First Week Done and Dusted

Well I started this week an absolute bundle of nerves. I was worried about everything from getting on a train, to being around and meeting new people. But I have to say that now my induction week is over, I’ve really quite enjoyed uni so far. I spent the week meeting lecturers and students, finding out a bit more about my course and having a wander around campus.

One of my main worries was how I was actually going to get there. I eventually, and I’ll say, reluctantly opted for getting the train in each day. I was worried about this because I couldn’t even say when I’d last gotten on a train; I just know it was years ago. But after spending a week of going to a fro, I’ve realised that it’s not that bad. It probably would have been worse trying to drive in. At least with the train, I don’t need to worry about how I get there, where I can park and then remember where I’ve left my car. Plus, getting the train has given me an opportunity to catch up on some reading. I’ve already read a few short stories that have been on my to-read list for a while. For now, I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing.

Another thing I was anxious about was finding my way around. I’d already been given a little map, but I still thought I’d get lost. But I quickly realised that everyone else was in the same boat as me. Every single one of us was wandering around, trying to figure out where we should be. In the end, though, I’ve found it relatively easy to find my way around campus. Next week I’ll have to start again because my actual lectures are in different buildings to the ones I’ve been in this week, but I’m more confident that I’ll work it out.

Happily I’ve found a place where I can get coffee and a park I can either sit in or have a wander around when I need a break from the busyness of central campus.

I’ve met some really lovely people, both students and lecturers, and I already feel less alone than I did on Monday.

It will take me a while to get into my new routine, but I feel like I’m already well on my way to adjusting to all the change. I know that it’s not bad change, but historically I’ve never been very good with any kind of alteration to my life and routine.

Overall I feel a lot more positive about things now and am even more looking forward to getting stuck into my course.

Having said all this, after this week I’m absolutely knackered. It feels like it’s been a very long week with lots going on. I’m so very ready for the weekend.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and will have an even better weekend.

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.

The Joys of Physio

Yesterday I went for my monthly physiotherapy appointment. Over the last week or so my hip has felt a little worse than it has done and it’s felt like the exercises I’ve been given have just been irritating it. I mentioned it to my physio and he had to do his usual range of motion stuff and he told me that my hip is starting to seize up slightly. I’ve now been told to add some rolls into my exercises…It just gets more and more fun!

One good thing, though, is that I’m seeing the consultant on the 20th of September to hopefully discuss surgery. I feel like this has been dragging on for ages now, and I’m totally fed up with having to take pain meds multiple times a day. There are days that it really gets to me. If they’re still going to drag their feet with the surgery, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of having surgery fills me with so much anxiety that that alone sometimes tips me over the edge, but it’s either that or being in pain even longer; and if rather not be in pain any longer than I have to.

But, looking on the bright side, in further along with the whole thing than I was a few months ago, so there’s that.

This time next month I will have started university. I’m hoping that this will keep my mind occupied and away from my hip pain. I just hope that all the moving around won’t make things worse for me.

I’m trying to stay positive, but sometimes it’s hard. For now, I just have to throw myself into my writing and hopefully I’ll be getting my surgery before I know it.

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

University Nerves

Come September I’ll become a student for the first time since I was 17 as I head off to university to study creative writing.

I had my place confirmed several months back, but when this week I officially registered, it all became real; I’m actually going. Although I’m excited to go to uni and study something that I love doing, there’s still a part of me that’s very anxious about going.

I quit my job in IT back in May of 2020 as it was having an adverse effect on my mental health. After working in the industry for around 13 years, I had gotten to the point that I really didn’t want to work in IT for the rest of my life. I had started to resent it. It was a big step for me to take, as work had always been the one constant in my life, and it’s what got me through some tough times. So when it no longer helped, I felt lost.

I had no idea what I would do, but I knew that I wanted to give writing full time a try. However, there was always something in the back of my mind telling me that I’d probably end up having to go back into IT, even though I didn’t want to.

When it got to Christmas, I felt like I had to do something; otherwise, I’d spend my life feeling kind of worthless, so after discussing it with Alex, we decided that I should apply for uni.

