Another Monday

On a Monday I usually do a writing update and was hoping that today I would have the news that I finished editing the proof copy of Blindsighted, but unfortunately I don’t. Editing is taking a little longer than I had originally expected for one reason or another, but I’m still doing what I can in a view to release soon.

To acknowledge the imminent release of Blindsighted, I’ve put both of my other books – The Next Stage and Creatures – up for a reduced price over on Amazon. For the next few days, both books will be 99p/99¢ so make sure to grab your copy now.

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US Amazon

Over the weekend we spent time boxing up more of our stuff in preparation for moving very soon. We’ve been living out of boxes for months now while we wait for our new house to be built. With the move just around the corner it’s almost painful having to wait the remaining time. We’ve been to see the house a few times over the past week and it’s amazing to see the progress that has been made in a week. Our house has nearly finished rendering and we can’t wait to move in so we can finally have a home we can make our own.

That’s all for today, I’m going to get back to editing and maybe putting together some blogs for the next few weeks.

Have a good week all.

Friday Restday

Earlier this week, I finished my latest draft of my next book, Blindsighted.

Before I did anything more on that novel, I tried to do some further work on Creatures 2. This didn’t go as planned.

When I finish a project that I’ve been so into, like a novel draft when I finish, it leaves me feeling somewhat lost. I try to jump straight into something else despite knowing how it’s going to go *Spoiler Alert* it doesn’t go well.

I don’t know what it is, but I sit there with a project open, and I’m raring to go, but I just go “meh” and can’t get started when I look at it. I generally try to push myself through the feeling and try to get my enthusiasm back, but it tends just to frustrate me, and I don’t do anything, and if I do, it’s not my best work.

Also, I find myself doubting everything that I’ve just done on my current WIP during this time. I feel like it’s not as good as it could be and that no one will like it. I went through all these stages when I was working on The Next Stage, so I know that people do enjoy my work and that I am good at what I do. There’s always that nagging doubt that I find it difficult to get rid of at the back of my mind.

I don’t know whether this is part of my bipolar or anxiety that is telling me I’m not good enough and gives me the imposter syndrome that I’ve mentioned before. But whatever it is, it’s bloody annoying!

Yesterday after a couple of hours of work, I gave up and played some of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Today I’m not even attempting to work because I know I’ll just get annoyed – plus my hip is killing after doing some house stuff – so I’m going to spend the day sitting on our new, very comfortable bed, playing something and working myself up to doing more work on Monday.

Have a good weekend all, and hopefully, I’ll have some new exciting updates on my writing on Monday. Don’t forget, though, if you need to take some downtime to get your brain a break and get your mental health topped up; it’s okay to do so.

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.

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.

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.

The Next Stage; 100! (Bonus Entry)

It’s been a little under two months since The Next Stage released in Kindle and paperback form. Today it an amazing milestone.

It now has over 100 ratings on Goodreads, and every single damn one of them is ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It has now overtaken Creatures with number of reviews and rating average.

This, to me, is a huge thing to happen and something that I never even thought would happen. When it 50 reviews and they were all ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I thought that was amazing, but hitting 100 is phenomenal.

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I had started work on the second book in the series. I’ve done an outline, and I’ve already started writing -so far I’m up to just over 4000 words, so it’s slowly getting up steam. I think I’ve for a pretty solid story so I’m hoping it’ll follow in the footsteps of the first one and be something that readers enjoy.

Below are all the places you can pick up a copy for yourself along with the Goodreads page.

Amazon

Google Books

Apple Books

Lulu

Kobo

Goodreads

Thank you to all who have bought it so far, especially those that have reviewed it. I hope many more people will enjoy it.

Friday Catch-Up

So today is just an end-of-the-week catch-up.

Today, to celebrate The Next Stage getting over 50 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews – 61 at the time of writing this post – the Kindle version is free over on Amazon. But, if you’d like a Google or Apple Books version, I have so promo codes to giveaway so just let me know.

I still can’t believe how The Next Stage has been received, and I’m exceptionally grateful the those that have reviewed it and especially those that have taken the time to do a text review. Reading how you enjoyed something I’ve written just makes it all worthwhile and like I’m actually good at what I’m trying to make my living doing.

In other news, I’ve decided to set myself a schedule for these blogs, so I have a vague idea of what content to post. It’s going to look something like this;

Monday: Writing update, where I’m up to with projects, and how I write, what I think about writing etc

Wednesday: Gaming, I’ll be doing reviews or retrospectives on gaming throughout my life.

Friday: Mental Health, these will be posts about how I live with bipolar, thoughts on how to deal with different situations, and general chat about it to get things out there.

I may deviate from this on occasion depending on what happens in my life, but I’ll be trying to stick to it where I can.

I’ve also decided to start Twitching again – game streaming, not the tick I get when someone mentions Twilight. My Twitch link is on the main page, but I’ll also be posting when I stream over on Twitter, it’ll probably be a weekend day, so if you want to join me, you’re more than welcome. I did a test run yesterday with Cyberpunk 2077, I’ll be playing through that, but I’m also going to be doing a try of all the months new PSNow additions – a blog about the one we’ve been playing recently will be coming on Wednesday.

