The Third Draft Continued

It’s Monday again, which means I’m back to going through my latest draft of Blindsighted.

Last week, I decided to change the style from third-person to first-person and as much work as that’s created for me, I feel it was the best decision.

It now feels a little more personal, and for the story, I’m telling, first-person works so much better than I third. I’m hoping that it will allow the readers to get a little closer to the main character and feel what he’s going through.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, writing in this style is a first for me. I usually follow several characters, but for Blindsighted, I’m only following the one. The MC is called Nathan, and he’s an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his mother. The story follows him as he and his mum move into a new house, and he starts to have strange experiences. I don’t want to go into the story too much as I’m yet to write and reveal the blurb. I’m hoping that once this draft is finished, I can spend some time writing it, and then I’ll give you more of an overview of what the story is about.

As it stands, I’ve got just under 100 pages to edit, and I’m going to try, this week, to get this draft finished. Of course, whenever I say things like this, there’s always something that will come up. We’ve already got someone coming in to fix the bath today and a new bed being delivered on Wednesday, but I’m hoping that I can work my way through the remainder of the draft even with these distractions.

I hope that your work has started well and continues on the same path.

Have a good week.

Moving House: A Stressful Time

Moving house has often been said to be one of the most stressful things that a person can do in their lifetime. But, when most days are stressful due to a mental health condition, moving house because even more challenging and can almost break you.

Alex and I have been going through the process of buying a new build property for the past several months – yes, we decided to make a stressful thing even worse by doing it during a pandemic. But we were at the point where we were getting fed up with pissing our money up the wall while renting.

The moving itself isn’t the thing that we find stressful it’s everything else that comes with it. It’s the solicitors and mortgage brokers that just seem to make everything that little bit more complicated. I swear they use words that even they don’t understand just to be difficult. It’s tough to deal with these things, but when you’re having a day where you’re fighting against your brain just to get through the day in one piece, receiving emails and phone calls from people saying things you don’t understand only compounds the issues and make you question whether it’s all worth it.

Thankfully, we’re coming to the end of the nonsense now. We have exchanged contracts on our new build home, and we’re now just waiting for the interior to be finished. We’re hoping to be in there in the next couple of months, and honestly, we can’t wait.

I’ve rented since I moved out at 23, and I thought that always would. The house that we’re currently in is the first house I’ve rented, the other rentals were flats, and despite renting this house, it’s the first place I’ve truly felt at home, and I think that feeling will only intensify when we moved into a house that we actually own.

I’d be lying if I said that having a mortgage over us wasn’t a scary prospect. It puts an extra layer of pressure on our already fragile minds, but it’s something we want to do, so we’re focusing on getting in there and all the things we can do when we move in.

With the rental we’re in, we’ve not really been able to do a lot of personalising because when we decide to leave, we have to return it to pretty much the state it was when we moved in. This has meant not being able to put shelves up and instead having bulky bookcases in rooms where we might not have done, having a garden that we can’t do anything with. When we move, we plan to grow a lot of things in it and even have a greenhouse. Not being able to plant anything in our current garden has limited us as to what we can grow in pots. I never thought I’d be bothered about a garden, but recently I’ve started to really look forward to growing all sorts of fruit and veg so we can be a little bit more self sustained.

To keep ourselves busy and our minds off the interminable wait, we’ve been going through all of our stuff and either packing up what we won’t need until we move or just outright getting rid of things. It’s incredible how stuff builds up. When we were moving into our current house, we got rid of a load of stuff from the flat, but over time things just build up again…mainly mugs, for some reason.

The other thing we’ve been doing is planning how our rooms are going to be; I’ve especially been thinking about this because I want to be able to set up my games room and all my consoles – retro and new – in a space similar to how I had it here. I’ve got them all packed away at the minute, but I can’t wait to get them out and use them again. 

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. In some ways, this is good because we know we’ll be in there soon. But there’s also that impatient part of our heads that wants to be in there now. We’re just lucky that the pandemic hasn’t caused any real delays in the building of our new home. We’ve been keeping everything crossed that everything goes according to plan. We’ve even been driving by every couple of weeks to do our own little drive-by check on the construction progress. It’s just a shame that now that it’s the interior being done, and we can’t really see how it’s going, but we do get regular calls from the developer to update us, so at least that’s something.

IMG-20210305-WA0000

I look forward to sharing some images of our new home when we move in. I’m sure many projects will spawn and I will probably end up telling you about them here. So stay tuned.

