*Insert Blog Post Here*

So, I haven’t written anything consistent in the last few months and nor have I done a blog post in ages. Getting back onto the horse can be tricky once you’ve been off it for a while and it’s annoying and frustrating. I’ve been very good at not beating myself up for falling off it in the first place, I took a necessary break from quite a few things, including my social media accounts in order to sort out the mental health issues I was having (for those playing at home I had a major depressive episode earlier this year and it took me a while to get back onto some sort of even keel).

That being said, it doesn’t make it any less disheartening to look at the stats on the writing app I have on my phone (Writeometer if you’re wondering, tell them I mentioned them and they might send me money – *laughs*) and see that it is now 77 days since i last posted a solid word count and it’s only been dribs and drabs since then. Most of that in truth has been re-writing. The raw font of creativity has not ushered out its goodness for a while and I’m starting to feel a bit anxious about it if I’m being totally honest. It’s not that I haven’t had thoughts or ideas – I still have plenty of those – it is more about …

The slip ‘twixt brain and page.

AKA getting the damn things out of my head and onto a page or a screen or a clay tablet or literally anything at this point. Which is why i am doing this post now, it’s like doing stretches before exercises or something, mostly just a train of thought that I’m going to put out onto the interweb for… reasons.

AND FOR MY NEXT ACT!

An inspirational blog post in four parts:

  • *Heartfelt personal anecdote*
  • *Piercingly insightful realisation*
  • *Encourage others to do the same*
  • *Pithy motivational one-liner*

I’m off to open Scrivener now and do the thing with the alphabet for the wordforming and the storymaking.

 

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The ‘Stolen’ Indie Anthology is released!

Back in March of this year I submitted a short story for a Charity Anthology being put together over on the Virulent Blurb website. The theme for the Anthology was Stolen and I was very pleased that my story “The Rort” was chosen for inclusion.

Today is exciting because that Anthology has now been released into the wild and is available for people to buy! It’s a particularly exciting day for me because this marks a personal milestone of being the first time that a story of mine will appear in print in a real book with an ISBN and everything.

The Anthology itself was aimed at giving a platform for new and independent writers, so my story sits side by side with 14 other Indie writers. It is a charity Anthology and as such all profits generated from it will go to  Children with Cancer UK, you can see their website and the work they do here.

So, today is release day and the book can now be bought. Anthology cover

It looks like this and is available on Amazon Kindle and also as a Print on Demand paperback through Lulu.com.

Links, Links, Links – You can purchase it from the following places:

Print on Demand paperback from here – Lulu.com

Kindle e-book versions – Amazon AUSAmazon UK                                                     Amazon US

 

Special thanks need to go out from me to my writer friend S.Hunter Nisbet who very helpfully assisted me in getting the story submission ready in the first place.

You can see her website and check out a sample of her recently released novel ‘What boys are made of.’ by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Days Deep.

This was originally posted  as part of the Train of Thought Blog project and is still hosted there. If you like it, go have a look at some of the other contributors works as well.

I normally enjoy trains and traveling on them, but I hate this one. An all stations ride that takes forever between each station and waits for eternity at every single one of them. At each stop I curse any passengers who need to use that particular waypoint. Muttering profanities in my misery.

It is midday on Boxing Day. The second worst day of the year to use public transport if you are in a hurry. Surpassed only by New Year’s Day and I am in a hurry.

I am on my way home and want this train to get there as fast as possible. I am running desperately from the fakery of having to act normal around my relatives. Hanging badly because I have been unable to silence the gnawing chatter of my cravings. It has been a week since I stoned myself into oblivion and I can feel it.

For five days I have silently teetered on the edge of screaming abuse at everyone around me. I made pleasant talking noises and tried to ignore my entire body screaming incessantly at me for more heroin. Just one hit to tide me over, a small one if it had to be, but a hit. A hit was all I needed to feel better. But, that cupboard had been bare.

