Inspiration: A Ghost Story

What inspires you?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my fellow writers over on Twitter where they get their inspiration from for their writing, and although answers varied, a number of them did come up with similar answers. Mainly TV, movies, games and music.

I’ve talked before about how some of my writing has been inspired by dreams that I’ve had. Creatures, in particular, was heavily influenced by a dream I had, and it’s what got me writing in the first place.

However, my most recent work, Blindsighted, was influenced more by my experiences of places, people, and events.

Without spoiling the story for those that have read it, I want to talk about one event in particular that happened at my junior school.

Blindsighted is a ghost story at heart, and the experience that inspired a particular scene still lingers in my mind to this day.

Back in my old junior school, there was a story about a man that haunted a certain room.

The story went that a man was fixing the room one day when he slipped and fell off. However, he wasn’t killed from the fall, but some slate slipped off the roof and struck him in the head after he landed.

After his death, he had been seen on the balcony that overlooked the main assembly hall and also in and around one of the classrooms.

The classroom in question was across the assembly hall and was next to one of the boys’ toilets. This part of the school was always dark. The classroom was used for music lessons and wasn’t always in use, so more often than not, the place was in darkness. I remember avoiding this place wherever possible and never going through there on my own. But one day I had no choice.

I was in a lesson on the light side of the assembly hall and needed to go to the bathroom. I knew that I couldn’t be too long, so I couldn’t go to the toilets that were on the other side of the school. I had no choice but to go to the ones near the music room.

I asked permission to go and started to make my way to the bathroom. I stopped at the doors to the assembly hall, which was in total darkness because it wasn’t in use. I couldn’t turn the lights on; otherwise, someone would come and tell me off, so I slowly opened the door and started across the hall.

As I walked, I kept my eyes on the opposite doors and could see a tiny sliver of light coming from one of the windows in the music room (this was never enough to light it properly.) I don’t know if it was because it was dark and I was young and impressionable, but I felt like I was being watched. As if someone was stood on the balcony above me, watching my every move.

As I pushed open the set of doors – which, of course, creaked eerily – and stopped, ready to bolt if something was there. After a minute or so, I knew I had to get moving, so I made my way into the bathroom.

Inside I used the toilet (they were all in cubicles) and laughed at myself for thinking there would be a ghost.

As I flushed the toilet, I thought I heard the doors go. I wasn’t sure if I heard right because of the sound of the flush. I remember standing there in the quiet for a bit, wondering if there were would be any other noise – if someone else had come in, there would be sounds of them moving about.

After standing there in silence and internally laughing at myself again, I turned and left the cubicle. As I washed my hands, I heard a shuffle behind me – there were no mirrors in this bathroom, so I couldn’t look up and see. Something made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I cautiously turned around.

I then saw something that I can never forget.

Stood in the corner opposite me was a man. He had his back to me, but I could see he was wearing overalls and looked kind of shabby. I didn’t know what to do; I just knew that he shouldn’t have been there. I looked up at his head (I was much shorter back then) and could see something sticking up out of his head.

The door was on the opposite wall, a few feet left of the figure. As much as I didn’t want to move, I knew I had to get out and back into the light of the corridor on the other side of the assembly hall.

I ran. I don’t know how quickly I got out of there, but I was out of breath by the time I got into the hall.

I could see the lights on the other side of the door and darted for them. I didn’t turn around, but I felt like someone was walking behind me.

When I got to the other corridor, and was thankfully back in the light. I got on my tiptoes and looked through the small window in the door. I could see across to the other set of doors, but I couldn’t see the thin bit of light from the music room window. It was being blocked out by someone standing just behind the doors.

I calmed myself down some and went back to class.

I never used those toilets again and only went to the music room when I was with other people for a lesson.

Now I know there are many people out there who will dismiss this as the overactive imagination of a pre-teen child. But I know what I saw and experienced. The entire thing was terrifying and enough so that it sticks with me to this day. I’ve had other haunting experiences, but this one, because I was so young, just seems the worst by far.

When writing the scene in Blindsighted that relates to this experience, I tried to get across the feeling of fear that I felt when I was a child and saw what I saw.

There are other things in the book that I’ve pulled in from childhood memories, but nothing as scary as seeing the man with a piece of slate in his head.

I hope you enjoyed this little story, and I hope when you read Blindsighted that this will give you more insight into how I wrote that scene.

