Friday Delight

Friday again. Another week is done. It’s the weekend and all that jazz.

It’s been another long week at this end. Things with the house are slowly drawing to a close as we’re hoping to be in by the end of April. And my third book, Blindsighted, was released on Wednesday.

I spent the bulk of the start of the weekend preparing forthe release of Blindsighted. I was double-checking everything was in place and correct over on KDP, so when I published it, there wouldn’t be any issues – luckily, there weren’t any. Plus, I created a few little promo images for it that I could post on Twitter, Instagram and this website.

With all that done, it’s now out in the world. Unfortunately, I’m still yet to sell a copy, although I’ve had a few pages read on Kindle Unlimited. I’m not worried, though. The world is still in somewhat of a mess with the old pandemic, and people don’t have the same money that they might have pre-covid. The important thing for me is that the book is out there for when people want to read it. Although, it would be nice if I sold a couple of copies this week…

Things with our new house are moving along, if seemingly very slowly. We’re starting to get a bit frustrated now that we’re so close. We’re getting fed up with living out of boxes and just want to be told that we can move in.

We’re just waiting for the inspection to be done; then we can have our house demonstration. It’s painful because there is nothing we can do to speed it up, and for the most part, we’re boxed up and ready to go, so we don’t have anything much we can do around the house.

What we have been doing, though, is preparing to hand our rental back. This has meant we’ve been having to deep clean rooms and paint bits and pieces that need doing. But even with this, we’re coming to the end of what we can do until the place is empty.

We’re really looking forward to no longer being in a rental property and having to deal with our landlords, who, for the most part, are somewhat useless.

Our new house will be our first bought property, and we’re unbelievably excited to make it our own. We have so many plans of what we want to do inside and in the garden. So there will undoubtedly be more updates about our progress with those.

In other news, we’re currently winning our little Instagram battle with Alex’s sister and her partner. We, the socially awkward, are prevailing on social media over people that have been there and done it before us. Follow us over at @LUNELIFFEYLIFE for updates of our house journey.

That’s about it for today. I leave you with a simple message. Buy my new book!

Click to go to Amazon

Have a good weekend.

Blindsighted Release Day!

Well it’s that day again. The day when I get to announce that a book I’ve written is being sent out into the world.

Blindsighted is a story I started writing before the release of my last book, The Next Stage. It’s a completely different type of story. Where The Next Stage was a cyberpunk thriller, Blindsighted is more a Horror/paranormal/ghost story.

Below you can find the books description:

HE CAN’T SEE YOU, BUT HE KNOWS YOU’RE THERE.

When Nathan and his mother move into their dream home, they think their days are looking up. But when Nathan starts to experience visions of a man with no eyes stalking him, their dream home soon becomes a nightmare.

Soon he starts to see a mysterious ghostly boy that seems to be guiding him towards something.

Can Nathan make sense of what the boy is trying to tell him before the sinister man gets too close, or will he disappear as others have?

As of this morning, Blindsighted is available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited. The Amazon paperback version is still sat in the pending status but it should hopefully be available very soon too if you want a physical copy. I’ll post an update when it becomes available.

Releasing a book for others to read brings up feelings of relief and terror. Relief that it’s finally finished and ready for others to read and terror because you don’t know how readers are going to react to your story.

All in all it’s a good feeling, and with this – the publishing of my third book – everything doesn’t seem as strange. I feel like this is something that I should be doing, especially after the reception that The Next Stage got.

Anyway, you’ll be able to find Blindsighted over on Amazon by searching for it, going to the books page from the Books tab at the top of this page or clicking the links below.

Thank you in advance for buying a copy of this new novel. I hope you enjoy it!

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.

Monday Writing Update

Just a quick update today as we’re off for our pre-plaster inspection of our new house.

When I get back to writing, I’ll be continuing with my second draft of Blindsighted. Last week I got around halfway through and even managed to add an extra 4000 or so words for the extra bits I wanted to add.

The extra bits are just small additions to the story to make it read a little better and give the story a bit more depth. So far it’s meant the addition of a couple of chapters and will probably mean another few will be added too.

In the background, I’ve also been tweaking the cover a little bit too. I’ll reveal at a later date.

I’m also happy to see that another 5-star review for The Next Stage has come in over the weekend too.