It was Christmas, so I could drink without suspicion.  But, it just made me drunk and edgy because the constant creeping itch that crawls my body won’t let me relax for a second. I dutifully hugged Aunts and Uncles and talked to cousins I hadn’t seen for years. The whole time just wanting to be alone so I could curl into a tight little ball and weep with frustration.  Be able to let out those great, painful, tear-less sobs that I hope will exorcise the demon I carry. The one that sits inside my head, scratching at the back of my eyes with its insistent little claws. The one that screams “Feed me! Feed me!” Over and over again until it becomes a keening wail of loss and need that I cannot block my ears to. It ebbs and flows, but never disappears completely. It is always there, a fingernail on blackboard mantra that sets my teeth on edge. A demon dirge that makes me nervous, twitchy and unable to sit still.

I’d heard of food turning to ash and vinegar in people’s mouths before, but always assumed it was poetic license. Whereas now I understand it perfectly. Every time I had to sit at a table heaped with festive treats my stomach would turn at the thought of food. But, I would choke down as much as I could so nothing would seem amiss. Only to throw it up later while I ran the taps in the bathroom to cover the sound of my retching.

My family doesn’t know of my addiction so I hide my withdrawal symptoms. Because, if they knew, the sympathy would be unbearable and once I fell into those well-meaning hands I wouldn’t escape without a fight. Besides, it gives me something to focus on. Compared to my cravings, the challenge of appearing normal to a whole bunch of people is a welcome one.

But, that’s over now and I am on this frustratingly slow train home during what is my longest clean stretch so far. I could swear that some of the puffy bruises on my arms have begun to fade a little. A sign that I might actually be getting somewhere. Of course, the battle has only just begun and those bruises taunt me whenever I see them. Softly whispering entreaties that slither around inside my ears like satin tentacles, enticing and revolting at the same time.

I sit alone in the emptiest carriage I could find, staring out the window without really looking. The elation of the doors closing behind me as I stepped on board has long worn off and I have begun to slide down again into the dark places in my head.

I can’t just sit here any longer, it’s too much. Feeling the need to move I stand and walk toward the end of the carriage. Then it hits me. All of the horror that I have kept at bay. A physical wave of craving hits me like a massive breaker at the beach, knocking the wind out of me. I stagger as I walk, suddenly gasping for air. My stomach spasms painfully, punctuating the spinning of my head. I grasp the edge of a seat as my sight begins to strobe. Spots and great coloured splotches appearing in front of my eyes as I fumble my way forward. Knees suddenly too weak to support me collapse and I flop into the seat under the window. Huddling against the wall and clawing at myself as I begin to shake and shiver in my torment.

I remain there. Slowly rocking myself from side to side with the rhythm of the train as I wait for this feeling to fade, afraid to move in case I can no longer control my body. Waiting for it to return itself to me and hoping that this godforsaken locomotive will reach my station soon.

Writer Q&A Tag

 

I was tagged for this by my good friend Aila Stephens. You can find her Q&A here. Full disclosure that this is my second time being tagged in this particular game and am presumably now an honorary member of the blogging sisterhood. I’ve already answered one round of questions in this post ‘Click me’. But there were different questions this time and there’s nothing that says i can’t do another one, so there. Besides, they’re fun to do.

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog in your post.
2. Answer the questions that the blogger who nominated you has provided.
3. Nominate ten other bloggers (or up to 10)
4. Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nominations.

Aila’s questions

1.) What object is closest to the left of your computer and how could you use it in the zombie apocalypse?

Umm, it’s a mason jar cup with a candle inside it. I’m probably screwed. Why do i not keep a flamethrower in my living room for questions like these?

2.) You’re in the woods; it’s dark. Suddenly a branch cracks on the ground only a few feet behind you and all the little hairs on your neck stand at attention – what is the *first* thing you hope it isn’t going to be?

The anthropomorphized spirit of all of my ignored To-Do lists coming to hunt me down.

3.) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Strawberry. I was the kid who ate all the strawberry out of the Neapolitan tub when everybody else went for chocolate. It is surprisingly difficult to find nice strawberry ice cream by the way. It’s an under appreciated flavour. I’m also partial to a good vanilla ice cream. ‘You say boring, I say Classic’.

4.) What known (doesn’t have to be well-known) superhero would you be, and which of their villains would you most want to face?

Not strictly a super hero because he doesn’t have special powers, but he’s been wearing purple tights and fighting baddies in comics since the 1930s. I would choose to be The Phantom, ‘The Ghost Who Walks’, milk drinking puncher of bad guys (I wanted one of those skull rings so badly when i was a kid). I read the comics religiously every week  and just – don’t talk to me about the movie okay?