 Have you written anything about any experiences that you’ve had in life?  – not just ghostly things but anything.

What inspires your writing?

 

 

 

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!

Blindsighted: A New Book on the Way

Welcome to another week

I started writing what became Blindsighted when I was trying to get back into writing after being unable to get going on anything when struggling with my mental health. Starting a new story really helped me get back into writing and calm my brain, which at the time was going a million miles a second with all the bad things I could possibly think of.

I got maybe around a third of the way into the story I wanted to write before deciding to stop and get back going with The Next Stage.

Up until that point, I’d struggled to edit TNS and the chore of going through it multiple times and editing was too much for me to handle. However, this time, I got into it, and I didn’t stop working on it until it was released back in October 2020.

When I’d released TNS, I started work on a story that I’ve had in my head for years; It’s All in the Eyes (you may have seen me mention it in other blogs.) I got a fair way into this story when, for whatever reason, I hit a wall. I felt like I was just writing for the sake of it and wasn’t really adding anything to the story. As much as I wanted to finish it, I didn’t want to rush it and mess it up – the story has been in my head for years; I don’t think it’s going anywhere. This was when I picked Blindsighted back up.

When I started on Blindsighted again, I had the story that I wanted to tell, so it didn’t take me long to finish it and once again be back to editing.

I’ve mentioned before that editing isn’t my favourite process involved in writing. It’s not that I find it hard to do – well, it is, but I find it hard mentally. Editing doesn’t engage my brain as much as concentrating on actually writing a story. The process of guiding a character around their world is much more satisfying and involved than going through something that’s already written and just needs proofreading.

But, as much as I struggle with this, and after four digital and one paperback proof readthrough, Blindsighted is finally ready for release.

I’ve set a date of 14th April 2020 – so, next Wednesday – for release. In theory, I could release it now, but I’m trying to get a little bit of buzz going beforehand.

A Goodreads page for the book has been set up, and I’ve been sharing the link on social media for those that like to add things to their TBR list. I’ll share it here, too, just in case you’ve missed it. Click the logo below to be taken there.

In between the release date and now, I’ll be working on another story. As The Next Stage has been received so well, I’ll be working on the sequel. This is provisionally titled, The Next Stage 2 – catchy, huh?

For now, though, we’re spending the day trying to do a low chaos run through of Dishonored…we can do this!

Have a good week all.

The Editing Struggle

When the week started, I was determined to get the paperback proof copy of Blindsighted edited, but it so far hasn’t happened for one reason or another. I’ve managed to get around three quarters the way through it, but the past couple of days haven’t been very productive.

I find editing a difficult thing to do when my head isn’t 100% in it. Generally, I don’t mind the process, it’s a necessary evil and is a critical process in writing a book, but when my head is having an off day, I just can’t get going with it.

Writing is something that helps me get through some bad days. The act of creating and engaging with the characters and worlds calms my brain and gives me something good on which to focus. With editing, though, I don’t get that.

As I’m going through something that I’ve already been through multiple times, nothing new is grabbing my attention and focus. I find my mind drifting and thinking about other things more often, and I end up missing things that need to be altered or corrected, which, in the end, will only harm the story.

As much as I want to get this draft completed – I think it will be the last – I don’t want to rush it, miss things and then put it out into the world only for people to pick up on my mistakes.

If I could afford to hire an editor, I would do, but as it stands, I don’t have the money available to me to do so. So, for now, I have to do the bulk of the work.

I’m really pleased with how Blindsighted has turned out; it’s very different from my last book, The Next Stage. It’s been good to write a different story genre, from something that was heavily sci-fi to this paranormal horror is a welcome change.

I don’t know what genre I want to write at the minute, or even if I want to stick to just one, I think I may end up being more of a multi-genre author. Of course, for that to happen, I need to get Blindsighted released.

I haven’t set a specific date for release as I don’t want to rush things and put more pressure on myself than I already do. I’ve said before that I’m hoping to release in the next couple of months, but if I set a date, I will probably only beat myself up if I don’t meet the deadline. There’s no rush, and it’ll be out when it’s out. My mental health is more important than publishing a book. I need to make sure that I keep my brain happy; everything else will come in time.

Reading this blog back, I can see it’s a little bit all over the place. I’m struggling even to type this, if I’m honest. So, that being said, I’ll leave things here for now and get back to trying to edit.

Have a good weekend.

