A New Way of Writing (For Me)

Before I start this blog post properly, I just want to say that the presentation that I was anxious about doing last week went really well. I wasn’t as anxious about it as I expected, and when it came time to perform it in front of the rest of the class, I lost any anxiety that I did have. I felt like my delivery was clear, and I even managed to make some eye contact with the group without simply just reading from the script, which for me, is an accomplishment. I’m really happy with how my group did, and even the lecturer said how we met and exceeded her expectations of us after she put us last because “we would be the best”.

Anyway, enough of that, I’m now working on my second assignment, which is the first essay that I’ll have to produce. For the essay, we have to review 10 different texts and present their arguments in a logical way. We had a few different ones to choose from (we could also pick our own), and I chose to go with “Review the arguments about diversity in Star Trek”. I like Star Trek, but I’m not a Trekkie. I’m also aware of some of the diversity that it has been involved with, so it seemed – as Spock would say – the logical choice.

First of all, finding 10 different texts on the subject was harder than it sounded. I kept coming up with the same articles or publications, which was just infuriating. But I did, nevertheless, find them.

The next task (which I’ve just finished) was to read, annotate and make notes on said texts. I’ve not done any annotating since I was at college *cough* 18 years ago, aside from the bits and pieces that I’ve done for the course already, and of course what I’ve done when going over drafts of my own work, although annotating in an academic way is so far removed from that, it doesn’t deserve comparison. Overall I’ve found this stage fairly easy, though. I find that I’m pretty good at pulling out useful information from a given text, so that’s really come in handy when I’ve been highlighting bits and pieces.

Now I’ve done that; I have to see how they all relate to one another. Which ones agree or disagree with each other, what they’re all trying to say, and see which points I want to talk about and expand upon in my essay. This (I hope) will be relatively easy, but I’m comparing it to the next step; writing the damn essay.

From what I’ve learned so far in my foundation year, writing academically is extremely different to the way that I’m used to writing, and that, at the moment, is tripping me up and making me second guess my abilities. I’m used to just writing whatever pops into my head, with no real thought for structure (until going through drafts) or word count. This obviously has to change with academic writing. I’ve got to get my point across in a simple way possible, within the word count, while making it all make sense. It’s going to test my abilities as a writer and probably make me question the way that I’ll write in the future. I’ve already picked up a few different tips that will transfer over to my novel writing.

I have until December 10th to write my essay on the diversity in Star Trek, so I have a little time, but still not much. I’ll have to get cracking, but at the same time, I don’t want to rush it. It’s going to have to be a balance as I want to be able to do other things too.

We’ve really been thrown in at the deep end with this assignment, and I just hope I can swim.

University Presentation Day

I’ve been at university for a good few weeks now, and we’re just starting to get going with things. So much so that today I’m about to do a presentation in one of my lectures, which will be my very first uni assignment.

For the assignment, we were given the choice of different articles that talk about a certain topic, and in a group, we had to figure out if we agree/disagree, find evidence to support our conclusion and then present our findings to the rest of the class. We started giving our presentations last week, but luckily, my group was chosen to go last, because, and I quote, “it will be the best one”; no pressure there.

Our chosen article was titled “Is Poetry Dead”. For some, this may have been an easy answer. Those that write poetry would have straight away said that it wasn’t. My group thought this too, but academically we had to support our argument. This is what we found challenging. But we worked together to figure it out and find our own evidence before we put it all together.

I gave myself the job of writing our script for the presentation, which I thought I would find difficult, but I found it easy and a little bit enjoyable. It’s our first assignment, and I found that enjoying it and finding it easy made me really think that I can do this university thing.

There have been a few times over the past few weeks that my head hasn’t been right, and I’ve just been thinking that I’ve made a mistake and I shouldn’t be trying to do a degree, but now I feel like I should be.

