A New Way of Writing (For Me)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story (Part II)

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


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

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again

NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?

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


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

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

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

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

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

Books I’ve Read This Year (Reviews)

Books, books, books. Books everywhere. They’re on bookshelves, in drawers, on my phone and my Kindle, and yet so far this year, I’ve read nowhere near as many books as I would have liked to from my list. This is because of a few reasons, some being writing my own stuff, gaming and reviewing and now going to University. That being said, since I’ve started uni, I’ve managed to get a few books under my proverbial belt, and in this blog, I will be talking about some of those, and although I’ve had issues with some of them, I would recommend each and every one to you, a fellow reader. The below books, by excellent authors, are ones that you have to check out.

Just as a side note, I’m not used to reviewing books so these are a little short. I’m hoping once I start doing them I can do more detailed ones.


Dear Annabelle by Scout Dawson

Five years before his wife’s death, a grieving widower made a promise to his beloved Annabelle that he would paint the “real” her, to immortalize her image forever. Drowning in grief, he commits to his promise, but the cost of perfection is greater than he could have imagined.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dear Annabelle is a gothic tale the likes of Edgar Allan Poe. The imagery created in this macabre short story is exquisite in its excellence. It’s a quick read and one every lover of Gothic horror needs to read.


Nevada Noir by David Arrowsmith

In these three dark and brooding short stories, set in and around the US state of Nevada, a cast of disparate characters struggle with greed and temptation, and the cursed lure of easy money… an old man goes in search of his son in the aftermath of a terrible storm, a couple down on their luck make a life-changing discovery and an ex-cop has one last impossible decision to make

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This trilogy of dark stories are expertly woven into noir tales of greed, struggle and temptation. Each story stands on its own as it follows its respective characters through their struggle, with each one being linked in some way to the others. I read this as part of my kick with short stories, and I wasn’t disappointed. My one minor qualm is that I would love to have seen these characters more and perhaps have a little bit more to each story. But despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed Nevada Noir, and I’d recommend it to any lover of dark, gritty tales.


Early Adopters: Rogue Elements by D.T. Wilby

They thought they were going to save the world…

Maybe someday.

First they need to save themselves.

Over a decade ago, a group of misfits underwent genetic editing under the auspices of scientific research. They thought they could make a difference. They thought they were going to be superheroes, but MiliTech turned them into their own living, breathing weapons.

Outside of their honeymoon period, they are disavowed and relentlessly pursued by their creators. Disparate, they do the best they can to stay one step ahead, stay out of each other’s way and maybe do a little good where they can.

But as MiliTech’s net closes in, these Early Adopters need to make a choice – will they keep on running forever or will they take a stand? Can they work together to free a forgotten hero from a golden age, or will they just make everything worse all over again?

The age of gods and monsters is upon us as the Early Adopters Universe begins in Early Adopters: Rogue Elements – an anthology of nine entangled stories developing into a single explosive narrative. An action packed love letter to science fiction comics and graphic novels.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Dark Twist on the Suberhero Genre. Going into this book I’d already read the “Star Crossed” short story that is a part of this collection, and it made me want to read more of this universe.
In this collection, each story is separate compelling read with we’ll crafted characters and environments but at the end they all link togther into an intertwined and tense finale.
Wilby has a firm grasp on his universe and leads you through it with a dark vision.
I look forward to reading more about these characters and settings.


Kerwall Town by S.D.Reed

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated 70s’ town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. As tensions rise and the inhabitants reach breaking point the question is raised: is it Kerwall’s newcomers draining its inhabitants or are they simply slipping through the cracks which have existed all along. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.
Will Kerwall ever be safe, or is the whole town trapped in the grasp of these outsiders?

Warning: DO NOT ENTER ALONE. Drag someone with you and if you are unable make sure to leave with your sanity in tact.

This nod to classic horror will leave you feeling as isolated as every character, constantly checking over your shoulder until the very last pages. Beginning the universe in which Reed’s future novels will take place, Kerwall Town demonstrates the scope of genres which can be expected from him going forward.