I hope you’re week is a good one. I’ll see you for the next post on Wednesday.

Dreams and Writing

Dreams are weird. In our dreams, we can do and be anything. They’re thought to be the brain’s way of processing emotions, stimuli, memories, and other information that’s been absorbed throughout the day. Many of the people that appear in your dreams may be people you know, perhaps in different roles; but they are people you recognise, only a small percentage are people you don’t, and maybe you’ve seen out and about.

Within dreams, we can fulfil fantasies and play out scenarios that wouldn’t necessarily happen in the real world. For me, dreams can be extremely lucid. Many of my dreams feel so real that waking from them can be confusing, and it takes my brain a few minutes to adjust and realise I was asleep.

I’ve had odd and unsettling dreams that have woken me during the night, I’ve had pleasant dreams that leave me feeling good, I’ve also had dreams that have had credits and “Previously on…” moments – this might just be due to the amount of TV I watch though. I’ve also had dreams that continue night on night or ones that I go back to after a few nights, and even ones that link to others in some way, either by character or occurrences.

Some dreams I have, disappear into the ether as soon as I open my eyes, others stay with me for hours, and some – like the ones I’m going to talk about – stay with me for years.

The dreams that stay with me for years can do so for a few reasons. This can be because they were so good/bad that they linger in my mind, or because I think it’s a good idea that I can develop.

Creatures was one such story that I developed from a dream.

I remember the basic premise from the dream was that there was a scientist (someone I didn’t recognise played this character) who was in a lab. Something went wrong in this lab, the accident spawning mutant rats that caused an apocalyptic event.

Something with this dream stuck with me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I kept remembering extra details to the point where I had to write it down, hoping that this would stop it from being at the forefront of my thoughts. The more I wrote and added to the story, the more I remembered from my dream. It was an odd process, but it worked and allowed me to get the story down on paper and organised into what became my first novel.

I’ve had several other dreams of this type that I’m attempting to develop into a coherent story. These include; It’s All in the Eyes and Blindsighted – but ironically not my story based around dreams.

It’s All in the Eyes is a story that’s been in my head for around 17 years and one that I’ve tried to write down on multiple occasions without much success, but it’s still in there, rattling around trying to escape. Recently – as I’ve said in a previous post – I’ve started working on this again. There are few new details that I’ve added to make the story flow and read better, but the basic idea is from a dream that I had nearly 2 decades ago.

I find it odd that dreams like this stick with me. This dream isn’t special. It’s not one that I’ve actively tried to remember but it just lingers in my mind. I wonder if – once I written and released it into the world – whether the dream itself will made into memory or whether it will continue to be at the forefront of my brain. Creatures did this. I’m working on a sequel to it, but the dream that the first book was developed from has faded away. It still crops up now and then when I think about it, but otherwise, it’s like most other dreams I’ve had and had been relegated to the back of my mind.

As I work on my latest story idea, I’m doing research into dreams, what they are, what causes them, and why some of them feel more real than others. This may help me understand why dreams like the one that spawned Creatures are difficult to shake, or it might just confuse me further. Whatever dreams are, I stand by my previous utterance; dreams are weird.

Ghost Writer

This past week I completed my first draft of Blindsighted, what I hope will be my next book to release. It currently stands at around 60K words. I already have ideas of what things that I want to add or alter within the main story, but I’m taking some time away from this story for a bit as it’s all I’ve worked on for a month or so.

While on this break I’m going to be working on the tentatively titled Dreams – which ironically is one of the few ideas that didn’t come to me in a dream. I started this a few months ago and didn’t get past the first chapter. When I went back to it last week, I rewrote what I had, not to alter its content, but just to make it read a little better as the initial bit that I wrote was simply just to get the idea down so I wouldn’t forget it.

Although I’m working on Dreams, last night, Alex and I started to go through the “ghost” videos that I posted on YouTube some years back.

To give a little background to this; I lived in a flat in Manchester on my own for a number of years, soon after I moved in, I started to experience some odd things. The experiences I had, ranged from doors opening and closing on their own, shadows in the shape of a person in several rooms, pots rattling near the sink, banging and other noises as well as a whole bunch of “feeling weird.” These odd occurrences prompted me to record what was happening; I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just in my head.