Villains? I would totes want to face his old nemesis the Singh Brotherhood pirates.

phantom 1

 

5.) What charitable organization is closest to your heart, and why?

The Samaritans. Because their family support workers were invaluable to me when i was first dealing with becoming a single father.

6.) What is your absolute favorite thing about yourself?

The fact that i have grown and evolved a lot as a person in the last few years.

7.) What is your favorite season and why?

Early Autumn, when the weather is good to wear jeans and a t-shirt without being too hot or cold. Also Mid Summer because I love the summer storms that we get here on the East Coast (but I’m not a fan of the heat).

8.) Do you have any special talents?

Devastating charm and disarming wit. The ability to get up every day and keep going.

9.) What were your three favorite posters that hung in your bedroom as a teenager?

A poster of Sid Viscous from the Sex pistols playing bass.

An 80s poster of Samantha Fox in a leather biker outfit and impractical stiletto heeled boots.

One of those digital art trippy sphere posters that were so popular with stoners in the 90s.

 

10.) You’re a guest at a well-attended party, what are you most likely doing?

  • Being deeply involved in conversation with one or two people.
  • Wandering around awkwardly trying not to embarrass myself.
  • Hiding outside with a cigarette and using Twitter on my phone in order to look busy.

It took me a month to come up with 10 people to nominate last time, I’ll start with one and add to it later.

Sarah Mitchell Jackson of Running Without Slipping blog.

EDIT: Here are my questions that i forgot to put in 😛

  1. Do you believe in the “You must write every single day” ethos?
  2. What was the last book you read?
  3. How do you find balancing time to write with the rest of your life?
  4. Are you a Planner or a Pantser?
  5. What are you currently working on?
  6. How do you handle criticism of your work?
  7. When people ask the inevitable “what do you write about?” how do you respond?
  8. Who are the Writers you admire and why?
  9. How much of yourself is in any of your characters?
  10. Where do you write from? What fuels the stories you choose to tell and why?

 

 

Writing from in the dark.

 

I had a realisation a little while ago about where it is that I aim to write from. It came about during a conversation with a friend. We were talking about how everyone has deeply held secrets about all kinds of things, the kind of stuff about yourself or your past that you don’t tend to share with just anybody. What they are varies from person to person and a lot of the times they are just embarrassing rather than criminal in nature. We got onto the topic of sharing those things and the idea that in your life you are probably lucky to have one maybe two people that you know and trust enough to share those kind of things with. Also that, quite often, when you do tell somebody they’re nowhere near as bad as they’ve felt to you once they are spoken out loud.

Which got me thinking about writing, because I realised that a lot of what I write about and the kind of feelings that I try to capture in my stories are those kind of things. The deeply held emotions and thoughts that everybody has and yet not many people feel comfortable talking about on the regular. I feel that my writing is at its best when I tap into a vein of these uncomfortable emotions. The unspoken feelings that everybody has.

Because, empathy for a universal experience is something that connects people to a story. You know when you’re reading a book and you have that feeling of “this book gets me”. Empathy can be a weird thing  and it doesn’t have to be a direct parallel for it to resonate with the reader. Think of emotions as a colour wheel, if you hit a shade that the reader has felt before they will more than likely be able to connect that emotion with something from their own experience. It doesn’t have to be the same or even a similar experience, just one that invokes the emotional colour for them to be able to connect with it on a visceral level and in doing so become more involved with what they are reading.

And that, is what I’m aiming for and where I try to write from. I like to sit down there in the dark with the things that don’t get talked about and give them a voice.

Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award – my answers

I was nominated by Madeleine D’este to answer some questions as part of the Siblinghood of the World Blogger awards. Her responses can be seen here on her blog.

I answer 10 questions and then i pass it on by asking 10 other bloggers 10 questions of my own.

When did you feel like a “real” writer?

Towards the beginning of last year. I had a conversation with an old friend who was around when i first started writing the draft for my novel. Which was 15 years ago (there was a period of more than a decade where it got put away and I gave up the idea of being a writer altogether). I was talking to her about the fact that I didn’t really feel comfortable calling myself a writer much and she told me that she’d thought I was a real writer after seeing those early draft chapters and had always been disappointed that I stopped. Funny how having just one person validate what you are doing can sometimes make a difference to you.

