unit for likely drop outs and the dimmest bulbs in the light bulb section at B and Q) Later on to earn his equity card, he starred in many commercials for various things like trousers, deodorant and even motorbikes! Later on he starred infomercials for the US He then landed his first professional stage show as Roger in Grease but as he was underage at 17 he had to tour chaperoned by his sisters. He also starred in the stage musical ‘Over here!’

Was the young actor destined to play one of the most iconic roles in cinematic history as Danny Zuko in the smash hit Grease in 1978 and steal our hearts? He then moved to Los Angeles and had small television roles such as fall victim in Emergency (The only connection I have with this is that I’m a regular visitor to my own accident and emergency department.)

But before that he found his big break in the 1975 Gabe Caplin sitcom Welcome Back Kotter as Vinnie Barbarino, the loveable, slick but dim witted teen crush. (Travolta’s comedy was something I tried to emulate in my own plays/writing later on. In fact I was so obsessed with Grease I began writing fan fiction which later developed into its own romantic novella with characters of my own imagination) His fame sky rocketed over night – he even had a doll modelled after his character Vinnie and was on various other Welcome back Kotter merchandise. (Which I bid £200 on but was grossly outbid.) But sadly, all good things must come to end. Due to Travolta being in demand he left the show and procured roles in films such as Devils Rain as Danny after that he was cast as Billy the bully in an adaption of Stephen Kings Carrie, 1976. (Bad guy John Travolta is my favourite, as well as endearing John in films like Look Who’s Talking, 1987)

Travolta then had a hit single at no. 10 with let her in and then later on his debut album. Travolta has credited these songs as to why he won the converted role as Danny Zuko which Henry Wrinkler ‘The Fons’ turned down. (Thank the lord because Travolta and Newton John of one of pop cultures most iconic duos and if the role had gone to someone else I firmly believe that the movie would not become as much as beloved classic) : ‘it’s because of those of records that the Grease producers knew I could sing’. (As I write, I am listening to both albums as we speak to help gain inspiration.) But before Grease he gained attention notice for his lead role as Todd, a boy born with no immune system in The boy in the plastic bubble where he had his first serious relationship with Diana Hyland who played his on screen mother in the film. She sadly past away of breast cancer, Travolta would use his grief as his driving force to succeed and use the experience in later films such as Face off in 1996 (my favourite of his 90’s resurgence) But, let’s get back to the matter at hand, The film where Travolta played his first serious lead role was awarded four Emmys and even starred Kelly Ward who Travolta would reunite with when they both filmed Grease. (Like I wrote earlier, Grease was destined to be in Travolta’s life one way or another.)

Then of course, came Grease and Saturday night fever where he was honoured to be the youngest academy award nominee that year at 24. He recalls his mother turning to him and saying ‘I hope you don’t win, because then you’ll have something to look forward too.’ This is a dedication to one of the worlds most iconic actors, who went from small television cameos, to the king of comedy and then triple threat to a dramatic actor. Who have we got to thank for Travolta’s rise to fame? His own tenacity in a fickle world of show business and its because of this and his experiences early on in life that he has become one of the worlds greatest actors.

Unlike actors of my own generation Travolta did not rely on nepotism to get his foot in the door and neither did he have the benefit of a social media following, it was all pure hustling and dedication to his craft and learning from others around him and his own life experiences that would propel (pardon the aviation humour) to the top.

So, to end I shall say thank you to John who in 2007 ambled into my life and turned it upside down. Since then I have written you many letters and collected all your films. I even gave my own mother the silent treatment in 2014 when she couldn’t take me to see you at Durery Lane theatre and got my auntie to pay a ridiculous price for the first season of WBK. I hope one day that we may meet in person and I can say thank to you in person for not only your films but the warm feeling I get when I see you on tv or Instagram. If anyone mentions you my back is immediately up and if they paint you in anything less than angelic light I instantly come to your defence.

Yes, it is true there is something called Travolta Fever and it gives me chills and with each interview or movie release they multiply.

Stage school: Fiction

Ethel 1937, Great Rapids Minnesota

The sun streaked through the thin gingham curtains in Ethel Gumm’s Room. Today was the day. Ethel looked silently as the clock ticked away as she was laying in bed it was five to six on a dreary November morning, the postman would be here any second. Ethel crept silently out of the wrought iron single bed she shared with her sister and replaced a big lumpy pillow under the covers hoping if anybody saw they’d think she was still sleeping.