A Link to the Past

This morning I started playing the Final Fantasy VII remake, and it got me thinking about how much time I put into the original when it first came out. I also started to think about other games that I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing, games like Skyrim or Sim City. But the game that I think I’ve played the most is probably my favourite game; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

I can’t remember when I first played it, but I was only young when it was released back in 1991, and we probably bought it not long after.

The SNES was one of the first consoles that we had after the original NES, and I spent hours playing the likes of Super Mario and Street Fighter II. Although I wasn’t very good at either, I still put the time into learning how to play.

When A Link to the Past came around, I’d never played a game like it before. It was one of the first open-world games that I played, and I was hooked straight away.

I can’t pinpoint exactly why I got so into it. I just remember loving the graphics, the combat and -later in the game – teleporting to a different world, I also loved the fact that it game with a game map – a map that I blue-tacked to my wall and that hung there for years. I would spend hours in Hyrule slashing my way through enemies and bosses. It took me quite some time to finally finish it, and I didn’t give up until I did. But that wasn’t the end of it.

With ALTTP, there aren’t the same story choices as you get in games these days. It was pretty linear despite being open world, and if you finished it once – other than going back and getting the upgraded gear – there really wasn’t anything else to do. But after I finish and put it down, moving on to something else, I still wanted to go back and replay it.

We got rid of the SNES – for some reason, I can’t fathom – many years ago. And when I bought another one when I started to gather my collection of retro consoles, ALTTP was one of the first games that I had to get, and when I played it, I felt the same joy that I did when I was younger – although this time it took me a fraction of the time to finish it.

I said at the start, this is the game I’ve probably put the most time into, and all that time culminates into probably finished the game around 25-30 times, and yet I’m still not bored of it.

When A Link Between Worlds came out on the 3DS, and I saw that it incorporated ALTTP into a new game, I couldn’t help but buy it. This too, I’ve finished a few times, although not as many as ALTTP.

When I bought the mini SNES when it came out, ALTTP was the first game I played. I honestly can’t play this game enough.

A Link to the Past will always have a place in my heart and mind. When I’m feeling less than great, it’s a game that I can always come back to. I don’t have to think about it all that much, but it gives my mind something to focus on when I can’t concentrate on anything else.

Although I’ve played the other Legend of Zelda games, none have stuck with me as much as ALTTP and – as much as I’ve enjoyed playing them – I don’t think any of them will.

Do you have a game like this? A game that you can keep going back to over and over? One that holds a special place in your heart for whatever reason? Let me know.

Changing Perspectives

So, over the weekend, I had a thought…

I’m currently going through draft number three of Blindsighted, and over the weekend, I had an idea for something that would perhaps make the story work a little better. This idea means that I not only have to edit the story but also to change it from reading from a third-person perspective to a first-person one.

I don’t know where this thought came from, but it’s something that I can’t get out of my head now, so I have to at least give it a go.

Writing from a first-person view is something that I’ve, so far, not done. My two released books have both been third-person and have followed the style of having each chapter about rotating characters.

For example;
Chapter 1 > Character 1
Chapter 2 > Character 2
Chapter 3 > Character 3
Chapter 4 > Character 1
Chapter 5 > Character 2
Chapter 6 > Character 3
And so on…

So writing from a first-person is going to be a new challenge for me. But, as Blindsighted follows a single character with everything being seen from his view, it makes sense that this one is done in this style.

I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but I’m more than willing to give it a go if it’s going to make the story better. Of course, this may mean that my release date is pushed back a little way, but I don’t want to send it out there if I’m not completely happy with it.

Keep everything crossed for me that this turns out okay.

I’ll also try this week to finally get my description/synopsis/blurb done. I’ve written a few different versions but I’m not overly happy with any of them so far. Maybe if the change of perspective works out, it’ll help me with this too.

For now, I’m going to throw myself into this challenge I’ve set for myself.

No One is Going to Steal My Sweetroll (Recipe)

Skyrim. Is there any place where I have spent more time slaying dragons, raiding towns and trying to find a woman named Lydia?

It’s a huge game with a lot going for it even a decade after its release. in this blog I’ll be showing you how to make one of the most well-known deserts in the land; a sweetroll. You will no longer have to cry because someone stole yours, because now you can make your very own.

This is what they look like in-game;

Appetising eh? Scroll to the bottom to see how ours turned out. If you don’t want the spoiler then just keep on reading.

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 50g raspberry jam
  • 2tbsp Chambord liqueur (optional)

For the Glace icing:

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 15ml milk of your choice
  • Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Method:

  • STEP 1 – Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan. Grease your bundt tin until fully coated and set aside. Combine the butter and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until creamed.