I’m a little nervous about giving the presentation today, but nowhere near as much as I would have ordinarily been before. I think feeling better about things and knowing that if all else fails, I can just read from the script has made it all seem a little easier. I don’t know how I’ll be when I actually have to give it, but I’m trying to stay positive about it. I still have a little bit of anxiety in my head, but I’m trying to push it to the back

I have a couple of other assignments that I have to work on now too, but I’m trying to break the back of them as early as I can so that I’m not worried about them at the last minute; otherwise, my brain may implode.

Reading this blog back, I can see that it’s a little bit all over the place, which probably shows where my head is right now. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Have a good week, and wish me luck!

Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story (Part II)

This is the continuation of my Twitter story written through the daily VSS365 word prompts. You can read Part I here. Follow me on Twitter @GaxTZ to catch up each day.


I climb up into the graveyard but have to prompt John to follow. From the way he is acting, I’m starting to think he’s regretting his decision to follow me.
We dart in and out of the memorials, trying to remain hidden against the vast waves of death.
The graves remind me that in year’s past, the dead had fallen like leaves in autumn. I know that I have to put a stop to it. No more shufflers will die at the hands of the overworlders. I set my sights on the goal before me and move forward.
As we push towards another wall, thought float around my head like seeds blown off a dandelion. At the bottom of the sheer stone, we look up towards the carpets.
“How are we getting up there?” John asks.
I answer with a sly smile.
I raise my cane and point it at the wall and concentrate on where I’m aiming. After muttering a few choice words, a green beam shoots from the tip of the cane. I stagger back with the force. After a flash of green light, thick vines grow up the wall and over the top.
After the noise of the growing plants, all falls silent. It’s only shattered by the caw of a blackbird flying high above.
It’s time to climb. I strap my cane to my back, grab a handful of the vine and pull myself up. John is only a little way behind me.
Halfway up the wall, I see a small gap from which a sliver of light is escaping. I pause to look through and can see multiple shadows moving inside. A voice shouts something. For fear that we are found out, I quickly continue up the vines.
At the top of the vines, we hoist ourselves over the crenelations and onto the walkway. Beneath us, the woods are alive with movement. Tiny lights zigzag through the trees. Searching. Crouching, we make our way along the battlements towards a tower.
We hear footsteps coming from the doorway. With no time to hide, we stand our ground. Out of the darkness comes a soldier with a nose like a heron’s beak. He looks at us in disbelief, but before he can make his move, a cold blast of air shoots from my cane.
The man stares in disbelief as a tangle of ice wraps around his legs and grows up his torso, eventually covering his face. He stands, frozen in time, as we dart past and inside the tower.
Inside the stone room, we stare in amazement at the countless jars hanging from the walls and ceiling, each one continuing several fireflies. Their light isn’t doing much to light the space, but there’s enough to cast creepy looking shadows.
Suddenly the wooden door across the room explodes into a million pieces. Shrapnels flies in all directions, striking both John and me despite our attempts to dodge. I feel a warm river of blood streaming down from my forehead where something had struck me.
The room is filled with the ebb and flow of myriad sounds. Shouting, screaming, explosions. The noise assaults our ears. I see John on the floor cowering where is was stood only a few seconds ago. The world around us seemingly dissolving.
In the chaos, feeling that this is the end, my mind goes back to the fun that John and I used to have as children. The times we spent beneath the ground, exploring the hundreds of tunnels. They were simpler times. Before the magic. Before the war.
I open my eyes and find myself beneath a shell of rubble like a scrap yard turtle. My ears ring, and the noises around me sound like I’m listening through water. My body aches, and I struggle to push some of the debris off me while attempting to get to my feet.
Through the ringing, I hear the voice of a stranger approaching. They seem to be telling others to search the ruins. I look around me, and my heart almost stops. I can’t see John.
“John?” I try. My voice is hoarse and dry.
I start to dig randomly, calling out his name.
Across the room, my eyes fall on a body being crushed by rubble. I don’t hesitate to dash over to it and start heaving the debris off this person. I think it’s John, but once I uncover the face, I see that it’s a woman and not someone I recognise. Where had she come from?
Lifting the debris off the woman, I help her to her feet. Once upright, she brushes the remaining dust from her robe.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I’ll tell you in time. For now, you just have to trust me.”
I think for a minute.
“I need to find my friend.”
She looks around the destroyed room. When her eyes fall on one of the piles of rubble, she walks over to it, turns to me and smiles. I’m not sure what this is supposed to signify, so I hop over the debris towards her. She waves a hand, and the stones begin to move.
The rubble raises from the ground, moves across the room and then drops with several soft thuds. Johns body is now visible, and I rush over to help him up. With my friend now getting to his feet, I look back at the woman.
“We need to go to the cafe,” she says gleefully.
“What?” John asks with innocence and heavy breaths.
“We can get out through the cafe,” the woman says.