Ethel had the foresight to slip her day dress under her nightgown the previous night. She quickly slipped it off and tiptoed out of the threadbare room in her socks.

Ethel’s stomach was full of butterflies. She had to suppress a giggle as she shuffled past her parents’ room. she peeked in and saw the tired lines on his father’s face acquired through a life of hard work providing for the family, barely keeping them treading water. She was going to Drama school! She was going to be an actress, the next Scarlett O Hara!

Just as she reached the front door the doubts settled in. What if she hadn’t got in? She was going to stay here forever! This made Ethel stop for a moment. Was it worth opening the letter if all she was going to face was an aa disappointment? Ethel gritted her teeth and bunched her fists as if she was trying to push those thoughts away. She’d come this far; saving up what little money she earned as a waitress at a diner for trips to New York for the school auditions, headshots etc. It took her ages to convince her mother and father to let her go. Whilst her mother didn’t want to see others talents to languish and having dreamed on being on stage herself, she just didn’t like the fact that her fifteen-year-old daughter would be alone in such a big city.

Ethel was quick to sort out this issue, her best friend’s sister worked as a telephonist in midtown and had agreed to look out for Ethel when she was attending. Naomi, her best friend’s sister had even gone as far as travelling to Minnesota to speak to the Gumm’s and reassure them. For Ethel, it was a shame that her best friend Alicia couldn’t join her on her adventure as she was expecting a baby in eight months time after a carnie had her way with her at the harvest fair in the middle of October. Alicia was easily wooed by a man’s promise of ‘love’ due to living a sheltered life with little romantic experience. As far as Ethel knew Alicia hadn’t told her folks yet. Ethel had found her that night crying behind the heater skelter, drunk and dishevelled. Luckily Ethel got her cleaned up in a rickety bathroom stall before helping her friend home with the excuse that ‘time’ had come and she needed to lie down with a hot water bottle. Ethel felt guilty as she trudged home, she shouldn’t have left alcid like that all becomes Jimmy Craig wanted to kiss her. That night she went to bed as her sisters were still talking animatedly about the fair and munching the rare treat of Caramel Apples. Ethel said nothing, the burden of the secret became very heavy and she wasn’t one not to share a problem with her sisters.

The girls agonised over the situation; getting rid of it was illegal and not to mention dangerous, Alicia couldn’t bear the thought of adoption. They’d reasoned she’d have to marry him quickly before the baby came or face the wrath of her devout Christian folks. The trouble was tracking the Carnie down. Some only stayed for a day or even a weeks time and they never said where they were going next.

It was Alicia that urged Ethel to apply without her. “Go now whilst you have a chance or risk ending up like me Eth.” Judy longed for a thing to be different and they’d go together but, you could not turn back the clock or predict the future, you have to live now. It wasn’t like her to abandon a friend in need nor embark on this unstable future but if Ethel wanted her life to change she had to do this. She’d already decided that once she’d made it that she’d rescue her family and Alicia from the breadline and they’d live comfortably in Los Angeles. When she told Alicia this she giggled, “Oh Eth you are funny! don’t worry ’bout me, I’ll get through. Just remember any free clothes I’m I size 5 in dresses and 4 in shoes… maybe a nice little white picket fence house too.” Ethel smiled warmly at the memory remembering nights where they’d lay on the bedroom floor and pretend to be the stars in ‘Picturegoer’. Now Ethel had a chance to be one and it all rode on this envelope. She took strength knowing how her family had rallied around to help with the fees. Her mother took in mending, pawned her wedding ring. Her little sister had donated her fifty dollar savings, Ethel worked like hell at the diner whilst her eldest sister cleaned people’s homes. As time crawled on they didn’t think they’d raised enough until her father came home one night and said he’d got a loan from his boss. “Dream on baby girl… I know you can do it.” When she’d kissed him that night she realised his cheeks were wet with pride. Her father works crazy hours at the quarry and now Ethel realised how much they’d all sacrificed for her.

Ethel was startled out of her thought’s by the juddering of the mailman’s van outside. Taking a deep breath she opened the door with her shaking hand and flew down the porch steps to await the delivery of her future all wrapped up in thick cream paper, typewriter ink and a thick envelope.