Planning Your Writing

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the way that I write and the preparations and planning that I do for a story. I also asked some of my fellow authors on Twitter how they write;

I’ve written two books now, with several others in progress and I realised that I haven’t really done all that much planning of how the stories are going to go.

With The Next Stage I had my corkboard with its map and post-it notes but this was mainly so I could trace the paths that the characters took and the times at which different events occurred around the city. As far as actually planning the route a story is going to take, I do very little.

With TNS I would occasionally write one or two words for what I thought was going to happen, but this wasn’t really a set-in-concrete guide it was merely an idea as to how it could go. When I’m writing I pretty much just type and see where it takes me. I may have a rough idea of the story I want to tell, but unlike some authors I don’t have an ending in mind. I may have a key line – maybe dialogue or a description – that I want to try to write but that’s about it.

I’m now going through my paperback proof draft of Blindsighted and I’m still chopping and changing things. A few weeks ago I decided to change the perspective from third to first-person. I hadn’t planned for this and I thought that it might involve rewriting the entire story but thankfully it wasn’t as much work as I had envisioned. If I had planned the story ahead of time I might have decided to do this sooner as I may have seen that with this type of story the first person perspective would add to the atmosphere.

I’ve not written anything in first-person yet. Most of my WIPs are written where I do a different character for each chapter as I follow them around, whereas Blindsighted is written around one character – an eleven year old boy.

The only reason I can think of for not planning where a story is going to go ahead of time is that I like the whole process of writing and seeing where my typing takes me. It’s almost as if the world is being created in that moment, it’s all new and fresh and anything could happen. Characters appear from nothing and enter the ever changing world.

For other writers this might not be something they do. They may plan out every little detail ahead of time or just plan out the bare-bones of it. The purpose of these blogs is to show how different writers have different methods pertaining to their writing process. What works for one, may not work for others.

This isn’t to say that I’ve never tried to plan. When I first started working on The Next Stage I began with a single sentence and then attempted to figure out what characters were like and what the futuristic Washington D.C. they inhabited was like. I only got a little way into this before I got frustrated and wanted to start writing the story. I told myself that I would write a bit and then go back to planning, but alas, I never did. But this I think worked in my favour as my method led to The Next Stage being received amazingly well by readers despite my slap-dash technique.

This method works for me. I’m sure it will evolve over time and I may start to plan more things. But at the moment this is the way that I write. Part of the fun of writing is finding out your method and what works for you. But reading and hearing about what other writers do might inspire you try something new or adapt the method and tailor it to your writing style.

As I interact more with the writing community I’m learning more and more and although I’m still at the start of my writing career but I like to pass on anything that I’ve learned or how I work to others and hope that they in turn will pass on their knowledge to others.

Well, that’s my ramble for today. I’m going to head back to my editing so I can hopefully release Blindsighted very soon.

Have a good week all.

Paperback Proof Editing: Blindsighted

It’s that time once again. Time to go through a paperback proof copy of my next book – in this case, it’s Blindsighted.

I did this with my last book, The Next Stage, and it really helped me pick up on some errors that I had missed entirely when going through my digital drafts.

When I go through it, I spend my time highlighting things that I want to change and mark the pages with little sticky notes, so it’s easier for me to find what I need to alter on the digital version.

At this time with TNS, I was almost ready for release, and I’m at that same stage with Blindsighted.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to go through the paperback proof, so I still don’t have a firm release date, but I’m hoping that it will be some time in the next couple of months – so stay tuned for further updates.

At this time, it’s probably a good idea to share with you what Blindsighted is all about and show you the cover.

Description:

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?

Cover:

Friday Restday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Third Draft Continued

It’s Monday again, which means I’m back to going through my latest draft of Blindsighted.

Last week, I decided to change the style from third-person to first-person and as much work as that’s created for me, I feel it was the best decision.

It now feels a little more personal, and for the story, I’m telling, first-person works so much better than I third. I’m hoping that it will allow the readers to get a little closer to the main character and feel what he’s going through.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, writing in this style is a first for me. I usually follow several characters, but for Blindsighted, I’m only following the one. The MC is called Nathan, and he’s an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his mother. The story follows him as he and his mum move into a new house, and he starts to have strange experiences. I don’t want to go into the story too much as I’m yet to write and reveal the blurb. I’m hoping that once this draft is finished, I can spend some time writing it, and then I’ll give you more of an overview of what the story is about.