How do you overcome resistance?

I join it and we take down the man together!

Mostly I just bounce over to another project or throw some energy into my other creative interests in order to keep the tap running.

What advice would you give yourself as a wannabe writer?

  1. You’re not a wanker for wanting to be or referring to yourself as a Writer.
  2. Just do it, write, stop putting it off and thinking nobody would want to read it.

Do you prefer writing or editing?

Both for different reasons. Writing  is quite a cathartic process for me and it feels amazing once I’ve done it, but other than the occasional ‘that’s a great sentence’ moment writing itself is something that I find difficult and draining. Editing often feels more satisfying while I am doing it as it appeals to my perfectionist traits.

What part of the writing process do you struggle with the most?

The slip ‘twixt brain and page.

Getting something out of my head and written down for the first drafts is what I tend to get stuck on the most and it’s the part that feels like the most work for me. I often sit with a ball of ideas just about to fall out of my head for a while before they actually get onto a page.

Do you Nanowrimo?

Yes. I did it last year and am participating this year (both times as a last minute decision with no pre-planning whatsoever). Nowhere near ‘winning’ it by the 50k benchmark, but this year I wrote double what I wrote last year, so it feels like a win to me.

What authors do you follow on social media?

The majority of people I follow on Twitter these days are writers of some sort. Authors of note that i follow are William Gibson, Cory Doctorow & S.E.Hinton.

What’s more important to you; a good plot or beautiful writing?

After struggling with this internally for a bit, a good plot is probably more important, because a simply written piece with a good story will hold me more than a beautifully written piece that doesn’t go anywhere or say anything.

Do you take yourself on artist’s dates? What do you do?

I saw this question and thought “is that like a Masturdate?” After having looked it up it turns out that, yes, I do go on artist’s dates. I visit bookshops and lose myself, I go on photo taking expeditions and also dabble in visual arts on canvas.

When friends and family ask “can I read your book?” What do you say?

Not something that I have had happen very much so far, but when it has I say. ‘Yes, sure. I’d like to know what you think of it.’ before mentally running into a foxhole.

That’s it from me. I will nominate the following writers (all of whom i know from Twitter) to answer my 10 questions:

Heather Grace Stewart     Hester B Fox   Keira Drake   Shannon Noel Brady

Dave Koster   Annelisa Christensen   Julia Grantham    Kevin Ansbro

Louise Gornall    Michael Huddlestone

Here be your questions!

  1. Do you believe in the “You must write every single day” ethos?
  2. What was the last book you read?
  3. How do you find balancing time to write with the rest of your life?
  4. Are you a Planner or a Pantser?
  5. What are you currently working on?
  6. How do you handle criticism of your work?
  7. When people ask the inevitable “what do you write about?” how do you respond?
  8. Who are the Writers you admire and why?
  9. How much of yourself is in any of your characters?
  10. Where do you write from? What fuels the stories you choose to tell and why?

 

 

 

Confessions of a Writer.

I was tagged in this interview series by the always lovely Annelisa. So here is a blog post in which i answer some questions about writing and me.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
I started writing stories when I was in primary school (most of which I never finished) and I wrote a lot of poetry in my teens (most of it terrible), but I didn’t have any particular aspirations to be a writer when I was young. In primary school I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot and by the time I finished high school I was actively pursuing a career as an actor or a rock star. My lack of red carpet appearances and worldwide smash hit singles will probably tell you that neither of those panned out for me.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realised that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing as part of a therapy exercise and it expanded from there and became the start of the novel that I am working on now. My wife at the time was very supportive and sent some inquiries to every lit agent or publishing person she could find and we got some very positive responses.

Life got in the way and I gave it up to get a real job and try being responsible and stuff until about a year ago when I realised that I have always been a writer, whether I thought of myself as one or not and that it was what I wanted to do. At which point I picked it all up again and decided that I was going to make something of this writing thing if I possibly could. At the very least I didn’t want to regret not having given it my utmost.

What genre do you write?