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

An absolutely riveting read, this book draws you into the town of Kerwall from the very first page in a very Kind-esque manner. The world and characters are so intricately crafted that you believe that you are a guest in the town and are walking it’s streets.
The plot is a slow boil with many a creepy scene that keep you reading.
My one criticism and why I didn’t give this excellent book 5 stars, is that the ending appears and disappears so quickly. The book builds up to a conclusion that doesn’t give the rest of the story justice and, for me, it fell a but flat.
Having said this however I would recommend that you visit Kerwall and enjoy your stay, while you can.


Thank you to all the wonderful authors out there that continue to put their work out there. I know that it’s not easy at times but you persevere despite that. Thank you.

Making Time to Write

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleepless in Wigan

Well it’s another Monday, so it’s another start of uni week. I’m going into this week a little behind on sleep.

In my post on Friday, I talked about how we would be picking up the new member of our family – an 8 week old German Shepherd – on Saturday. Well, Saturday came and we’ve had our new pup for a couple of days. The good news is that she seems to be settling into her new home really well, the bad news comes at night.

We’ve spent the past couple of nights downstairs with the little bean, so if she needs to go out, we can get her out – all part of her training. This is all very well in practice until it comes to 2 am and she anta to go out. It’s not that’s the issue, but that she gets her giddy head-on when she comes back in, so we have to spends some time tiring her out again with playtime.

But like I said, she’s doing really well and even responded to her name (Athena) at one point last night. She’s a good girl when she’s not attacking feet, ankles or the bottom of trousers.

She’s had loads of visitors over the past couple of days, and everyone loves her, and she’s quite happy to be fussed by anyone.

Today is the first day I’m going out, and although I know that she will be fine with Alex, I’m still going to miss the little nutter.

Here are a few of the probably many photos we’ve taken so far.

Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Where Does Inspiration Strike You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week!

Publishing: It’s Your Decision

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen an increase in people talking down to or just downright insulting those of us that self-publish our books. I don’t understand this mentality. There are many reasons why someone might choose to self-publish their work and several different ways that they can do it. None of these reasons means that they are any less of a writer or that they deserve to be talked down to or treated like crap.

For me, self-publishing was always the way I was going to go. So when I wrote Creatures, publishing using KDP seemed like the logical choice. It was my first book and something that I just wanted to get out into the world. I didn’t fancy spending hours trying to bag an agent or a traditional publisher, and it meant that I could have more creative control over the story, look and feel of the novel. Yes, there is a lot of work required for marketing your self-published book, but even that is nothing compared to querying multiple places.

Creatures did alright going the self-publish route, so when it came to my next novel, The Next Stage, it was a no brainer, really. Even though I knew that this was a better novel than my previous one, I still wanted to have complete creative control over my work.

Being a traditionally published author doesn’t mean that your work is any better than those that choose the self-publish route. I’ve read some brilliant self-published stories just like I’ve read some shite traditionally published ones.

Editing of self-published books is another thing that has been dragged through the dirt. Many self-published authors do so without any financial backing. They have to do everything from writing, editing, cover creating and marketing themselves. Sometimes things slip through the cracks editing -wise. I get less annoyed by errors in a self-published book than I do when finding them in traditionally published books that have professional editors behind them. Plus, the good thing about self-publishing your book is that if you or someone else spots an error, it’s a simple case of editing your manuscript and re-uploading it, whereas God knows what it would take to change a traditionally published book.

I’m not mentioning any names, but one person in particular on Twitter has been kicking up a stink recently and trying to rip self-published authors to shreds. However, when I looked into their publishing, they’re using a hybrid publisher. A hybrid publisher is a publishing house that wants you to pay and do all the work, but they take credit for the work. In other words, you pay for the privilege of being a self-published author. In simpler terms, you get ripped off! Maybe this method works for some people, but it seems too dodgy to me. It certainly doesn’t give you the right to piss all over other people’s hard work. I got an offer from a hybrid publisher for The Next Stage, but I didn’t have £3000 – and wasn’t willing – to throw at them to basically do nothing

I guess what I’m trying to say in this blog post is simply this; stop being a dick. People have reasons why they take the route they take with their work, and it’s not for anyone else to comment on.

I’ve had it said to me that self-published authors aren’t real authors and couldn’t get traditionally published if they tried. The thing is…I don’t want to try. I’m happy – as are many other people – with the way that I publish, so I say again; stop being a dick.