*Note*If you’re using the Chambord; add this to the mixture now. If you don’t want to use the liqueur then you can add the equivalent amount of extract of your choice in it’s place.

  • STEP 2 – Crack the eggs into a smaller mixing bowl or jug and beat until combined. Beat a third of the eggs into the cake mixture until combined. Then add around a third of the flour; folding it into the mixture rather than beating. This will retain the cake’s ability to rise so mix carefully! Continue alternating between eggs and flour until all have been combined.
  • STEP 3 – Place have of the mixture into the bundt tin and smooth it out. Once this is done, place the jam into a bowl and mix it until there are no big lumps of jam remaining. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it easier for the next step.
  • STEP 4 – Dot the jam around the bundt tin, almost so that it forms a ring on top of the smoothed mixture. Once all the jam has been added you can go ahead and pour the remaining mixture into the bundt tin on top.
  • STEP 5 – Smooth the mixture out again and then place in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted close to the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool before turning out of the tin.
  • STEP 6 – While waiting, enjoy a brew.
  • STEP 7 – Once the cake is freed from the tin you can ice it; combine the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract (if using) into a bowl and mix until completely smooth. If your mixture isn’t runny then add a splash more milk; if it’s too runny and very thin then add some more icing sugar.
  • STEP 8 – Once you’ve made your icing then go ahead and spoon it over the top of your cake, adding “drips” in various places to recreate the Skyrim Sweet Roll look. Once you’ve done this leave the icing to set so that it doesn’t go everywhere when you cut into it.
  • STEP 9 – Enjoy!

So that’s how to make your very own sweetroll. Ours didn’t last very long as it tasted amazing. I hope yours turn out just as good. If you do have a go, let me know how it turned out and maybe send me some pictures.

We did this when my brain wasn’t letting me write and the process of baking did calm my chattering mind. Not enough to allow me to write, but it did help. I hope it helps you too.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood (Review)

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is an action role-playing game that was released on 4th February 2021. It’s based on a table-top game and is part of a larger series called World of Darkness.

The story follows main character Cahal, an eco-terrorist werewolf (because, why not?) as he’s kicked out of his pack and now spends his time wandering the American Northwest and fighting against a nefarious corporation that is polluting the planet…yeah…

You have the ability to shapeshift between human and wolf at any given moment, to perform different actions such as conversations, combat and exploration.

So that’s what it’s about. But what’s it like?

This was a game that I’d seen trailers for, and it looked amazing, so when I got my hands on a PS5, it was the second game that I played – the first being the free Astro’s Playroom.

The game starts off with an intense cinematic which sets up the character and what he’s fighting against. This got me excited to play because it looked incredible. The cinematic was beautifully shot and rendered, and it really showed what the PS5 could do. But then the game started…

As soon as you’re in control of Cahal, you find out that the graphics on the cutscene were the best it was going to get. To me, it all felt like one of those game trailers that have the disclaimer “Not actual game footage” at the bottom. You start talking to a couple of the characters, and you see that the design looks like something that came out on the PS3. They appeared to be straight out of Morrowind or something similar. In short, it was a huge letdown.

The game throws you in at the deep end with all the random words relating to the Werewolf world, which may make sense to those that have played the table-top game but just goes well over the heads of those that haven’t.

The conversation options are alright, but the dialogue’s delivery just doesn’t hit the mark. The acting feels wooden and all together forced. If you’ve played the likes of the Mass Effect series, this dialogue just doesn’t compare.

When you go on your missions, you have the option to either be stealthy or to kill. There’s no real reason to be stealthy as it’s far easier and quicker just to wolf-out and destroy everything around you. It has no effect on the story whatsoever.

But hey, it can’t be all bad, right?. You get to be a werewolf; surely that’s a good thing? Well…yes and no.

The combat is basically just your werewolf self bouncing around a room and button bashing until enemies are dead. There’s no real skill needed, and as far as I can see, the different skills that you gain throughout the game, don’t really mean a great deal. These werewolf fights involve several different types of enemy, none of which pose much of a threat as their attacks are easy to avoid. At these points, the game gets exceptionally gory, to the point where after a fight, the room is covered in blood. It’s almost like the developers thought, “Hey, I know, the game is a bit sh!t, but if we put a load of blood in, people won’t notice.”

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, aside from having a very long title, feels like a game that should have been released several generations earlier. There’s nothing really new about it, and what it does do, it does poorly. I’m struggling to find any redeeming features other than the extremely well done cutscenes. But unfortunately, that’s just not enough for this game to be enjoyable.