Both John and I must look confused because she clarifies, “This place used to be a museum. The cafe has an exit.”
“Oh,” is all I can maage.bin response.
Now a trio, we leave the destroyed room and head down a narrow corridor. We occasionally stop when we hear footsteps somewhere in the darkness. I feel like this hall should be darker than it is, but the woman seems to radiate light. I can’t explain it.
As we proceed down the intimate space, we hear more and more voices coming from all around us punctuated by explosions. It sounds like hell is breaking loose outside as the war continues, detached from our little group. At the end of the corridor, I see a sign, “Cafe”.
After several more dark hallways, we walk into the old cafe. It’s a shadow of its former self, although some of the tables and chairs are still arranged in rows.
“I’m glad you found us,” I say to the woman when we stop.
“It wasn’t an accident. I was looking for you.”
“What do you mean? How did you know we were here?” I ask.
“Think. Who would betray you?” She says in a calm, measured tone?
Betrayal? It was unthinkable. A shuffler turning against their own.
It’s then I notice John slowly edging away from us.
“John?” I ask in disbelief, “How could you be so treacherous?”
“I-I had no choice,” He stammers.
“Did you help them attack us underground?” I still can’t quite believe what’s happening.
John remains silent, but I can tell by his face what he has to say.
I can’t help but feel hurt by John’s actions. After all, we’ve been through together, for him to do something like this was beyond deceit.
“We need to go,” the woman says, snapping me out of my thoughts.
“How do I know I can trust you?” I ask.
“You don’t.”
I don’t know what to do. If John has turned against me, then who else? Would it be easier to flee back to my hovel? No. I can’t. There have already been too many shuffler deaths. I don’t know who this woman is, but I don’t think I have a choice but to trust her.
Still a trio, we make our way to the back of the old cafe. I don’t spook easily, but something about this room sends shivers up my spine. Perhaps it’s thinking about its use in year’s past before the world fell dark. I shake off the feeling and stay close to the woman.
At the door, she stops and looks back at us. I nod to prompt her to open the large wooden door that’s seen better days. It opens with an almost cliche squeal. We pause, hoping that no one heard the noise.
“Where exactly are we going?” I ask.
“Up,” she says simply.
I’m usually pretty good at judging a person’s inscape, but I can’t get a handle on this woman. First, she seems one thing and then another.
We come to a winding staircase that does indeed lead up. To where I have no idea.
I suddenly remember a dream I had a few days ago, before the attack. It involved a winding staircase, a witch and a knife. Did it foreshadow what was about to happen, or am I reading too much into this situation? Either way, I’m about to find out.
I sleepwalk through the next couple of rooms, not wanting to come back to the room to see my fate, whatever it is.
We soon stop though at another huge door, and I realise that we’re outside in some sort of courtyard.
“The gift shop is through here,” the woman says.
“This is where the death happens.”
“Wow, you could sugarcoat it a little,” I say.
“Why? It does. Changing the way I say it won’t make it any less so.”
She didn’t really need to say it at all. You could smell the scent of death and decay all around.
In the centre of the room is a small pit containing still smoking coals. I ask if it was a campfire. She tells me it’s used in the torture of shuffler. I grimace at the thought of how many we have lost over the years. We pick our way through the room, avoiding bones.
Hanging on one wall are ornate wooden objects hanging by some sort of thread. Each one is as intricate as a snowflake. I ask what they are, and she tells me they are the totems of one of the sects of overworlders. Not people you want to mess with by all accounts.
None of them had their own fingerprint as they saw it as identifying them as individuals; they preferred to be seen as a whole. As legion.
Luckily none of them are nearby; otherwise we would know about it. We skirt through the next few empty rooms.
We’re soon out on a street. The smell of primrose drifts through the air from some nearby laboratory. The overworlders were unlike we shufflers; they preferred science over magic. That was more fool them. Magic, in the right hands, was far more powerful.
From here, the town looks like it’s in retrograde. The buildings look dilapidated and are crumbling from their foundations up. The overworlders, despite wanting to take over, don’t seem to want to look after what they have.
Stalking through the town, hiding in the shadows and avoiding guards, we could be forgiven for thinking that we were winning, that our saga was coming to an end, but this was only the beginning of our fight back.
Soon we come up to another wall, the one that circles the centre of the overworld city. We stop as we see the mechanical sentries that stand dormant in large alcoves cut into the stone. Any sudden movement on our part could awaken them.
Any plans I have for once we’re inside are purely hypothetical right now if we can’t get past these metal beasts. As we tiptoe past, I raise my cane, ready to strike at a moments notice should the worst happen. I look back at John, who has stopped in front of one.
He steps closer and raises a hand like he’s going to touch one of the tin soldiers. I look him in the eyes, and without words, I implore him not to do it. Slowly he lays an open palm on a metal leg. In the blink of an eye, steams erupts, and red eyes glow. The mechanical man starts to slowly unfold from itself as it comes to life. John steps back from it, looks back at us and then runs away. I steel my resolve, fix my feet sternly on the cobbled road and hold my cane at waist height in preparation for the onslaught.

