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.

Publishing Perils and Mental Health

I self-published The Next Stage back in October. Before I did this, however, I sent it out to a few publishers that when I didn’t hear back from, I decided to go ahead with publishing it myself.

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of the publishers that I’d sent to, saying they would like to publish it.

I won’t lie; this got me a little excited as I thought I was finally getting somewhere. Unfortunately, this feeling wasn’t to last.

We looked into this publisher and found that they had published some fairly well-known books, so we thought “Great, they seem reputable.”

After reading the email more thoroughly, I found that they didn’t want to publish my book with a traditional contract, but with something they termed ‘Hybrid.’ I was still excited though as I still thought that this was going to be
something good.

However, when we started to look into what that meant, and the testimonies of others that have tried to do things this way, my good feeling evaporated and left me feeling down.

Let me explain what we found.

Basically, the hybrid contract that this publisher was offering sounded pretty much like self-publishing, only you’re not doing it, you’re paying someone else to do it for you. And for this service, they would ask for a pretty large sum of money – which I don’t have.

We started to look into what other people have said about these kinds of contracts, and the good feeling faded further.

Many people said that this company took their money and did very little for them. That they refused to do any of the marketing that they promised to do. It seemed that they reneged on all of their promises to other authors and left them with a book that was selling and a massive deficit in their finances. This just wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

I’ve only been writing for a while, and I am well aware of the perils of traditional publishing. You may get twenty refusals for every one acceptance, but having this acceptance snatched away from me so unceremoniously took a real bite out of my mental health.

There was part of me wondering what the point of even trying was. I felt like I wasn’t going to get anywhere.

Now, I know that The Next Stage is a good book. The reviews speak for themselves. But struggling with a mental health issue means that even the slightest setback, can cause significant damage to my self-esteem and my want to continue with my writing career.

I’ve now recovered from this setback – because that’s all that it was – I’m continuing with my writing, and I’m probably a few months away from my next release, but this whole thing has left a bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to sending my books to publishers.

I know that not all publishers are likely to give me the experience I had above, but I’m now warier than ever about dealing with anyone.

I hope that in the future I will feel confident enough to send things out once again, but for now, I’m just going to stick to doing things myself. It’s hard doing everything from writing to publishing and marketing yourself. But I feel a modicum of control over it now which I’m not willing to give up at the sake of my mental health.

I warn any other – not just those with mental health issues – to be wary of who you send your books to. Please make sure you research them beforehand and be sure of what you’re doing. I obviously didn’t do enough. I think I was probably having a very slight manic “this will be a good idea” moment. But at least now I have learned from the mistake and am now able to continue with my writing.

Writing Update – Blindsighted Second Draft

A few weeks ago I finished the first draft of my new paranormal/ horror story Blindsighted.

Rather than taking a break from writing I decided to jump straight into another WIP this one an as yet untitled sci-fi. I’ve got a few chapters and have a vague idea of where I’m going with it but I spent most of my time researching dreams, mainly what happens to us if they don’t dream, as this is a pertinent part of this new WIP. I won’t go into it much at this stage though.

After a couple of weeks of working on this story and putting together a few blogs for the coming weeks, I started to have ideas for extra chapters and ideas that I could slot into Blindsighted so I’ve taken this as a sign that I should get back into it.

I’ll start by going over what I have and then working on the extra bits and pieces as I come up to where they should go.

I’m excited to work on this story again as it’s completely different to my last release The Next Stage and I’m enjoying the change of pace.

Once I’ve completed this draft I’ll likely share the synopsis of it so you can have an idea of what it’s all about. The only thing I’ve generally shared so far is that it’s about “a man with no eyes” which I hope is whetting your appetite for more.

Anyway, back to the writing. Have a good week.

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.

Lockdown Writing

I live in the UK, and we’re currently in our…wait a minute, I know this…third lockdown, and we’re experiencing all the fun that goes along with it.

Lockdowns have been sh!t, to say the least. We all have to find ways of getting through them; some people have built things, others painted, watched, read, played, but it has been writing for me.

During this time of world collapse, for me, writing has been a great escape. I know I left my full-time day job at the start of 2020 to focus more on writing, but continually being unable to leave the house is also a good catalyst for getting more writing done.

The first lockdown and the proceeding events gave me time to focus on finishing off The Next Stage. I had more time that I ordinarily would have spent playing games or watching crappy movies that I instead used to be more productive.

It’s so easy during these lockdowns to while away the time without actually doing a great deal, so for me to be able to focus on something has not only helped me pass the time, but the focus has also helped my mental health.

More time for writing doesn’t just mean the act of writing words, but also the planning of a story. I’ve been able to do more research on specific topics that I want to have in my books.