As far as writing goes, I’ve been working on my ghost story, and I’m almost at 50,000 words, so it’s coming along. I’m hoping that I’ll have the story finished before Christmas and then I can polish it in the new year and hopefully release it soon after.

That’s it for today, so have a good weekend, and I’ll be back with more updates on Monday.

My Bipolar Life (A Long Post)

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical.

I’ve never been the best at doing either. I’m the kind of person that will just suffer in silence and get on with things, and part of what helped me do that was work. So, when it came to the point where it was work that was causing the problem, I had to make the difficult decision to quit.

A bit of background; I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2008. After years of going up and down between manic and depressive episodes and all the problems that came with it, I decided to finally go to someone for help. After months of doctor and psychiatric appointments, I finally got a diagnosis.

In a small way, finally putting a name to what I was going through helped, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

With a diagnosis, it was time to get medicated. I never wanted to have to take anything just to function, and it was a struggle for me to get it into my head that it was something that I’d have to do. So at first, when the first type of medication did nothing but make me throw up, it was tempting to give up. After a few different kinds of meds, I finally found one that not only helped my moods but also helped me gain weight -something that I’d struggled with in the past and was always stupidly underweight.

Now on medication, that made me a little more stable, I was going to regular psychiatrist appointments and was finally getting in control of my brain.

The next few years were difficult, that’s an understatement, sometimes it was pure hell. But I got through it, usually by getting on with things and working. In this time, I’d been on other medications when things got hard, been to God knows how many doctors and psych appointments, but the one stable thing in my life was my job.

I’d previously worked at a cinema, but when I got an offer to work in IT -something that I actually wanted to do- I jumped at the chance. I was at the same company for 10 years through good and hell times, up and down moods, alone and in relationships.

IT was what I did, it was what I enjoyed, and it was the one stable thing in my life.  I was able to turn off my brain when I turned on a computer and focus on the job. Most people at work didn’t know what was happening beneath my grumpy exterior, I didn’t really want them to know. Bipolar was still something that I was coming to terms with myself, so having to explain to other people was just something that I couldn’t deal with. A select few people knew, but that was it.

As time went on, I continued to go up and down. At times I tried to harm myself, or I wanted to stop taking my meds, but I got through it with the help of some close friends. Those close to me that I actually saw how they cared about me when I didn’t.

When the company that I worked at closed its doors, I was left without a job for a few months. I enjoyed having a few months to myself, to write (this is when I self-published Creatures), play games, watch movies and generally relax. By now, I was also with Alex, someone who I felt complete with. She also has Bipolar, so we helped each other through. But, after a few months of doing my own thing, I started to feel like I needed to get back into work. I missed the one thing that had helped me through the most challenging times of my life.

I got the chance to work with a company that I had worked with at my previous job, and who I had wanted to work for for a while. I was happy that I finally got a job there, and everything seemed to be getting better.

But, as with most things in my life, the good didn’t last. I had been at the company for a few months when my brain – for no good reason – started to rebel. I began to feel down and really started to struggle to do what I was supposed to do at work.

The job involved fixing computers, this wasn’t the issue. The problem was that I had to talk to people on the phone – something that I’m not great at – and this slowly started to take its toll on me. Along with this, the travel was also getting harder, especially when some days it could take me an hour maybe two to get home at night. I tried not to let this get to me, but it was eroding me from within.

Eventually, it got to the point where I had to admit to myself that I needed a break and despite really not wanting to, I had to take some time off sick. As soon as I decided this, it was almost as if my brain decided to open the flood gates, and I had an extremely nasty depressive episode.

During these few months, I was going to appointments here there and everywhere, changing meds, and trying to relax and recharge, but it was a long slow struggle.

After going back to work when I thought I was ready, things just didn’t feel the same. I was supported by a few great people there, but some weren’t so great. Those people, it wasn’t like they didn’t seem to know how to deal with my issues when I needed help, it was almost as if I was the problem and they couldn’t be arsed with me, which just made things harder.

I struggled through another few months, some days easier than others. But eventually, I ended up off sick again. This time I wasn’t off as long as the first and managed to get back sooner, but things still weren’t right. By this time I’d been going to work, coming home and sleeping. I couldn’t function at night because I was exhausted from the day and travelling to and from the office.

I spent a few months trying to figure out where the problem was. I slowly narrowed things down, but changing things in my life until I was pretty much down to the travelling and the job itself.

When things in the world went tits up, and Covid-19 made its appearance, we started to work from home. For a time, working this way and not having to travel made a real difference to my moods, and I began to feel better. I felt like I’d finally found where the problem was, and I was making some progress in getting in control of my life again.

This, unfortunately, didn’t last. As time went on, I started to go downhill again. I spent a bit of time trying to stick it out, telling myself that the feeling wouldn’t last and I would feel better soon. But when that didn’t happen, I had to look at other solutions.

