October in Writing: Writing a Series…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optThe stand-alone serial nature of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ has given me the platform to get a lot of story ideas to the page, jumping around the Victorian era and the lives of Darkwood and Hobbs. However, as certain events have taken place I have had to put together a time-line to avoid having continuity issues. Deep into writing the second run I have come across another issue which I haven’t had to worry about before–balancing the elements which make up ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’.

The first run was essentially a ‘mystery of the week’ style format, and easily introduced Darkwood’s aunt and uncle, the long-suffering reluctant ally and eventual friend of Darkwood and Hobbs, Inspector Duggan. The series ending with the introduction of the first story arc element in ‘The Conspiracies of Shadow and Fire’, which served as a prequel and continuation of the series, and established the two main players vying for Darkwood’s guide stone–the Shadows and the Hellfire Club, and one of its villainous members, Lord Balmoral.

In my head, Darkwood and Hobbs have more friends and allies, and they need time to appear and become established as reoccurring characters. There are also returning villains, and not to forget the ‘deeper mystery’ of what happened to Darkwood’s parents, and the history of the guide stone. Plus there are certain character and relationship developing events for and between Darkwood and Hobbs. All of these has required some placement or element of story arcs within the stories I have planned. This has also started to dictate the stories I want and need to write.

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July to September in Writing: Balancing an Unlikeable Character…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optIt’s been three months since my last blog post, but the first draft of my latest novel is done. I’ve said previously how this was a ‘surprise’ novel, as I knew this was going to be a longer project, but I hadn’t appreciated just how long it was going to be. At 300 pages and 117,586 words (as this draft stands now) ‘The Slaves of the Underworld’ is my longest story for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ series yet. Thankfully, with a good plan, it all came together easily and flowed nicely. The only difficulty I had was with a co-worker–sorry–character, who I found to be quite unlikable, and I found this to be a bit of struggle, for if I didn’t like him, then would my readers take to him, and would Hobbs’ friendship with Peter reflect poorly on him–my main character?

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May & June in Writing: Pushing Through The Block & Writer-Kids Growing Up…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optAfter my previous downer of a post where I admitted I was struggling with motivation towards my writing, I can happily say I’m back on track. My solution was to find a better place for my writing to fit into my life, so that I can balance my hobbies and my time more comfortably. I now write on Friday mornings only. Up at 6, work from 7 until 12. With tea breaks of course, I mean, let’s not turn writing into hard labor… I’m tapping out about 3000 to 4000 words, and in my current project that seems to be a chapter a week. So it feels satisfying enough for me.

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March & April in Writing: Motivation Struggles…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optSitting down to write has been a little tough lately. I don’t get writers block, in the sense that I can’t think what to write–I plan too much–so I always know what I need to get down on the page. It’s just that writing relies on me wanting and being able to write. I’m just getting over a cold, which has dragged on for about a month. It left me feeling pretty wiped out, lacking concentration, and just wanting to sit and be. Prior to that there was some stuff going on around me which made me feel very set apart from everyone as I did not think or feel in the same way as everyone else seemed to, it kind of compounded some personal wider established thinking around this, so I was a bit distracted, in my own head and feeling a bit stressed and miserable. So, it hasn’t been the best time for writing for me. All that is heaped onto some struggles I have with writing in general.

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Coping With X-Wing 2.0 Adjustment Disorder…

Image result for x wing 2.0

I’m really excited with the recent announcement by Fantasy Flight Game (FFG) of X-Wing 2.0. I’m hoping it’s going to fix what needs fixing and clean up what has gone from a streamlined quick play game to a bloated game requiring regular rule checks. Reading all the news though, I found that many people have suddenly found themselves feeling anxious, angry and upset. X-Wing Adjustment Disorder (X-WAD). There’s even been some self-harm by spikey Tie-Interceptor, and others who have pitched themselves back into the age-old mystery of trying to understand the point of crit tokens. I find fandom generally is so toxic these days, like any change is intolerable, and the toxicity of fandom has become so much easier to voice thanks to the Internet of outrage as it seems to have become. So I thought I would toss out some positivity for a game I love… and as a trained therapist and author of the self-help book, ‘Get Over It’, I can’t just sit here with all the XWAD suffering I’ve witnessed on social media, so after the mad Tusken Raider and hyper-jump below I’m wading into the despair to triage the most common cries of anguish…

Image result for angry tusken raider

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Vegan Well-Being…

DVDOMPSsmallOne year vegan and… not dead. Yay us! That being said, I’m writing this feeling like death thanks to a cold, so while our vegan diet hasn’t killed us it hasn’t made us invincible either. I could drop anecdotal comments about how my hay fever symptoms reduced, I didn’t get my usual winter cold and how I haven’t had back ache since the diet change, but it’s hard to say whether that’s anything to do with the diet or just natural fluxes in my condition over a year. It might also not be directly due to  the food I’m eating, but the lifestyle changes going vegan prompted. So, instead of this post being about actual physical health improvements I’m going to talk about the impact going vegan has had on well-being, which is about how we have felt in this process and feel now.

Health Anxiety
Okay, start with the negatives… I’ve been health conscious for quite a while now–if not so healthy in my actual diet–and would watch sat fat and try and moderate the treats, but going into a vegan diet for ethical reasons we were worried that we could be jeopardising our health. Every spot, tummy wobble and head ache, had us questioning whether we were making ourselves unhealthy through our diet. Ironically, this wasn’t the go-to explanation we would have come up with on our meat, dairy and egg filled diet! I also lost nearly a stone in under 6 months, which was a bit of a worry as I am already quite light. However, in the last few years my weight had crept up from 9.5/10 stone to 10.5/11 stone, so I’m taking the drop back down to 10 stone as my having lost the onset of middle-age spread. So, result for me. Rob has not lost weight, but we don’t talk about that… He had hoped he would. The only difference in our lifestyle seems to be that he eats crisps and doesn’t exercise as much as I do as I usually cycle a lot in the week through work. Thankfully, reading around and watching the films ‘What the Health’ and ‘Forks over Knives’ and Mic the vegan’s YouTube channel, we felt somewhat reassured that through our food choices and supplements we would be getting a balanced diet. In the midst of all this angst we had to do a bit of ‘calm the f*** down’ and stop being so quick to recognise health issues and blame them on our diet.

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