This post turned into a little more of a rant than I originally planned, but I get fed up of idiots gatekeeping being an author. If you write, you’re an author. Whether you publish your work or just have it in a notebook that only you look at. Don’t let anybody tell you what route to go with your work. At the end of the day, it’s your time and effort that’s gone into it, so do with it as you see fit.

Whichever way you decide to publish your works, remember one thing – don’t be a dick.

Ghostly Occurrences in Apartment 42: Part XIII

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII

Part VIII

Part IX

Part X

Part XI

Part XII

Part XIII


In last week’s post, I finished going through the YouTube videos and all that I experienced whilst recording them. I also talked about why I stopped filming. This doesn’t mean that things stopped happening however.

I would see and hear things around the flat daily, but because of being scratched and fearing for what else this unknown entity could do, I no longer wanted to film anything.

Several visitors to the apartment would also experience things from shadows and noises to cold spots as time went on. But there wasn’t anything that felt as bad as that night did.

This would change, however, when Alex moved in with me.

I didn’t wait long before I showed her the videos and explained everything that had been happening. She freely admitted that although she didn’t think I had any reason to make it up, she didn’t necessarily believe me, that is until things started to happen to her.

It wasn’t long before she started to see shadows similar to the ones I’d seen – in the corner of rooms and at the front door.

In summer – a few months after she’d moved in – she was going for a late-night cigarette at the Juliet balcony. When she came back into the bedroom, she asked if I had just been out and stood in the doorway. I told her I hadn’t moved, and she explained what had happened. While she was stood at the doors, she heard footsteps on the carpet behind her and saw someone stood in the doorway. She said that it felt like someone was watching her. It was like I had come out of the bedroom, stood at the door to the lounge for a few seconds and then went back to bed. The feeling that she had lined up with the way that I had felt on numerous occasions. This was just the start of things.

In the night, we both started to see a shadow in the bedroom just behind the door. It wasn’t just a shadow; it looked like it had some substance. When a car would pull into the car park that was behind the flat, headlights would shine into the room, but they wouldn’t light up the shape. It was as if the blackness just absorbed the light. This shape would appear nightly and would move to the front door if we left the bedroom to go to the bathroom. Over the following weeks, this shadow would move closer to the bed and eventually would be stood by the bookcase right at the end of the bed. This closeness left us with a feeling of being watched by something intrusive.

One night when we were both asleep, I awoke to the sound of Alex shouting. I was pretty out of it after taking my meds, but I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she had woken up to seeing something over me. When she described it, she said it was a person with white eyes and their mouth hanging open – she kept repeating white eyes. I didn’t feel anything, and I couldn’t wake myself up, so I ended up going back to sleep. The next day she told me all about what she had seen. She explained that it was a person that she could still picture. It was hovering above me with its mouth wide open and had bright white eyes. She said that when she saw it, her fight or flight had kicked in and she was ready to fend off a person in our flat. When she had shouted out, she said that the thing turned its head to look directly at her and then slowly retreated down the bed and faded away into the darkness of the room. To this day, she can still picture the thing that was over me. I wish I had been more awake or that I had seen it too. I’d never had anything so clear. The only person who had seen an actual face was my friend Mark.

This night left an impression on Alex, and she started to experience a lot more strange occurrences. Like me, she would be in the bathroom having a shower and would see shadows on the other side of the curtain. One time she heard a hard banging on the bathroom door; thinking I was back from work, she called out to me, but there was no answer. The front door was locked, so no one could have got in.

By now, I wasn’t really experiencing all that much. I would occasionally see the shadow behind the front door if I got up in the night or the shape at the end of the bed, but nothing to the scale of what I had previously had.

We both were now of the impression that since the night she had seen the thing over me, that whatever this was now knew that she was there and had started to lock more onto her.

The next thing that would happen would freak Alex out to the point where she nearly left the flat.

One wintery evening, when she had got back from work, Alex was sat on the bed reading her phone in the dark, when she saw something move at the end of the bed. When she went to investigate, she saw that one of our giant microbes had moved off the bookcase. It was on the lower shelf and couldn’t have just rolled off. She had seen it enter her eye line before it fell to the floor. When she looked at the corner of the room, she could see the shape blocking the doorway – by this point, an oppressive feeling was emanating from it. Using her foot, she lifted the microbe back up onto the shelf. She quickly put the torch on her phone and made a dash for the door, and ran to the lounge, putting lights on as she went. She then called me. I was at work but was coming to the end of the day. I could hear the fear in her voice, so I left work without a second thought and made my way home. On my journey, we spoke on the phone, and by the time I got home, I half expected her to be sat in the car park. But when I got back, she was seated in the lounge.