Actually Doing University Work

This week, as the rest of the university, is off to prepare for assessments, our course was also given the week off despite us not having any assessments for a while. For one of our lectures, we were given some work to prepare for a group presentation. This is the first “proper” work that I’ve had to do as a student, and I’ve found it quite hard, to say the least.

To prepare for our presentation, we had to go through a written article about a given subject; our group had a piece of writing titled “Is Poetry Dead?” Now, I don’t know a great deal about poetry, so I’ve gone into the read-through with an open mind, ready to take in what other people have to say on the subject. It wasn’t the reading and taking notes that I found difficult; it was getting the time and motivation to work on it.

If I don’t start work first thing (after my couple of wake up hours of gaming), I find it so hard to get my head into a place in which I can work and have my attention held. I don’t know whether this is just my head being a dick, or it’s because I’ve not been in education for a long time, so now we’re finally getting around to doing some real work; my head is just like, “what the fuck?”

After struggling all week, I finally managed to do what I needed to do yesterday, and I think I’m ready to get together with my group next week and go through what we all made of it. I’m interested to see if we have similar or differing opinions. But I’m also nervous about working in a group. Again, part of my anxiety is probably because I’ve not done this kind of thing for ages, but I think some of it is just because I’m not great at working in a group – my anxiety does summersaults because I end up with no confidence in what I’m saying.

The other reason why my anxiety is so high is that not only do we have to work in a group to put together our own argument relating to our chosen piece, but also present it in front of the rest of the class – I’ve never been great at this. I’m fine in class talking and giving my opinions, but when I have to stand up in front of everyone and talk, it creates a whole new level of anxiety.

Part of the reason why I’m doing this foundation year is to build up my confidence and my skills in areas like these that I might be lacking before heading off to start my actual degree course. I’m hoping that by the time I finish this year, I will have more confidence and fewer issues doing certain things. I’m not blinkered in thinking that I will be fine and my anxiety will disappear completely, but even if it just decreases some, then it will have all been worth it.

I’m getting into the swing of my daily life at uni, but I always knew that as soon as we started real work, I would start to struggle some. I’m trying my best to just get it done and not let my brain dictate what I can and can’t do, but sometimes it’s just so overwhelming and tiring to constantly be doing battle inside my mind.

