Reflecting on May (2017)… Writing The Darkwood Mysteries (18): The Disaster Man…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optMay saw me return to writing after a very long break. I have started writing a series of blog posts to support my self-help book ‘Get Over It’, which I’m enjoying. On the fiction front, I decided to return to ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ as it’s  a comfortable place to be.

I have been reading ‘City of Sin’ by Catherine Arnold–a nice bit of history around London’s relationship with sex over the centuries, and ‘Sins of the City of the Plain’ by ‘Jack Saul’ (probably not actually by him), which is a contemporaneous account of the notorious rent boy, Jack Saul’s experiences. Essentially Victorian gay smut. So, some titillating reading.

No, Darkwood and Hobbs are not suddenly going to have a series of sexcapades (disappointingly for them), but sex is a big part of all our lives, and it’s often when we’re at our most honest, and reading about what the Victorians got up to behind closed doors is sometimes much more informative than the dry accounts reported in newspapers and diaries, especially socially and use of language. While some of the sexy talk seems a little juvenile by today’s sexy talk, a time-travelling sexplorer would be able to have just as much fun in 1800s London. A fun return to research! But, on the actual writing side of it all I decided against a blank page…

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The Dairy Free Milk of Human Kindness…

DVDOMPSsmallAt the start of our 40s, my partner and I have decided to give up breast-feeding. I’m too squeamish to keep doing it. We just can’t stand the thought of drinking the secretions of a cow anymore. I’ve always been a bit squeamish about milk because of the thought of where it comes from, but like most of us, I didn’t think about that very much, and somehow was able to put it out of  conscious thought. I also don’t like the creaminess and the way it coats my tongue and throat. Ugh. Gross. There’s no way I could’ve ever downed a glass of milk straight—not without seeing it again. Thankfully milk was often just an ingredient in my diet and flavoured and disguised by other things—on a day to day level as a functional splash on my cereal and in my regular cups of tea through the day, and the holy transmutation into thick milk shakes and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I would’ve been going ‘mmmmmm’ at the thought of Ben and Jerry’s before watching Simon Amstell’s Carnage, and seeing what cows have to go through for our tastes. Even if I could be ok with breast feeding, the methods and practices of the dairy industry is offputting enough. Watching that, my squeamishness around milk was triggered and reinforced, and I knew I wanted milk out of my diet.

Watch this and make your own mind up about dairy.

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Think Better to Feel Better (an introduction to CBT)…



What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach which can help us understand, challenge and overcome our personal issues.

CBT takes the stance that our personal problems are either worsened or caused by the way we think about them and the way we act in response to those thoughts. It’s an approach that places our own perception and interpretation of situations at the forefront of dealing with our problems.

CBT for understanding our difficulties

CBT is all about breaking complex and often overwhelming experiences down into their component parts to make manageable steps towards challenging and overcoming them. It does this within a CBT cycle of elements:

  • The Situation is the factual, actual world. The indisputable details—the time, the place, the people involved and the task at hand.
  • Our Experience is formed from our perception and interpretation of the situation; the assumptions around what the situation means, and predictions of what’s going to happen in this situation. Our experience is a complex relationship between these thoughts, and our behaviours and our feelings in response to these ideas. These three ingredients of experience tend to feed each other within an unhelpful cycle and are the focus of CBT self-help work.
  • The Outcome is what happens in part, or in full, as a result of our perspective of the situation, and how our resulting feelings are expressed and how we act in response to these thoughts through our behaviours. The outcome then becomes a new situation for us to experience, and so begins another circuit within a CBT cycle.



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Reflecting on April (2017)… Resizing the past and formatting for the future…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optIt’s been a couple of years since I have done any serious writing. That disappoints me so much. However, studies are over with and I have my life back. That study and work period reinforced that time is precious, and so I headed back into writing wanting to streamline what writing involves for me. That is cutting down the amount of writing related work that isn’t actually writing. April saw the website get a little spruce up, courtesy of my other half. ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ is no longer a separate website, but a page on my author site, and soon I will stop using the social media accounts for this series and my self-help title ‘Get Over It’. That way I can just focus on one social media account as me, sharing whatever I find interesting, from writing, weirdness through to geek, to Victorian history and to self-help. Eclectic as I am. One of the last tasks before I get back down to writing was to reformat ‘Get Over It’… Formatting. What fun. I have learnt that images can be resized in a few ways, which, if you’re a novice self-publisher like me, you might find useful to know.

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Muse & Views: Whyborne & Griffin Book Series…

BEYOND THE WRITING DESK_opt (1)When I started writing this blog, I wanted to share interests and opinions, and in doing so I started reviewing things. Unfortunately, I stumbled across a lot of things I didn’t like, and I didn’t want this to become a negative space, so I decided I would only write about things I like. Then, with work and studying, I just didn’t have time to write much in the way of blog posts at all. Now that things have calmed the f*** down I want to share my enjoyment of a few favourite things. First off is a book series I stumbled across last year…

Image result for whyborne and griffinWhyborne and Griffin by Jordan L. Hawk, is a supernatural horror series set in the late 18th century, turn of the 19th century, following the titular characters as they are drawn into Lovecraftian mysteries. My enjoyment of Whyborne and Griffin’s is largely down to these two central characters. Whyborne starts of painfully insecure thanks to an oppressive father and spiteful brother, and is hiding within his work studying ancient languages within the Widdershins museum. He is both sympathetic through his experiences, and frustrating with his pervasive negative twist on the positive. I suspect he would’ve withered away if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with the confident, dashing Griffin. Yet, Griffin, a private detective, is damaged in his own way, and despite his self-confidence and charm, he is more broken than Whyborne through experiences much darker and more haunting than Whyborne’s.

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Do Vegans Dream of Mycoprotein Sheep?



DVDOMPSsmallThe lifestyle change for me and my partner to vegetarian and then vegan has been a process of giving up life-long staple, favourite and comfort foods.

Beyond the peace of mind this gives me I find myself wondering whether I will ever see food in the same way again, and enjoy it as much as I always have.

This irregular series of non-preachy blog posts will follow us, two regular guys, meat and dairy eaters for all our lives, as we explore the reasons for and the challenges and rewards of a plant based diet as we go on our new veg munching adventure…

Why go vegan?

Burger and thick chocolate milkshake. Chicken tikka masala. Tuna pasta bake smothered with cheese and crumbled crisps. Fish finger sandwich with salt and vinegar crisps and a pint of cider.  Peperoni pizza. Fish and chips. Chocolate. Cake. Cake. Cake. While these weren’t our everyday food choices, and we made the effort to balance our diet with fruit and veg, these were–are?–our favourite foods. The go to options for date nights or chilling out together. Experiences and treats we shared. However, we also share a care for the world and animals. As many people do. And just recently we came to think more about how our food choices were a big contradiction of our claim of caring about the environment…

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