Most of what I write falls under the Literary Fiction tag. Technically also Non-Genre Modern Fiction, but that sounds incredibly beige and boring. I also branch into speculative fiction sometimes.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

My major WIP is a novel currently titled ‘Coming Clean’. Its central character is a young man who is a heroin addict and general avoider of responsibility that discovers he is going to be a father. It follows his journey through breaking out of the addiction cycle and coming to terms with impending fatherhood. It is the novel that I mentioned in my first answer, so I officially started writing it about 15 years ago now.
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first piece that I can remember writing was in 3rd or 4th class and it was a story about my friends and I. We went on a camping trip and ended up foiling an evil genius with an army of robot sharks.

What’s the best part about writing?

Having written.
Being ‘in the zone’ where words just flow out of you and the rest of the world around you ceases to matter.
Less people question my coffee and cigarette intake or weird sleep cycle.

What’s the worst part about writing?

Not being in the above mentioned zone.
Those times when you look at your work and think it’s all crap.
People who think writing is a) easy b) just a little hobby that I have.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why?

I don’t love any of my characters more than the others, I just love them all differently.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

Umm…yes. It varies wildly, and I’ve never really kept track of it. I’m a single parent of three children so a lot of my writing time is in blocks of an hour or so that I manage to grab as well as the occasional all night writing binge.
The best time for me to write is late at night when the kids are in bed. Plus I am a night person in general and I find my creative mind is generally more active at those kind of times. 1am to 3am is usually my sweet spot.

Did you go to college for writing?

No. My writing education consists of having always been a reader and reading many, many interviews with writers. Early on I had a mentor of sorts. A family friend that was a scriptwriter and generally Literary minded, he pointed me in the direction of The Paris Review among other things.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

It depends on the circumstances.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Me personally –

“You should. The world needs writers” which is what my Father said to me when I first told him that I wanted to be a writer.
“Once you think your story is finished. Get someone else to look at it for you” – Kevin Ansbro
I’m also just going to throw some quotes out here that I’ve found helpful:

“Remember that the first draft is just you telling the story to yourself” – Terry Pratchett
“Write hard and clear about what hurts” – Hemingway
“Write drunk, edit sober” – Hemingway
John Steinbeck also wrote a wonderful letter of writing advice to a friend’s niece that I have always found helpful. Here if you’re interested.

What advice would you give to another writer?

Just grit your teeth and write, get it out of your head, judge it later.

What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Um. Nowhere specific mostly. To be honest I have found most of that kind of advice and support though the writing community on Twitter that I have gotten to know over the last year. I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well and would happily meet many of them for a coffee, drink or debauched weekend of questionable decisions and excessive consumption (remember, bad decisions make good stories).

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I still play music, I write and record songs from time to time, just for my own amusement these days. I dabble in visual arts, collage and painting. I have the occasional binge on computer games and I run a Tabletop Roleplaying game group that meets online once a week.
I also enjoy long walks on the beach and staring bleakly into the void.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Kinnara by Kevin Ansbro (but if he asks tell him I said something else or he’ll get a big head). No, really, it’s a fantastic book.

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie. One of the things that I love about it is the characters of Ninja and Yolandi. Because I went from finding them really distasteful characters initially to genuinely caring about their story by the end of the movie, despite them still being basically the same people which is no small feat of storytelling.

What is your favourite book or series of all time?

Sorry, can’t narrow it down to just one. How about my top five?
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Small Gods – Terry Pratchett
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Candide – Voltaire
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Who is your favourite author?
Didn’t I basically just answer this with the last question?

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Basically just to keep going and finish the first draft of this novel I’m working on. I also plan to submit some short fiction that I have written to as many places I can think of in the hope of having some of it published.

Where else can we find you online?

Other than this blog I can be found on Twitter @out_ofthe_fog , come say hi if you haven’t already. I also have a G+ profile that I do nothing with, doesn’t everybody?

To keep the ball rolling i would like to tag the following:

@RomeoRites

@ShunterNi

@mariellahunt

@cathleentowns

@lucyfacewrites

For the benefit of those tagged, the interview questions are below.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
What genre do you write?
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favourite character and why?
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Did you go to college for writing?
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
What advice would you give to another writer?
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Who is your favourite author?
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Where else can we find you online?