Soon I have a meeting with the university to get a RAP (Reasonable Adjustment Plan) set up. This will hopefully give me things that will ultimately help me get through the course. It may include things like extensions on pieces of work or more time in exams. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily need these things, but my brain being the dick that it is, it’ll be good to have something in place just in case.

Now that I’ve done what I need to do, I’m going to spend the day working on my WIP – something else that I’ve been struggling to fit in this week. I’m only 950 words into my NaNoWriMo challenge, and I want to be much further in than that. I’m not pressuring myself, but it’d be good to get the first draft of And Then I Killed Her finished this month.

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend!

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again

NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words on a new novel or your current WIP. You keep track of your progress on the website, where you can see how everyone else is doing. You don’t lose out if you don’t manage to do the challenge; it’s all just for fun.


Last year I took part in the challenge with my then WIP, It’s All in the Eyes. I ended up stuck as to where to go with that story, so the challenge pretty much fell by the wayside. But I did manage to add another 20,000 words to the story. This year, however, rather than carrying on with IAITE, I’m putting my current WIP, And Then I Killed Her up for the challenge. I’m currently 22,300 words in, so if I can add another 50,000 by the end of the month, then it will probably be near enough finished. I’d love to get the first draft of this WIP finished, I know there will still be a lot of work to do on it, but it’ll be another step closer to publishing.

This challenge is a great way to get you to write every day, even if it’s just a little. Having a goal to work to makes it easier to see how far you’ve come. I urge any writers out there to give it a go. You’ll also be able to see my progress on my profile over on the NaNoWriMo website.

This weekend I had another idea for a story pop into my head, so I spent a bit of time making notes for it. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but it’s going to be different to other things that I’ve written.

In other news, my story over on Twitter using the #VSS365 daily word prompts, Who Lives Beneath, is still going strong. I will probably do another round-up as a blog post soon, so you’ll be able to read it without having to scroll through the thread.

I’ll leave this here for now; I’ve got some uni work that I need to get done. Have a good week!

Making Time to Write

I posed the question “When do you write?” to my Twitter follows and got the below responses.

Whatever you write, making time to do it, at times, can be extremely trying. We all have things going on our lives, whether it’s a day job, kids, family, friends, hobbies or a whole host of other parts of life, at it can be difficult to put time aside to sit down and write.

Recently I’ve found it harder than usual to get some writing down. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve recently started uni, and although I’m only in for a couple of days a week, it still eats up a lot of its time alongside house things. To add to our workload, because we can’t make life easy for ourselves, we’ve also just got a puppy. Although she is adorable and we wouldn’t change her, she is a lot of work, and as we’re currently trying to house train her, we have to constantly watch her, ready to put her outside at a moments notice. So being able to take some time out and sit and do some writing just isn’t happening at the minute.

Having said this, however, on a Monday, I have an hour for dinner between my lectures, so I’ve been taking a bit of time to eat and get some writing done. So far, this is working pretty well for me, and I’ve been able to write at least a few hundred words in the given time, which isn’t half bad.

It’s been a little bit frustrating at late not being able to write when I want to as I’ve had a tonne of ideas and have had to settle for just making notes instead and hopefully understanding what they mean when I come to go through them. At the moment not being able to write can’t be helped, sometimes other things in life just take priority. I’m just trying to get settled into uni and dog ownership and trying to not get too down on myself while I do it.

My current WIP, And Then I Killed Her, is coming along pretty well, and I’m slowly chipping away at the first draft. I’ve got plenty of notes to work with, and I’ve always got new ideas bouncing around my head. The story has already gone through several different versions and has probably been my most changed work so far. Some of this is because I’m starting to incorporate things that I’m learning in lectures and seeing things that didn’t quite work for one reason or another. I feel like this novel will probably end up being my most polished (after The Next Stage) as I’m taking my time with it to make it just right.

Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story

I’ve been doing the VSS writing prompts on and off for a year or so now, but like most people, I tended to do separate little stories, scenes or poems. But when it came to September, I had an idea.