After discussing it all with Alex, and giving myself a period to work things out, I decided it would be the best thing for my mental health to leave my job. This decision was tough because work had been the one constant thing that had helped me through my worst times, so now, realising that it was work that was caused the problem was difficult.

One day, I rang my manager, explained how I was feeling and that I was handing in my notice. After hanging up this call, I immediately felt a release of pressure inside.

The next month was hard, and I couldn’t help but second guess my decision, but I always came around to the inevitable conclusion that it was the best course of action.

So, that brings us to now. I have been out of the job for around 6 months and – not counting the pain from my torn labrum and everything that goes along with it – I’ve never felt better.

I’ve got into a new routine with my writing, was finally able to release The Next Stage, and work on other projects. Of course, there have still been difficult times, but I dread to think how I would have been now had I stayed in the job I have a feeling it would have gone downhill rapidly, and I just wasn’t prepared to put myself, or Alex, through that.

I’m now able to write full time, do things around the house and not be constantly knackered at night wanting to just go to bed. I felt like I’d finally made progress in getting myself to how I had been before.

Bipolar is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. So there are always going to be the ups and downs, but it’s about minimising these and being a bit more in control of what I can to make that happen.

As difficult as things are at times, when people ask me if I would get rid of the Bipolar if I could, I still say no. I am not this disorder, but it’s a part of me and has shaped some of my life. I don’t know who I would be if I got rid of it and became a “normal” person – whatever that means. There are things in my life that I wish I had never been through, of course, there are, but they’ve happened, and I got through them to still be here today.

There is always the possibility of manic or depressive moods hanging over my head, but I don’t focus on it. Now being happy in my life, and actually wanting to be here, gives me more reason to fight back and get through the worst times.

If you’re struggling, I hope you read this and realise that things can get better. Even if, like I used to be, you don’t feel like you have anything to live for, things can change, and as cliché as it is; things can get better.

I have been alone in life sometimes for years, but I’m still here and still fighting.

Good News Monday

Yet another Monday hits us in the face like a brick.

I woke up feeling sick and in pain, but as the pain meds kick in and the sickness fades away, I’m left with at least some good to come out of a Monday.

The Next Stage and Creatures are now available on Google Books in 66 countries.

With this new outlet, it means that my books are now available through Amazon, Lulu, Payhip, Apple Books and Google Books. I’m hoping that these distribution channels will mean that more people will be able to read and enjoy them.

I’ll add the new Google links to the Books page of this blog with the others.

Last week I also started a giveaway with the Apple version, I’m going to extend this giveaway until Friday of this week and add in the Google version, so when you enter you can let me know which version you’d prefer to receive a code for.

In other news, I’ve several more reviews in for The Next Stage, and I’m happy to say that the full 5-star rating on Goodreads hasn’t been changed. Everyone seems to really enjoy this book and every time I receive a new review – and it’s another 5 – it makes all the work I put into the book worthwhile and spurs me on to want to get it out to as many people as I can.

As far as the writing goes, I’ve not done a great deal over the past week, that’s to say I’ve done none…

I’m hoping that now I’ve been on these new pain meds for a week that the side effects start to settle down and I can concentrate on things again. The only thing I’ve really been able to do this past week is play Skyrim. That’s not a bad thing, and I got another platinum trophy out of it, but I miss writing, and I want to get back into it as soon as I can. But I also don’t want to write for the sake of it and end up churning out crap.

Once I’ve posted this and update the links and whatnot, I’m going to attempt to do some; I guess time will tell.

It’s Been Another (Long) Week

As far as writing goes, this week has been a write off. From pointless hospital appointments taking up a day to new pain meds, making me spaced out, I’ve not been able to do a great deal.

One plus has come out of this week though, and that’s that both Creatures and The Next Stage are now available to those of you with Apple devices as they are now on Apple Books – links are available on the Books page of this blog.

I’ve been working on making them available on both Apple and Google Books, the Google stuff I started last week, and I’m still waiting for my account to be approved, the Apple I started on Wednesday and got them up in a few hours. Google really need to pull their fingers out. But, at least I’ve got them out there so hopefully more people can read them.

In other good news, the reviews for The Next Stage started to come in and so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had 8 ratings so far, and they’ve all be 5 stars, which I think is just incredible. I never thought that something I wrote would be received so well. That’s just another reason why I want to get this book out to as many people as I can. In this challenging year, I hope it brings a little bit of respite from the chaos outside.

In addition to all the purchase options I’m working on, I’m also considering doing a competition for readers to get a signed paperback copy of The Next Stage. I’ve got a few author copies that I want to give away, I just need to iron out what I’m going to do and when, so keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for further details.

As for today, once I’ve uploaded this blog, I’m going to try to do some actual writing. I’m torn at the minute of whether I carry on with It’s All in the Eyes, or I do some more work on my ghost-like story which as the moment is temporarily called The Man (I’m hoping a better title will come to me as I write.)

That’s it for blogs again for another week, I’ll hopefully be back next week and able to do a little more, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the side effects from these new painkillers settle down and I can concentrate more on writing and less on shiny things.

Have a good weekend all.