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!

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?

What To Write?

Being a writer sometimes means that you have to juggle your different ideas. I recently asked my fellow writers on Twitter how they decide which idea to work on;

I currently have around 9 ideas that are in various stages of development. Some are just a very basic idea, some have a number of notes written for them, and others have several chapters done.

I tend to flit between ideas often. If I have a new idea that I want to develop, I will spend some time working on that before continuing with previous ideas. Some stories come easier than others. For example, I got a bit stuck with my story It’s All in the Eyes, and then I had the idea for Blindsighted. I found the latter flowed smoother and quicker, and I could fully develop that into a release.

At the moment, I’m working on, And Then I Killed Her, which for now is coming freely. However, if I get stuck, I may move on to one of my other ideas.

Having said that, if I come up with a new idea – for example, I came up with an idea for a new story the other day that involves a homeless wizard – I may spend a few minutes writing a few sentences or jotting down the basic premise, but I won’t spend a great deal of time working on it.

Some books, like The Next Stage 2 and Creatures 2, are coming off the back of a previous entry, so I have a few ideas bouncing around of where I can take the story, but because – in my mind – they have to live up to the book that came before I spend a bit more time figuring things out. Creatures 2 is around halfway written, but I got a little stuck and decided that I would move on to something else rather than struggling with it.

It can be a blessing and a curse to have a lot of ideas bouncing around. On the one hand, it’s great because you’ve always got something to work on if you have issues with a current WIP. But on the other, it can be a pain because I want to work on several at a time. For example, I’m really excited about my wizard story, but my current serial killer WIP is going so well that I don’t want to stop writing it if I lose my flow.

As I’ve found from asking folks on Twitter, everyone has a different way of figuring out which story they will work on at any given time. As with many things, what works for one, might not work for you, so find your own method.

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!

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.

Reviews Are In…

…well the first one is anyway.

It’s been a slow burn release but Blindsighted is starting to get out there. Sales are low, but Kindle Unlimited pages are coming in quicker and the other day I had my first review over on Goodreads – and it was a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. It was also a text review which I always enjoy reading. It’s nice to see what people thought about your novel, whether there is a particular scene that they enjoyed or even if there were any issues they could see. It’s nice to have that input from readers to help me grow as a writer.

When The Next Stage was released, it garnered a high number of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews for the first couple of months which kept its average at the maximum for quite some time. I’m not expecting the same with Blindsighted, but it would be nice to see some more good reviews come in soon.

As I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m not doing any writing at the minute as we put all our energy into our house move. We get our keys today and I’m hoping that we can get everything sorted in the next couple of weeks so I can get back to writing and trying some other things – more information on what I’m planning will come soon.

Our house move has been going on for almost a year, and we’ve spent that long living out of boxes. We can’t wait to get everything sorted, so we can get back to living our lives.

So while you’re waiting for more book stuff from me, you can catch up with my novels by buying them over on Amazon or by using your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

While we wait for the call to come in about picking up keys, we’re trying to keep our minds occupied by playing Stardew Valley. The co-op is really great, and I’ll be doing a blog about it soon.l, so keep an eye out for that.

That’s all for today. I hope you have a good weekend and if you’d like to see updates on our house move watch my Twitter and Instagram as well as our house Instagram.

Blindsighted Release Day!

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

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

Below you can find the books description:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing: To First Drafts and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to everyone for their input into this post.