If you don’t know what I mean by VSS365 writing prompts let me quickly explain. VSS stands for Very Short Story and the idea behind it is give inspiration to writers each day of the year. When you write your story or poem, you have to incorporate the given hash tagged word for that day into it however you wish.

Now back to my idea. It started as an idea that I would develop into a novel; it was a very basic idea about a homeless wizard, but like with And Then I Killed Her – my latest WIP – I wrote a VSS tweet based on the word for the day, but unlike ATIKH I decided to continue the story through tweets while including the daily writing prompt.

The story has been going since the 9th of September, and I’ve only missed a couple of days. I’m finding that creating a story whilst incorporating a writing prompt word allows me for more freedom and for the creativity to flow. I never really know where a story is going, but this way of writing is even more unknown as I don’t know what the prompt for the day is going to be.

The other challenge is that obviously, with Twitter, you have a limited number of characters that you can use, so I have to fit in what I need to say with only using the 240 characters. Sometimes this is quite easy, but other times (because I need to make sure that all the punctuation is in there) can be quite tight and I have to rewrite bits to fit.

I’m going to keep the story going for as long as I can, and, depending on how it works out, I might look at developing it further into a full novel, but we’ll see what happens.

Overall I’m enjoying the process, and I just hope that my readers are enjoying it so far.

Below is the progress of where the story is up to until yesterday (I’ve taken the hashtags out). Enjoy!