Again, I didn’t want to do anything IT related; if possible, I wanted to do a course that would help me with my writing as I felt that I could really make a go of it. After browsing some courses online, we came across the creative writing one. After reading it, I was excited about the possibilities that it could create for me. I already loved to write, but I wanted to get better, so why shouldn’t I give the course a go.

I applied that night, but there was still a part of me that thought that I wouldn’t get in. Due to some pre-diagnosis struggles with my mental health back when I was doing my A-Levels, I didn’t get the best grades and thought this would hold me back as there would be someone better that could take my place.

I spent the next few months on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear back. Of course, I knew I would only hear after a certain date, but that didn’t stop me from checking the UCAS portal daily to see if there had been a response.

Pretty soon after the end date for applications had passed, I got an email offering me a conditional place. I didn’t know what this meant, but I already dreaded what I might have to do to get a confirmed place. Luckily, the only thing they wanted was a copy of my A-Level results and not long after I had sent this in, I had a full unconditional offer for a place. I couldn’t accept it quick enough – I’d done it.

There was still that annoying part in the back of my brain that was telling me that something would go wrong or that it had been a mistake, and they’d soon realise and rescind the offer. But they never did.

With my place confirmed, all I had to do was sit back and wait. I’d gotten my student finance sorted pretty quick, so now I just looked forward to starting.

So, here I am now, a month or so away from starting, and it’s hit me – I’m going to university. I never thought that I would ever have the chance after f!cking up my A-Levels so spectacularly and never having the confidence just to apply. This is one of the biggest things to happen to me in my life, and I still can’t believe it.

I don’t think the anxiety will leave me for a while yet. I know once I start, I’ll probably be fine; it’s just the anticipation and not knowing that kills me. It will all be new to me, and I’m never great with new things. But I want this so much that I’m willing to fight through the anxiety and my stupid brain to get where I want to go. I’m going to make the most of this opportunity that I never thought would happen.

Over the past few years, I’ve done several things that I never thought I would do, get engaged, write a book and now go to uni. Despite all the issues I still have to fight with, I feel that my life is actually going somewhere now, and I like it.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks putting together blog posts and continue work on, And Then I Killed Her, as I don’t know how much time I’ll have for these things when I start my course.

I leave you with this if there’s something that you’re thinking of doing but haven’t yet:

Rewrite!

Nothing like starting the day off with a Monty Python reference.

I’m starting today what I’ve been dreading and putting off for a week now; rewriting what I have of my current WIP, And Then I Killed Her.
I’m only around five chapters in, but I feel like the pace is off. Things are moving way too quickly, and the tension I’m trying to build just isn’t happening. I’ve got ideas of how to fix it, but it’s just felt way too daunting to start on. But I know I have to do it sooner or later, so I figure I just have to make a start on it and see how it goes.
What I’ve written is good, and I like it a lot; it just doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. And as I’ve moved the story along a little bit quicker than I expected, I’m unsure where to go next. I’m hoping that spending some time on it over the next week or so will get me back on track.

I still want And Then I Killed Her to be my next release, so whatever I have to do to it, I will; it might just take me a little longer than I had initially thought to get it finished. But these things happen and can’t be helped. I suppose it’s all part of my chaotic writing style. Maybe if I planned things out a little more, I wouldn’t run into these issues. Maybe…

With going to university in September, I want to try and get as much done on this novel as I can before my time is taken up by uni work. Perhaps all of this will help me prepare for uni and the course to come.

Back to it now, I guess.

Before I go, though, I just want to let you know that the Kindle versions of my novels The Next Stage and Blindsighted will be available for free over on Amazon this weekend. There’s no particular reason for this; I just want to get my books out there to as many people as possible.

Have a good weekend!

Another Friday Rolls Around

Damn, it’s been a hectic week.

I was at physio on Monday. It’s going quite well, and the physiotherapist is happy with my progress. However, he decided that the exercises that he had given me were now too easy, so he’s given me some harder ones and holy hell, are they harder. I struggle to do as many reps, but I can already feel them doing something. I’m hoping that this change means that I will soon no longer have to go to physio and that I will soon get my appointment to see the consultant and finally discuss surgery. Although the physio has helped me be more mobile, I’m still relying heavily on prescription painkillers, and I’d rather not have to take them for much longer. But I guess we’ll see.