I can’t bring myself to give this game anything higher than ⭐️ out of 5, and I feel awful for giving it this rating, but it just doesn’t cut it. I found the free Astro’s Playroom far more enjoyable, and despite getting the platinum in it, I’m more likely to go back to that than I am Werewolf.

I don’t recommend this game. I’d say just watch some videos online for it or buy it when it’s dirt cheap; it’s just not worth the price…and it’s cheaper than most PS5 games.

Here We Go Again…

As I said in Friday’s post, last week was a bust as far as writing was concerned. I started doing some on Monday but couldn’t focus enough on it for it to be worthwhile. I didn’t want to muddle my way through and mess things up. This week though I’m back on it.

As is sometimes the case when I take some time away from writing, I had new ideas. Not just for my current WIP Blindsighted, but also for new things. I’m not sure I’ll be working on them anytime soon, but it’s good to have some ideas in the bank.

My progress through the second draft of Blindsighted is steady, and I’m just over halfway through it. I’ve been adding things to flesh out the story and going through everything to make sure it makes sense and flows well.

I’m using the same method for this novel as I did for The Next Stage. I’m going to have at least 4 or 5 drafts, with my last being the one with the proof paperback. With TNS I found that this method worked really well, so I’m hoping it does the same for this story.

I still don’t have a firm date that I want to have it done by. As much as I have a goal of having it done in a few months, I don’t really want to set a deadline. I feel if I do, and I don’t meet it, it’ll stress me out unnecessarily. Although I’m treating this as a 9-5 job, I don’t want to add extra pressure. I’m already under enough as it is, what with my hip and moving house soon. Blindsighted will be ready when it’s ready. I’ll keep updating as I go through the drafts so you can see my process.

I’m sat working on the sofa, which hasn’t caused any issues before, but now I have a PS5 staring at me begging me to play it. I had a quick stream of Ghost of Tsushima this morning to help me wake up. I’ve put the controller down now, but it still calls to me.

While I’m in the mood to write I’m going to get back to it. Have a good week all.

An Unexpected Week Away from Writing

I started the week with every intention of getting through the second draft of Blindsighted. Unfortunately, my brain had other ideas.

I generally check my book sales a couple of times a week to see how things are going and if there are a few blank spaces, I’m fine with it, and I just get on with things. But when I checked them on Monday and could see that I hadn’t had any sales for some time it got to me.

When I say “it got to me,” I really mean it. I started to question my reasons for writing and what – if any – the point of it all was. For some reason, my brain focused on the zero sales and decided that sales were the only reason I was doing things and that if I didn’t have any, there was no point.

I have several different reasons why I write other than sales. I enjoy it, for one, and It calms my mind at troubled times, being able to escape to a world of my creation. Sales are just a small thing, really. It’d be nice to have more, but even getting my work out to a single person who enjoys it is worth it.

I think the issue this week stemmed from seeing several people screenshotting their KDP sales and everyone having more than me. I began to question what I was doing wrong and what more I could do to have sales like others.

The Next Stage is a far superior book to my first book, but when I see that Creatures has more overall sales and pages read, I just couldn’t get my head out of thinking I was sh!t and what I was spending my time doing was pointless.

I voiced my thoughts on Twitter, and I’m happy to say that I had several responses telling me it was okay to keep going and that they loved my work. This did a little to spur me on, but I’ve still been unable to write anything.

This week hasn’t been a total waste, though. I got back to my streaming on Twitch with Ghost of Tsushima, which I’m really enjoying. My streams don’t attract a huge audience, but those that do seem to enjoy it and interact with me while I play. This has done my exhausted and warring brain the world of good, and it’s showed me that I can do things and what I’m doing is worthwhile.

I’m going to chalk this week up to being “one of those weeks” and leave writing until next week. Of course, the other reason for this is that we managed to grab a PS5 which should be delivered today, so I’ll be spending my time on that, relaxing and getting my brain to calm.

I’m still aiming to get Blindsighted out in the next couple of months, but I’m not going to push it. If I do it, I do it, but my brain is stressed enough at the minute without adding extra pressure.

For now, though, I bid you a good weekend.

Erica – Live Action Gameplaying (Review)

Erica is an FMV (Full Motion Video) interactive game release on the PS4 in August 2019.

The game follows titular character, Erica, as she battles nightmares from her childhood and tries to unravel the truth about her families mysterious occult past as she’s taken to a strange hospital that her father founded. You control Erica via multiple-choice dialogue options and interactive elements in the scenes.