She greeted the mailman a little too enthusiastically for the hour and stood eagerly awaiting her precious mail like a puppy waiting for a treat from his master.

The mailman handed her three envelopes and tipped his hat climbing back into his truck for his next stop.

Ethel waited for him to leave before sifting through the mail until she found what she was looking for. Without caring who saw she sat down on her front yard by the mailbox legs crossed. She was careful when opening the envelope, preserving its elegance and all it stood for. Her deep brown eyes scanned the contents, she held her breath as she read the last few lines.

*

Irvin Walter’s was a bit taken aback for the excitable girl at this hour. She reminded him of a bouncing Labrador. He should have been used to her by now for she’d been out every day for the past week. Just as he reached the end of the street he heard a noise that made him jump. He recognised it as a cry of joy. He looked in his wing mirror to see the excitable girl jumping up and down, twirling and lastly kiss the letter.

It didn’t take a genius to work out that this was good news, he grinned to himself as he drove onwards to his next neighbourhood. “it looks I’ve made someone’s day.” He said allowed to himself. Looking in his mirror again he gave a small laugh at the girl’s celebratory dance before carrying on. He started to hum a tune to himself, drumming his fingers on the dashboard whilst the sun continued to bath Minnesota in a ray of glorious sunshine.

My five favourite celebrities and why

In no particular order…

  • John Travolta – okay so, I fell in love with John Travolta when he played Edna Turnblad in my favourite musical, Hairspray. Since then I’m a die hard fan and I’ll tell you why I was thirteen and my relationship with my dad was in a bad place and my stepfather is like a big brother. So after watching Look Who’s talking he’s taken on my ‘ideal dad’ role. Plus he’s a pilot and that’s fucking awesome. I have the majority of his movies and tv show both on DVD and digital. Favourite movie? It has to be Face/Off, that movie is so underrated. Craziest things I’ve done? Bid £100 for one of the suits he wore in face/off and I’ve written to him and didn’t speak to my mum for a week after she couldn’t take me to Drury Lane Theater when he was doing a candid interview on his sixtieth birthday. Oh! I also have ‘borrowed’ my Auntie’s Grease DVD and asked her to order me Welcome Back Kotter Season one from Canada for Christmas. Cannot wait to see Gotti! John, if you’re reading this, thanks for being there when I need cheering up and being such a huge influence in my life!
  • Demi Lovato – I have officially have been a Lovatic since 2013. Demi helped me realised that I liked women and men. Her vocals are the best this generation has. She’s so refreshingly honest and candid about her journey. My fave album is definitely ‘Tell me you love me’ it’s off the charts. But, her song would have to be ‘Warrior’ just because of the message. Lovato is overalls sexy badass and it’s a privilege to have her music flowing through my earphones. FACT: confidence was my morning alarm all the way through my A levels… cannot wait for! D7 Sorry Not Sorry😉
  • Kelly Preston – Um have you seen the She will be loved music video?! Also, love that she’s so charitable and just a cutie… I especially love her movie Mischief and for those who haven’t watched it, WATCH IT and those that have to know what I’m talking about – it’s s very perky movie.
  • Zac Efron – My first crush. I’ve loved him since 2004 and have loved watching him blossom as a person and actor. My favourite movie? Me and The Orson Wells. Whilst my future husband is a comedy king I’d love him to do more dramatic pieces where his acting shines. I mean, have you seen Parkland, At any Price and Liberal Arts and CSC, Cannot wait for the Ted Bundy movie!! BTW I play rewrite the stars before bed and imagine that I’m Zendaya… ❤️ Love that he’s so adventurous, an animal lover, a sex god and that he too has been open about his struggles with fame.
  • Michael Bublé – I was thirteen when I discovered Bublé through an iTunes free gift. The Hollywood album is definitely my fave. I love when he swears in interviews it’s just so sexy as well as having a voice like melted caramel. So glad Noah has kicked cancer’s ass, he’s a superhero. I love that Michael puts his family first and has stayed so grounded. Is it nice that he’s making a new record?! Hell yes! But he’s very much a family man but family happiness comes first. Mike, if you’re reading this congrats on your baby girl! FACT: I enjoy my Bublé with a crisp white wine and silk PJs.

If any of you lovely people on this list are reading this, THANK YOU ☺️

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Rachel

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