Tuesday, I went over to my mum’s and spent the day with her, helping her to do some jobs around the house. Even though I’m not great at the minute, I still like to help her where I can. She’s not getting any younger, and I don’t like her struggling with things that I can do easily. It’s hard to think that my mum will be 70 next year. My brother and sister are useless, so I have to be the one that is there for her. I’m youngest; I should be the one that had disappeared into the ether. But yet, I’m the one holding the bag. I could rant all day about it, but I’ll leave it there.

Wednesday was spent doing the shopping and tidying up the house. I try to do as much as I can around the house, but I still hit a limit to what I can do much quicker at the moment than I ordinarily would do. The rest of the day, I spent playing Watch Dogs Legion.

Thursday, I spent writing this weeks blog – including this one. I don’t know what I did after that because I’ve not done it yet. I’ll probably play some more games that are review fodder, but I’ve not decided yet.

I’m hoping Friday will be a more relaxed day. But I’m not saying that too loud because if I do, something will happen to spoil it.

I’m still struggling some with my mental health, but the new medication is working, and I do feel a little better than I have been feeling over recent months. I know that this is all part of being bipolar, but it doesn’t make the ups and downs any easier to deal with. The medication can only do so much, and I still have to do a lot of work myself, but I’m getting there slowly.

I’m hoping that tomorrow I will be able to do some more streaming over on Twitch. Last Saturday, I did an epic run where I faced so truly odd enemies, but I kicked their ass to survive another day. I’ll stream around the same time (8 pm GMT), so if you’re free, why not join me.

That’s it for now. Have a good weekend!

My Current WIP: A Teaser

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen earlier this week that I revealed a little teaser for my latest WIP. It wasn’t much, but I wanted to show you at least something about what I’m working on.

And Then I Killed Her has been progressing quite well, until this week when I’ve not really been able to do a great deal on it for one reason or another. I’m hoping that this will change next week.

This story is something that came from a #vss365 writing prompt, and straight away, I knew that I had to write a full story. I don’t know if it’ll be a full-length novel or a short story yet; I need to see where it goes first before deciding. Either way, it will likely be the next thing that I publish, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

It’s a paranormal-horror-thriller (if that’s a thing), and in it, we follow Peter Finch, a serial killer whose latest victim just won’t stay dead.

I don’t want to reveal too much of it for now (mainly because I haven’t written it yet), but I’ve wanted to reveal something since I started writing it.

Below is the teaser video, and I hope to reveal more as I go – both on social media and on this website.

I hope I have piqued your interest enough for the moment, though.

Have a good weekend!

Fallout Baking: Buffout Cookies (Recipe)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a recipe post so I wanted to do something a little different.

A while ago I bought Alex The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook, which contains numerous recipes based on things from the Fallout games series. We had a flip through and I decided to make one of the biscuits – Buffout ones specifically. All credit for this recipe goes to Victoria Rosenthal, it has just been adapted slightly by me.

The recipe in the book works with cups as measurements, but as I’m British and don’t work with that I’ve converted them to grams, which is why they may seem a little random – but they do work so don’t worry.

Ingredients:

  • 128g of unsalted butter
  • 64g icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon of almond extract
  • 192g plain flour
  • 64g almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160°C
  • Combine butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl.

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  • Add vanilla and almond extract and mix.

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  • Add remaining ingredients and mix.

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  • Cover baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Take a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball in your hands.
  • Gently press the ball down on the greaseproof to form a large disc. With a knife cross the top of the biscuit.

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  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Put in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until set or until top is crispy.
  • Allow cookies to cool.
  • Enjoy.

Our Buffout biscuits ended up less green than the ones in the book appear to be, but they tasted amazing.

If you give these a go yourself, let me know how they turn out and what you think of them.

Stuck in a Depressive Episode

At the minute, I’m not feeling great. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been descending into a depressive episode, and I’m struggling to keep my head above water so that I can get out of it. This isn’t to say that I’m not happy in my life. I’ve got an amazing partner who does everything she can to make me happy, we’ve just moved to a beautiful house that we’re still in the process of making our own, and I have a lot of things going for me. But I can’t seem to bring myself out of the funk that my brain is putting me in for whatever reason.