Erica is an interesting game and combines the choice in the story of Telltale-like games with full video and live cast. It’s a good idea in theory and if you just play it through it’s a decent enough game.

Unfortunately, though, there several issues that I feel could have been worked on a little more.

First off, continuity. There are so many continuity errors in this game; it’s unbelievable. Some can be forgiven, but the sheer number of them just can’t be. They range from blood appearing, disappearing and reappearing between scenes, to clothes changing without any time for them too.

Second, the acting. Now I’m all for a bad movie with poor acting. But some of the acting in Erica is just so bad it’s not even funny. I don’t know whether it’s just how the scenes are put together with the choices but a lot of the time they only don’t match up properly. The actors may well be better in other things, but there’s just something wrong in this game.

The game can either be controlled via the touchpad on the Dualshock controller or with an app that can be downloaded to your phone. This again is a good idea in theory. I found that when using the controller the touchpad was a little too sensitive – there’s no way to adjust this – so trying to hit the mark on screen when needed, at times, is quite tricky. The controls work a little better on the app, and it gives you a greater range for swiping. The problem with using the app is that it doesn’t half drain your phone battery so unless you can play while having it plugged in, you’re a little bit limited with how long you can play for.

If you’re trying to go for the platinum trophy on this game, be prepared to play the game at least 5 times – and that’s if you follow a guide. If you’re just winging it – like I did on my first playthrough – you may have to do more than that. It’s a slog and a big one at that. Although if you’re committed, you can probably get it in a day.

All in all, Erica is a reasonably enjoyable game despite its faults. But unfortunately, once you notice things like the continuity issues does mar your playing experience. It could have been so much better, but for what it is, it’s not bad. I hope there are more games like this to come – as long as they’re produced a little better. For me, the game deserves a high rating for what it’s trying to achieve, but it does fall a bit flat, so I just can’t bring myself to give it higher than ⭐⭐⭐.

When Can You Call Yourself an Author?

This is a question that bounced around my head for a while. Before I talk about how I felt and when I decided to use the word author, I asked the writing community of Twitter what their thoughts were;

This question was something that prayed on my mind quite a bit when I started writing especially after released Creatures.

Although having written and (self) published a book, I still didn’t feel like I could call myself a bona fide author. Maybe it was the self-deprecating part of my brain, but I didn’t think I was good enough to be able to use that word.

Something in my brain associated the word “author” with the likes of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, James Patterson, Steven King, Michael Crichton; the authors of books that I grew up reading and I think I was comparing my work to theirs and, honestly, it just didn’t stack up.

In May of 2020, I was struggling with my mental health to the extent that made the difficult decision to quit my day job of working in IT. With this done, I had time to focus on my mental health, and I felt like a big part of my healing was being able to write, and although I was now doing this full-time, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough.

Having these thoughts is difficult to describe, and I’m doing my best to get my thoughts and feelings down here. I suppose a part of my struggle was that I had imposter syndrome. In case you don’t know what this is; it’s a psychological pattern where an individual doubts their skills, accomplishments and talents and you have this fear that one day you’ll be discovered as a fraud. Even though I had written and published a book, I still didn’t have enough confidence in my skills to say that I was good at this and I would be able to write anything else, that Creatures was a one-off. However, then came The Next Stage.

It took me around two years to finish and get The Next Stage published. I think a big reason for this was me delaying it because I still didn’t think it was good enough. It was only when I got to the point where I couldn’t do anything further with it that I eventually released it. When writing it, I knew that this book was superior to Creatures, but there was still that part of me that couldn’t believe I had written it.

Before publishing, the only people to read it were myself and Alex. When she read it, she said it was amazing – so much so that she read it in around four hours because she couldn’t put it down. But there was still that niggly feeling in the back of my brain that it wasn’t all that good and the only way I would truly find out is getting it out so that others could read it.

Once The Next Stage was released, and I saw the reception it was getting – being likened to the Alex Cross books and Blade Runner – it was as if a switch had clicked in my head, one that went from “I’m not good enough to be doing this” to “This is what I should be doing because I’m good at it.” Overnight I was able to call myself an author. Don’t get me wrong, the imposter syndrome still creeps in occasionally – usually when I’m hitting a depressive episode, but for the most part, it’s gone.

As I stated earlier in the post, this is just my journey through this period, and others experience other things and ways they define it. If you feel like you can call yourself a writer/author, then you do it, don’t let anyone stop you from defining your work.