When things like this had happened before, I could feel it when I entered the flat, but this time everything felt normal. I said hello to Alex and quickly went into the bedroom. When I turned the light on, the microbe was back on the floor and was now a few feet away from the bookshelf. I called Alex and asked about it, and that’s when she told me about putting it back. I picked I up and put it back on the shelf again. I could see that Alex was visibly shaken by what had happened. It certainly felt like it knew she was here now. This being said, things seemed to quieten down for a bit, with only the usual shadows being seen.

A few months later, we were having a drunken music night in the lounge after spending the day packing, ready for our imminent move. The night was foggy, and still, there wasn’t even the sound of cars outside. It had gotten quite late, and I went to the bathroom while Alex had a cigarette at the patio doors. When I left the room and passed the spare room, I heard a rustling noise coming from the centre of the room where we had stacks of boxes. Paying this no mind, I went into the bathroom. A few seconds later, there was an almighty noise. I thought that someone in the flat upstairs had slammed a door. When I came out of the bathroom, it was dark. It was then that I noticed that the door to the lounge was shut. I opened it up and saw Alex stood at the balcony. When I asked what happened, she told me that the door had just slammed. Now, when I left the room, I had opened the door wide and left it that way. There was no reason that we could see why the door slammed with such force. There was no breeze outside as it was foggy, and neither of us was near it. I remembered the noise from the spare room. It was as if something had seen us split up and wanted to keep us separate. I went to the spare room and closed the door. After that, we were on edge, and it felt like something was there with us.

A few nights later, we were watching a film in bed when we heard some pots rattle in the kitchen. We sat for a moment, stunned by the noise before we went to investigate. We couldn’t see anything out of place, but we sat for a bit and talked. Then, as we were in the lounge, I saw a bright white light seemingly pass through the hallway. I turned to Alex to ask her about it, but I knew that she’d seen the same thing I had without her saying anything. When we saw this, we didn’t get the oppressive feeling we’d had before, though.

As I said, we were in the middle of packing boxes ready for our move. Years earlier, I had bought some magnetic words and letters for the fridge – the kind that you can make poems and sentences with. We had taken all these off the fridge, put them in a sandwich bag and put that in a box. One day we were making food in the kitchen. We had been to and from the fridge multiple times. At one point, I went to get a drink and saw that right in the middle of the fridge door was one of the magnetic words. It was an ‘a’. I asked Alex about it, and she said she hadn’t noticed it either. We spent a while trying to work out where it had come from. It can’t have been left there, and it can’t have been dropped on the floor and somehow stuck itself back up there. It was dead centre on the top door of the fridge – we couldn’t explain it. But it felt like it was a message. That whatever this was knew Alex was here and had turned its attention to her.

On our last night in the apartment, we had packed everything up and to make things easier for moving in the morning; we had dismantled the bed. The mattress was heavy, so we dropped it on the floor, and instead of moving it to someplace different, we slept on it where it was. At some point during the night, Alex told me that she woke up to feel that the duvet was no longer covering one of her legs and something about it felt weird. She didn’t pay much attention to this, though and soon went back to sleep. It was a long day the next day, and by the time we had moved all of our belonging over to our new house, we were shattered and in need of a shower. I had mine first, and then Alex had hers. When she did, she shouted to me and told me to come and look at something. During her shower, she had noticed something on the inside of her thigh. When I looked at it, it looked like a handprint, and when I matched my hand up to it, you could see the fingers and palm prints. We had no idea how this could have happened. It was in an awkward place, and for a hand to leave that kind of bruise, it would have had to have hit it with some force. A chill went through us both. This felt like a parting gift from whatever lived with us in Apartment 42.

This ends the strange occurrences that happened to myself and others in Apartment 42. However, because of all that happened, we have since thought of contacting the current occupiers to ask if they’ve had anything like this happen. We haven’t done this so far.

For me, it’s a comfort to know that friends, family and other tenants in the same building experienced things. But it doesn’t explain what went on. And to this day, I’m still not sure what to make of it all.

What are your thoughts on my experiences?