I spent a long time filming what was happening and spent even longer going through it, discounting what I thought to be explainable. What I uploaded to YouTube were the things that I couldn’t explain. Some of the extra things I found when going through the videos included, the sound of invisible footsteps, voices and other noises, shapes moving across the screen, and even at one point, the camera itself being moved.

We’re going through these videos a little closer than I did at the time and trying to see what other things I caught, and so far the list is long and growing further. Once we’ve done this, I hope I can then put it all together in the form of a book as an account of what I experienced in the flat. It will hopefully include the experiences of friends that stayed there alongside my own.

This book is something that we’ve been talking about for some time now, and I think It’ll be something that will take quite a bit of time to put together into a readable state of the true account of what happened. It’ll probably be something that I dip in and out of, and I may end up – as I did with The Next Stage – having a corkboard with everything planned out on it.

The book will be my first non-fiction book, so It’ll be an entirely new experience writing down something that actually happened.

I know that some people will read this and immediately disbelieve everything and say it’s all nonsense, which is fair enough, people have a right to believe what they want. All I can say is that these things happened to me and others that visited the flat. I’ve done my best to explain some things away, but some things are just unexplainable; at least to me. Maybe if you watch the videos you’ll be able to explain them, perhaps not, it’s all open for interpretation. But if I can put everything together in a book that lays everything out, people can come to their own conclusions – even Alex didn’t believe me when she moved in…she does now.

If you want to watch the videos for yourself, look up GaxsGhost on YouTube or click here.

Bipolar: The Manic Side

Before Christmas, I did an overview of Bipolar Disorder and what it means and what it causes. Being Bipolar/Manic Depressive means you not only have depressive episodes; but also manic ones.

In my life, the depressive episodes have far outweighed the manic ones. But allow me to let you in on how some of my manic episodes have gone.

When I’m manic, it’s not just that I feel happy. My brain runs 10x faster than it usually does and thinks pretty much everything is a good idea. There have been some bad outcomes to this, but also some good.

On the bad side, I tend to want to spend money I don’t have. This has resulted in me racking up a boat – possibly one of the few things I didn’t buy – load of debt. I didn’t always buy big things, but I would buy a lot of small items, and those little things mounted up. I’ve managed to pull myself out of this now, and it’s something that I don’t want to get back into. However, when I have manic episodes, I still have the urge to spend money I don’t have and need to spend some time talking myself out of it, thankfully I’m able to do this much easier these days, but it’s still hard. However, it’s something that always preys on my mind as I’m aware of just how easy it would be to slip back into it.

The other thing I get when manic is the urge to be creative. This has ranged from setting up online shops with various products – I’ve done a few of these that didn’t last long, although one of my t-shirt shops is still going over on Cafepress– to things that I actually stuck with for a long time like my animated YouTube series Todd the Zombie. Even my first book, Creatures, started as a need to get through a manic episode.

Todd the Zombie is something that I thought up one day when I was on my way home from work and had a need – like years later with Creatures – to get out of my head. The series is based around a zombie IT guy that worked at a large company, not unlike Apple – but shhh- a vampire security guard, a dumb receptionist, a ghost delivery girl, a devil accountant, and a totally inept boss. All done in an isometric 3D style, with a lot of game, movie, and TV references, sometimes the animation changing style to match the references.

Eventually, it would lead to me asking my brother to write some scripts, and I also had some friends that worked on it with me, either by doing animation or some of the voices. Soon I would end up meeting several other people online that would become part of TeamTodd. Sadly, after 4 years and 2 series, I kind of fell out with the process, everyone went their own ways, and Todd ended. But it’s still available online over on YouTube, and it’s website www.toddthezombie.com. I still hope one day to pick it back up and do more episodes.

Even though it started from a manic episode, it was something that I enjoyed and something that was positive. After years of only making mistakes when manic, it was a welcome change having something tangible come out of being manic. The people I met along the way also helped me through some of my worst depressive episodes, so I’ll be forever grateful to them and for all that they did.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that for me, manic episodes can be just as bad as the depressive ones, but they can also lead to good things.

I’d say that one of the worst things about the manic episodes I’ve had, is that feeling I get when I know I’m manic and I become painfully aware that one day it will end and I will end up going the other way. The problem with that is that I don’t have the capacity when manic to do anything about what I see coming. It’s like running on to a train track as a speeding train comes straight at you, unable to move because the bright light transfixes you.