The war rages beneath the ground. The shufflers fight valiantly against the overworld bosses, but it just isn’t enough; we are losing.
I rush back to my hovel, take one last look around and grab my cane. I have to use my magic. It’s our only chance.
I scuttle through the old store, avoiding the overworlder patrols. They always do the same circuit, and I have their route memorised. A light suddenly shines in my face, and I have a moment of panic before I realise who it is from the ragged breaths. John had followed.
I stand at the shore of the river. The overworlders have already destroyed the bridges to their capital. I need to find a way across. John points at something across the water. A string of lights is coming through the trees. We can’t let them find us.
We hide in some nearby bushes and let the lights pass us by. John and I decide that we should walk along the river to see what the score is; see if we can find a point to cross. Eventually, we come across a section that has stones we can use to step across the water.
We cross the river and carefully tread through the woods. The lights we saw earlier have disappeared into the mist, and we are now alone in the darkness. We walk about a mile before we come to an old wooden shack. I push the door open with a creak. Inside we find steps.
I remember something from the shufflers’ lore. It’s said that under these woods are a network of underground tunnels that lead directly into an overworld city. These steps must lead into those tunnels. With trepidation, I take my first step down the stone staircase.
Slowly we make our way down the stone steps. When we are at the bottom, we’re not prepared for the gore that we find. The floor is strewn with bodies, both of shufflers and overworlders. Something big went down here, and not long ago.
“Well, at least it’s not us,” John says.
I go to remark on how glib that sounded, but I bite my tongue.
We step across the human detritus, always keeping our eyes on the darkness in front of us. Hopefully, we won’t be down here long. I try not to breathe in the death.
To save us from the worst of the darkness, I light a torch that hangs on the wall. Once it’s alight, we see the true horror of the underground tunnel. There isn’t an empty bit of floor. John mutters that he wishes we were still in the dark. We push forward.
In the dim light, we hear something hit the concrete floor with a wet splat.
“What was that?” John says with a tremor in his voice.
“I don’t know; it could be anything down here,” I say, raising my cane.
There’s a soft, squelching sound that seems to be getting closer.
“Jellies!” John cries.
In a matter of seconds, we are surrounded by several squelching slimy orbs emitting a horrible screeching like a demonic choir.
I waved my cane at them, and a blast of fire burst from the end, hitting the first Jelly. It burst like a balloon.
After several more bursts of fire, all the jellies are defeated. The dark tunnels return to their eerie silence, with only the crackle of our torch to keep us company. With my cane still raised, John and I venture forth further underground, hopefully towards our goal.
“Do you know where we’re going, l?” John asks. His words echo around the black tunnel. He quickly puts a hand over his mouth as if he didn’t mean to speak aloud.
“It won’t be far now,” I say, adding “I hope” in my head as I light a wall sconce with a flare from my cane.
After what feels like an eternity in darkness, we reach another set of stone stairs leading up. We see the pale light of the moon streaming through the entrance. At the top of the steps, I carve my symbol – a circle with two parallel lines going through – it into the wall.
We’re about to step through the stone archway out into the forest when we hear a guttural grumble from behind us. We expedite our exit and run into the trees, leaving the noise behind us. After several minutes we stop, both out of breath. I also feel a tad nauseous.
Prior to continuing our journey, I take a minute to check my small bag of supplies. Wrapped in my knapsack, I had all manner of substances and elements that would help me with spells and incantations. I didn’t know what I was going to face, so I’d grabbed all sorts.
“Where are we going from here?” John asks.
I’m feeling a bit brash, so I just say, “Into the city.”
John’s face says it all. He doesn’t want to storm into a city full of overworlders, but I know if we don’t do something, the war will be over, and we will be the casualties.
“Okay,” John says. I can hear the trepidation in his voice. He’s always one to fret about things, but given the situation we’re in right now, I can’t blame him, even I’m feeling it.
We move forward to the bright fires of the city walls. I have no idea how we’ll get in.
As we approach the high walls, we come across a rivulet of what looks about as far from clean water as you could get. With our eyes, we trace its source and see that it’s coming from a wide pipe that protrudes from the stone.
“Well, we’ve found a way in,” I say.
We approach the pipe and see that it is covered by a metal grate. I raise my cane, steadying my aim with my other hand as a blast of freezing air sprays from the tip. After a few seconds, I lower the stick and approach the grating. One swift kick, and it shatters.
I pull John up into the pipe and look out at the crepuscular light of the waning day. We will be inside by the time it’s dark, which should help us sneak through the streets. I hope.
We trudge further into the pipe through the thick sludge, trying not to inhale too much.
After a few minutes of walking through the pipe, we hear some noises up ahead.
“W…what was that?” John says with a stutter.
Standing in silence, we strain our ears—the Sound of talking approaches.
With nowhere to go, we flatten ourselves against the wall of the pipe.
Suddenly the minimal light in the space is blocked off by a shadow from above. I carefully peel away from the wall and look up through the vertical pipe and see someone stood over the grating. Cautiously we hold our breath until the figure passes and the silence returns.
Soon we approach a ladder. We consider continuing through the pipe, but looking at John, I see he’s pale and like he’s about to vomit.
At the top of the ladder, I lift up a grate and poke my head through. I’m greeted by a sea of tombstones in the cemetery above.


That’s it for now. I’ll do another update once I have another chunk of VSS tweets.

Let me know what you think of the story. Do you take part in the VSS hashtag? How do you use it?

Where Does Inspiration Strike You?

Where do ideas come from? This is a question I ask a lot. I’ve mentioned before how a few of my ideas for novels have come from dreams. But inspiration can strike anywhere. I asked my fellow writers over on Twitter where they come up with most of their ideas, and the answers were quite varied;

For me, inspiration comes from many places, and ideas can strike at any moment in any place. But a few places seem to nurture ideas more than others, for example, in the shower.

From what I’ve seen, the shower/bath is quite a common place for people to come up with ideas. I don’t know what it is about it for others, but for me, it’s a break from life and thinking about things. My brain is relaxed; the usual stresses of day to day life don’t seem to exist, so my mind is open the new ideas. Of course, the problem with having ideas in the shower/bath means that I don’t have my phone/notepad to take some notes. I find myself going over and over it in my head until I’m out and can write it down. Sometimes this works; other times, I’m not able to keep hold of the idea for long enough, and it drifts off into the ether, which quite frankly is a pain in the arse, but oh well.