I feel like I can’t do anything and that I’m just no good for anyone or anything. I’m not as bad as I have been in the past, and as much as I don’t see any point in me being around right now, I’m not feeling suicidal or anything, but unfortunately, I feel like it probably wouldn’t take a lot to make me feel that way.

I’m struggling daily just to get through and generally feel like I just want to spend my days in bed doing very little. But, I’m not doing. I’m getting up every day and doing whatever I can, no matter how little that is.

To help me through this time, Alex and I have created a schedule for me to give me some sort of routine. It’s not much, but it at least tells me what I should be trying to do that day. For example, today (I’m writing this on Monday) is a blog day, so I’ll be spending my day – working the same hours that Alex does – working on blog posts and trying to get ahead of the game.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be a writing day in which I will be working on my new WIP. I’ve not really spoken about my latest WIP all that much. In last week’s Friday blog, I said that I’m working on it and how much I’d written, but I’ve so far not revealed much else. I feel like I’m going to keep my cards a little closer to my chest than I have with previous novels and maybe only reveal some details when I’m a bit further on with it. However, I will say that it’s a bit different from my previous novels, and I’m really enjoying writing it.

On Wednesdays, I’m going to be working on game stuff. This might range from just playing stuff because I can or to review or even doing streams over on Twitch. I did my first proper stream at the weekend – I’ve finally got a set-up that allows me to use my camera and mic – and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know who watched it, but I had a few viewers, and it did a lot to help me keep my mind off the way that I’ve been feeling. I’m hoping that I can come up with a schedule that will allow me to do it on a more regular basis.

Thursday and Friday will be reserved for more writing. Writing does help me, although sometimes I struggle to get going, but when I do, I get lost in the story and characters. It’s a great way to get out of the depressed side of my head and create something that I can be proud of.

As of writing this, I’ve contacted the doctor and I’ve been given a new medication that’s been added to the ones I’m on already to hopefully help me through this tough time. As with every depressive or manic episode, there’s no telling how long it will last. I just need to try what I can to get through it and to the other side. I want to be positive as I know deep down that I have a lot that I can be thankful for and proud of, but at the moment, it’s hard to push past the part of my brain that’s telling me I’m just not good enough. I know it will get better; I just wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m just going to carry on with my schedule, adjust it if I need to, and get through this depressive episode the best I can.

I hope your week has been good and that you have a great weekend.

Friday Writing Update

So last Friday, I completely forgot to do a blog post. For most of the day, I was under the assumption that it was Thursday, so it didn’t cross my mind until later on in the day that I was meant to do a post. Anyway, today I’m just going to give a brief update on what I’ve been up to.

For the past week, I’ve been working on a new story. This one came about off the back of a VSS365 writing prompt post. I don’t want to give too much away, but the post can be seen below, and it might give a clue as to what type of story it is.

I’ve been trying to do the VSS prompt tweets daily again. I started to do them a while ago and then kind of fell out with them as I struggled to come up with anything to write. Recently, however, I’ve not had that issue, and I’ve been able to write a few sentences reasonably easy. I think doing these is partially why I’ve been able to get back into writing again. They’re helping me get my brain in the right place for being creative, plus I enjoy doing them. Most of my posts seem to follow a theme of horror or paranormal, which is fine, but I’ve also been able to relate some of them back to either released novels or ones I have in the pipeline, which also serves to give me more ideas of where I can go with them.

So far, my latest WIP is around 9000 words and counting, so it’s coming along pretty well. As usual, I’ve not done any real planning; I’m just typing and seeing where I end up. I’ve done some bits and pieces of research – i.e. Googling – to help me along my way, but most of it just flows from my brain.

As much as I want to work on some of my other WIPs, like The Next Stage 2, I just don’t know where I’m going with them. I don’t want to write for the sake of it and not do the story justice, so at this point, working on something new is the best thing for me to do.

Anywho, I’m going to get back to it now and see where the story takes me.

Have a good weekend.