As it stands, I’ve got just under 100 pages to edit, and I’m going to try, this week, to get this draft finished. Of course, whenever I say things like this, there’s always something that will come up. We’ve already got someone coming in to fix the bath today and a new bed being delivered on Wednesday, but I’m hoping that I can work my way through the remainder of the draft even with these distractions.

I hope that your work has started well and continues on the same path.

Have a good week.

Changing Perspectives

So, over the weekend, I had a thought…

I’m currently going through draft number three of Blindsighted, and over the weekend, I had an idea for something that would perhaps make the story work a little better. This idea means that I not only have to edit the story but also to change it from reading from a third-person perspective to a first-person one.

I don’t know where this thought came from, but it’s something that I can’t get out of my head now, so I have to at least give it a go.

Writing from a first-person view is something that I’ve, so far, not done. My two released books have both been third-person and have followed the style of having each chapter about rotating characters.

For example;
Chapter 1 > Character 1
Chapter 2 > Character 2
Chapter 3 > Character 3
Chapter 4 > Character 1
Chapter 5 > Character 2
Chapter 6 > Character 3
And so on…

So writing from a first-person is going to be a new challenge for me. But, as Blindsighted follows a single character with everything being seen from his view, it makes sense that this one is done in this style.

I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but I’m more than willing to give it a go if it’s going to make the story better. Of course, this may mean that my release date is pushed back a little way, but I don’t want to send it out there if I’m not completely happy with it.

Keep everything crossed for me that this turns out okay.

I’ll also try this week to finally get my description/synopsis/blurb done. I’ve written a few different versions but I’m not overly happy with any of them so far. Maybe if the change of perspective works out, it’ll help me with this too.

For now, I’m going to throw myself into this challenge I’ve set for myself.

No One is Going to Steal My Sweetroll (Recipe)

Skyrim. Is there any place where I have spent more time slaying dragons, raiding towns and trying to find a woman named Lydia?

It’s a huge game with a lot going for it even a decade after its release. in this blog I’ll be showing you how to make one of the most well-known deserts in the land; a sweetroll. You will no longer have to cry because someone stole yours, because now you can make your very own.

This is what they look like in-game;

Appetising eh? Scroll to the bottom to see how ours turned out. If you don’t want the spoiler then just keep on reading.

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 50g raspberry jam
  • 2tbsp Chambord liqueur (optional)

For the Glace icing:

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 15ml milk of your choice
  • Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Method:

  • STEP 1 – Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan. Grease your bundt tin until fully coated and set aside. Combine the butter and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until creamed.

*Note*If you’re using the Chambord; add this to the mixture now. If you don’t want to use the liqueur then you can add the equivalent amount of extract of your choice in it’s place.

  • STEP 2 – Crack the eggs into a smaller mixing bowl or jug and beat until combined. Beat a third of the eggs into the cake mixture until combined. Then add around a third of the flour; folding it into the mixture rather than beating. This will retain the cake’s ability to rise so mix carefully! Continue alternating between eggs and flour until all have been combined.
  • STEP 3 – Place have of the mixture into the bundt tin and smooth it out. Once this is done, place the jam into a bowl and mix it until there are no big lumps of jam remaining. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it easier for the next step.
  • STEP 4 – Dot the jam around the bundt tin, almost so that it forms a ring on top of the smoothed mixture. Once all the jam has been added you can go ahead and pour the remaining mixture into the bundt tin on top.
  • STEP 5 – Smooth the mixture out again and then place in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted close to the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool before turning out of the tin.
  • STEP 6 – While waiting, enjoy a brew.
  • STEP 7 – Once the cake is freed from the tin you can ice it; combine the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract (if using) into a bowl and mix until completely smooth. If your mixture isn’t runny then add a splash more milk; if it’s too runny and very thin then add some more icing sugar.
  • STEP 8 – Once you’ve made your icing then go ahead and spoon it over the top of your cake, adding “drips” in various places to recreate the Skyrim Sweet Roll look. Once you’ve done this leave the icing to set so that it doesn’t go everywhere when you cut into it.
  • STEP 9 – Enjoy!

So that’s how to make your very own sweetroll. Ours didn’t last very long as it tasted amazing. I hope yours turn out just as good. If you do have a go, let me know how it turned out and maybe send me some pictures.

We did this when my brain wasn’t letting me write and the process of baking did calm my chattering mind. Not enough to allow me to write, but it did help. I hope it helps you too.