Ideas don’t just come when my brain isn’t focusing on anything in particular. Sometimes it can be when I’m watching a movie or TV series. Something in the show might trigger my brain, and I think “that could be a great idea to run with”. Now when I say I get ideas from these places, it’s not so much the plot of the movie or TV show that I think is a good idea; it could be something as simple as an image or a specific line that in my head I can see something coming from. For example, we’ve recently been watching The Blacklist, and there was a very simple line of dialogue that probably wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, but at the time, I suddenly had an idea for a story. I made a note of it in my phone, and I’ll try to develop it at some point – there are quite a few of these random little ideas that I’ve made notes of. Some will work, some won’t, but that’s all part of the process.

Today I start my university course proper, so I’m already expecting a lot of new ideas to start coming in, either from the reading or the discussions that we have in lectures.

This was just a quick blog as I’m trying to get ready for uni. I need to get better at writing things in advance so I’m not doing them at the last minute; this is also something that I’m hoping my course will help me with. So tomorrow, I’ll try to sit down and put together a few for the rest of this week and next…hopefully.

Have a good week!

Today’s The Day…

Today I start my creative writing course at University.

Over the past few years, I’ve written 3 books – Creatures, The Next Stage and Blindsighted –  and in that time, I have learned a lot about being a writer, but now I’m doing something that will help me improve even further; I’m heading to university to do a course on creative writing.

A year ago, I never would have thought that would be happening. I thought I’d lost my love of IT, and I wouldn’t find anything else that I could genuinely get into, but I was wrong. Despite no longer liking working in IT, I thought that I would inevitably drift back into it as it was the only thing I’ve ever known and that I was good at.

Writing came out of nowhere as a hobby and something I would do after my day job or at weekends. But it soon became bigger than that, and I wanted to take it further by making it my career.

I’m by no means the best of writers, and I’m not so up my own arse that I don’t think I could learn more about the craft, so when the opportunity came up to go to university to study it, despite being sceptical at first, thinking I wouldn’t get in, I jumped at the chance.

Today is what this past year has been all about. It’s all been leading to this point. The beginning of a new journey in my life. One that I want to make the very best of and one I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Today is a big day for me. I’m excited and anxious as all hell, but I’m going to go and put everything I have into it.

This week is going to be a big adjustment for me. It’s the first week in a long time that I’ve had to be somewhere and not be able to do my own thing. It’s been over a year since I quit my 9-5, and I still don’t think that I’ve adjusted to a new routine. Now I’m throwing myself into a new one, and I’m hoping that my brain doesn’t implode. I’m just lucky to have someone who is always behind me and supports what I want to do. Alex is always there for me and encouraging me, and I couldn’t have got here without her. Sorry to be soppy, but my wife is the best 😊

So now, I’m away to start on the new road my life has taken; wish me luck!

Coming Next Week: University!

Next week I have the start of all things university. I’ll be beginning my induction week on Monday, where I will learn more about my course and meet some of the people involved in it.

I’m simultaneously both looking forward to this and dreading it.

My anxiety is hitting the roof right now and only seems to be getting worse the closer I get to starting. This is usually the case when I have to do something, especially something new, but I’m generally okay once I start, so I’m hoping this will follow previous patterns.

I can’t wait to start, it’s a whole new adventure for me, and I look forward to everything it brings.

I’ve had my schedule through for when the course actually starts, and I’m not in all that much – in fact, I’m only in 2 days. As I’ve not been in full-time education for years, I’m doing what’s called a ‘foundation year’. This will ease me into uni life slowly and teach me how to study again (something that I’ve never been great at historically). I would imagine that my schedule will be a little busier when I start my true first year of the course.

For now, though, two days where I’m required to be there isn’t too bad and depending on what I have to do for uni, I will be able to continue with my current schedule of writing and blogging, at least for a bit. However, I’m sure I’ll eventually have to work out something new to take into account my course requirements.

As I said, I’ve got a mixture of hope and fear going into this course, but I’m mainly trying to stay positive. It will help me with my writing and maybe even help me get a job in the future.

While I’m studying, make my day even better by picking up a copy of one of my books. Each book bought puts a smile on my face, so head over to Amazon and check them out.