For my latest book, Blindsighted, which is a supernatural horror, I’ve been able to look more depth into hauntings, spells, and even – without giving too much away – spells. The added time for research means that I don’t rush it and simply add the first idea that I come up with; I can look into a few different things and pick which one I think will work the best. I did quite a bit of research for The Next Stage, but it makes me wonder how much I could have done if I had been writing it during these lockdowns. I feel like I put a lot of detail into it as it is, but maybe it would have been even greater if I’d written it now; not that I feel it’s lacking in any way.

It’s not just the writing that has passed the time during lockdowns, but also everything else that comes with being an author.

The publicity of a newly released book took up quite a bit of time. Spending my time on Twitter, not just posting ranty comments – although there have been a few – but interacting with fellow authors, reviewers, and the writing community, in general, has taken the place of the those physical interactions that I may have had while not in lockdown. Even though I’m an innately antisocial person, I still struggle when the choice of being social has been taken away from me. I also started my Instagram and even this blog during one of the lockdowns, both of which have helped me get my work out there to more people.

During the start of this lockdown, I also did my first radio interview; something that came out of nowhere and I never thought I’d ever do. But now that I’ve done one, I’m looking forward to the next.

Even these blogs have helped me. This has been another outlet for book publicity and my frustrations and want for social interaction.

Through my interactions with Twitter, I’ve found that I’m not the only one who has focused on writing through this uncertain time. Fellow writers have also used this time to finish projects they’ve worked on for some time and even publish more works than they would have been able to in an average year.

More books being published, I’ve found, has also helped other non-writers through the lockdowns. Being able to escape to other worlds has got them through the worst times. This, in turn, has again assisted the authors by providing that little bit more income.

I hope we can get out of the lockdowns and the restrictions as soon as possible, but having writing to focus on makes the time go a little quicker and makes it that little bit more tolerable.

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.

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.

Cover Second Thoughts

Monday, Monday, Monday.

I’m back to writing this week after all the fun last week, what with pain meds knocking me into a parallel universe and ending up in hospital with an excruciating migraine.

Well, I say back to writing…last night I got thinking about the cover for The Next Stage. I know, I know, I’ve archived all the files, and I should be moving on and concentrating on new things, but I got it stuck in my head, so I had to do something about it.

I was thinking that although I do like the simplistic cover, I’ve always felt that something was missing. I didn’t want to move away from simple – simple seems to be what my covers are all about – but I felt like I could make it a bit better, and maybe doing so would make a few more people take a look at what it’s all about.

So, this morning I did a bit of messing about with colours, fonts and images and I’ve come up with something a bit different.

This is what it looks like now;

I’m just uploading and changing the cover art in the various different places that the book is available, so hopefully, soon you should see a difference on their site pages. I’ll also update on the Books page on this blog.

Now that they’re all changed – or in the process of changing – I can now get back on to actual writing.

I’m currently focusing on my ghost story at the minute, but I’ve also had some thought about a story that is tentatively called Dreams. Dreams will be another sci-fi story, but it may (or may not) have some horror elements too. I’ve not done a great deal on it so far, having only written the first chapter, but I’ve got a lot of ideas of where I can take the story. I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

Reviews for The Next Stage are still steadily coming in, and I’m happy to say that they’re still all 5-stars. I’ve also had a few ideas of where I might be able to take a possible prequel or sequel to this book, so keep an eye out for updates on that too.

Anyway, that’s it for the blog today. Hopefully, I’ll have more updates on Wednesday.

Distribution Woes

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by multiple people where else The Next Stage is available from as they don’t use Amazon.

I’ve spent some time looking into this and have found a few more places I’m going to make it available.

First off, it’s now on Lulu as an ePUB format. I’ve been through the process, and it all seems straight forward, quick simple and you can then put the downloaded file on your eReaders, whatever they may be.

As well as making The Next Stage available, I’ve also put Creatures up on the platform too so if you want a non-kindle version of that, you’re in luck!

I’m working on a few other distribution channels that I’ll update you on when they have been approved, but until then it’s just on Lulu and Amazon.

 In other writing-related news, I’m now just over 30,000 words into It’s All in the Eyes. As far as the story goes, it’s coming along nicely, if a little different from what I first envisioned. This is only the first draft, and usually, in my first draft, I just try to get to the story down into a relatively coherent manner. I leave fine-tuning for another draft along with editing and tweaking characters.

I still have no idea when this will release, but with the way it’s going, I’m hoping it won’t be as much of a gap as with The Next Stage and Creatures.

Below are the links for the Lulu publications;

The Next Stage

Creatures

I’ll update links on other pages in due course.

If you do buy a copy of either, please leave a review – good or bad- I appreciate all the feedback.

The Next Stage on Goodreads

Creatures on Goodreads