In my experience, it’s challenging to get a diagnosis of Bipolar. I would only seek help when I was in a depressive episode, so that would be all doctors or therapists would see. When I’m manic, the world is a beautiful place filled with shiny objects and pretty colours; I don’t think anything is wrong in my life. It’s also the time when I decide that taking my medication isn’t a thing I need to do anymore, and the urge to just stop them is overwhelming. Whereas when depressed, I know something is wrong, and I may need help with something. Although it’s still hard to go and get the help I need.

The manic side also doesn’t really catch the attention of other people. You’re seen as “the life of the party” or maybe just a bit “weird” or “random” as opposed to seeing a person that is struggling with a mental health problem. But when you’re in a depressive episode, people just see you as “grumpy” or ” angry,” or you’re just told to suck it up and get on with things; if only that were possible!

There is still a stigma around depression and Bipolarity. So the people that genuinely need help are either unable to get it or are too scared to ask for fear of people looking at them differently.

I’m still at the start of my journey of being able to talk about these things, so forgive me if all this is a bit rambly or disjointed, but it’s still hard for me to talk about some things, although I feel better for having done so. I’m also not trying to get preachy; I’m just trying to explain how my life and the lives of those around me are affected by the two sides of the Bipolar coin that flips in my head. Luckily it’s standing on the edge at the minute, but there’s no telling when it will tip to one side, and to which it goes.

I hope these posts help people, even if it’s just in some small way, with the knowledge that other people are struggling too. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Writing: To First Drafts and Beyond

A first draft. What is it? Well, it’s a draft…that came first. For every writer, it could mean something different. I’m coming to the end of my first draft of my ghost story, so I wanted to address what it means to me.

I asked my fellow writers on Twitter what the first draft for them consists of, and the answers varied;

For me, a first draft is similar to the latter response.

I write the basics of a story. Whatever comes into my head, goes down and I try to make it make at least a little bit of sense. There is dialogue in there, I try to get most of the location data down, and there is some description there – mainly so I don’t forget what I was thinking at the time. It’s the bare bones of a story, but it’s way off being finished. These, for me, have ended up being around 40-50K words

Once I feel like I’ve finished the story, it’s time to go back over it. That’s when the V2 file is created.

This second draft is used to figure out if everything is in an order that makes sense. For The Next Stage, this meant adding some extra chapters in between others. In this case, I added more detail and events revolving around one of the characters – the President. This allowed me to add other events later on in the book and added – I feel – to the book’s depth as a whole. This draft is also used to add extra dialogue and build on the description already in there. Making the world a bit more rounded and believable.

Once the second draft is done, it’s time for another read through. This V3 draft is used to correct any spelling or punctuation that has been missed or entered correctly. It also serves for me to make the story read a little better. In the first couple of drafts, the story might not read and flow as I would have liked, and if that were sent out to readers, they might find it disjointed and difficult to read. I may end up reordering paragraphs or even chapters to improve the story’s flow during this stage.

V4 – now we’re getting into almost finished territory. This draft consists of reading through once again and double-checking everything I’ve done in the last few drafts. For The Next Stage, this was also the stage in which I ensured that the story’s timing was how I wanted it. Because I had dates and times on each chapter, I needed to make sure that they were set in the right period and any mention of date/time was correct as per the chapter heading.

After doing all these checks, I was finally ready to let someone else read it, *Enter Alex*

Once she had read through, enjoyed the story, and pointed out any issues that she noticed, I was ready for another draft, but this one was slightly different.

The next version I created wasn’t done in Word. This draft was done by uploading to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and creating the book as a paperback, as I would like it when it’s finished, and ordering a proof copy. I found this stage immensely satisfying as I could hold the book in my hand, and the whole thing felt a bit more real.

Armed with post-it notes and highlighters, I went at the proof copy. I read through and marked it up as I went. I was surprised at the amount of stuff that I marked up in it, despite having been through it 4 times before. There was something about having it physically in my hand that allowed me to find errors easier – I’ll definitely be doing this again with my next book, and I recommend it as a way to edit if you can.

After doing this read-through, I decided that I had found all I could and was ready for publishing.

Self-publishing means that, for the most part, I rely on my judgment as to whether a book is ready to publish. It’s so easy to sit and repeatedly go through it until my eyes bleed. But at some point, you’ve just got to say “f!ck it, it’s done.”

This method is just what works for me. As I said at the top, different writers have different approaches. You’ve just got to find what way works for you. You can look to others for advice and what they do, but ultimately it’s your decision to find what’s best for you.

Thanks to everyone for their input into this post.

The End of a Holiday

Last week I posted about taking a break from writing over Christmas. I was only supposed to be coming back to it tomorrow (Tuesday), but I’ve missed writing more than I ever thought I would, so I’m starting again today.

When I worked my 9-5 – even though it wasn’t really 9-5 – in IT, and had time off, I dreaded going back into the office. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my job – in the most part – but I hated going into an office, or more recently, logging on while working from home. Now I’m writing full-time, I feel more relaxed with what I’m doing, which is doing wonders for my mental health.

Doing my own thing helps so much. Having the option of not doing anything if my brain is having an off day reduces the stress I feel on a daily basis, and I can just relax until I feel better. There was nothing worse on a day when my brain was rebelling than having to put my “happy face” on and pretend I was okay when inside I was screaming. Being able to take a break whenever I like also helps. I can have a wander, or get a drink/snack, without anyone monitoring the length of time I take away from my desk. It’s so freeing.

Anyway, today I’m back at it, and I’ll mostly be working on some blog entries for Wednesday and Friday. I’ve got a few ideas that I’ve been working on for the games blog on Wednesday, and I’ll no doubt have something to say on mental health on Friday, because, well, I still have my brain.

I’m surprised that I actually managed to stick to the no writing for the last week. I didn’t think I would make it this far, to be honest. I thought I’d be on day 2 and then get back into it. That’s not to say I didn’t want to. It was almost painful at times being away from writing, the urge to “just do a little bit” was always there (it would never be “just a bit”), but I also knew that I needed to take a break, to recharge and not get burnt out.

Having some time off from actually writing words, didn’t stop my brain from coming up with new ideas for stories or where to take my current WIPs. So now, when I come back to them, I have a stack of things that I can work on and try to fit into them.

The other thing I discovered having time off, is that not having writing to focus on allowed the pain I’m still feeling in my hip to bubble to the surface and feel worse. I’m hoping that getting back to writing will not only help my mental health but also stop me focusing on any physical pain I’m experiencing.

So…back to it.

An Author’s Holiday

As I’ve previously said, in May of this year I quit my job in IT, because I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore and it was affecting my mental health…blah, blah, blah, but this blog isn’t about that, it’s about holidays.

Now that I don’t have a “real” job and I’m writing full time, you’d think I could pretty much do what I want to, write? (Haha, see what I did there? Urgh) I’ve been trying to give my days a bit more structure because, 1) It helps my mental health and 2) it means I’m more likely actually to get something done. But, just like in a 9-5 job, I need time off. This year more than ever, time off is essential, to not only look after my mental health but also recover some from physical injury.

One plus for not working a 9-5 is that if I decide to take some time off, I only need to clear with my own brain. There’s none of this, trying to find out what other people have booked off, and trying to get it approved by some manager who you never see. The only obstacle I face is actually making myself take the time, and not deciding I will just write this little bit – and then realising it’s 4 hours later.

All I’m trying to say with this blog is that I’ve decided to take a few days off over Christmas and the new year.

Although I’m taking this time off writing, I’m putting together some blog posts and scheduling them, and I’ll probably still be around on Twitter.

As it’s Monday here’s a bit of a writing update.

I’ve shelved It’s All in the Eyes for the time being. I got a bit stuck with where I was going with it, and rather than muddling through and messing it up; I decided a break from it might help.

I’ve done some more work on the tentatively titled The Man (which may also be called Blindsighted, I haven’t decided yet.) I’ve still got a good idea where it’s going, and I’m almost at the end of creating the basic story, so I may pick this back up in the new year again to try to get the first draft finished.

This last week, however, I’ve been working on The Next Stage 2 – no that’s not going to be the final title…I just don’t know what it will be yet. I’ve got around 6000 words written, so it’s coming along. I’ve managed to put a few of my favourite ideas together, leaving some by the wayside for another time. I’m really hoping people will like it as much as the first one, but I guess time will tell.