Weekly Ramble #60

The bravest people amongst us are the ones who realise that they need to reach out for help. To seek a solution for whatever problem you face means deep down you care. And self care is so damn important in this life.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes and admitting that is a victory in it’s own right. The truth is I have the highest regard and respect to those who talk about it in any way, shape or form. It’s alright to express your emotion in whatever way that helps process feeling. By all means cry, laugh, growl, sit in silence or even blog about it; hell I’ve processed stuff by writing whole novels (my poor readers…).   

I can only speak from experience when times have been tough in life and although it may appear you are falling down branch by branch landing between your own legs each time, trust me when I say eventually life does give you a break (from the nut shots).

Some things aren’t forever and this includes the suffering our minds can go through; just think of it as another stage in this journey called life. As much as it’s easier said than done coming from a guy in a ‘good’ place currently, these days we’re all not far from spiraling.

You could feel like that one in one thousand kid roaming the school hallway knowing and feeling that this place isn’t where you fit in; I’ve been there and some day soon that sensation of not belonging, much like school will fade. You’ll find those who are like-minded, that’s a human instinct to find others like yourself and school; it’s a public place, you have to do it for now but not forever.

You could be working a shitty job for a shitty boss just trying day in day out to prove your worth; some folks will never understand or appreciate that worth; by all means work hard and gain experience but not everyone deserves your energy and graft.

Remember that your own mind well being comes first and there are numerous ways to overcome rough patches; take a social media break, binge watch an entire series on Netflix , and personal favourite; keep a diary of how you feel and then look back on those days gone by to see how strong you’ve become. Lean on your friends, those who are true friends will be there when you are in need.

Life has a funny way of getting better eventually and whatever storm your in now, will blow over, trust me, even though I don’t know everything…

Do what you have to do to take care of yourself in this life.

What quote gets you through life?

I shall close with my go to quote from one of my true heroes…

 

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Weekly Ramble #52

Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more. Even in this modern age where we appear to be more connected than ever before, we still face these issues on a pandemic scale. You would think the concept of social media would help to battle such issues but from my experiences it can foster depression and possibly make it worse. Perhaps the original intention of social media – if it ever was good, has been overlooked and overshadowed.

2010 – you’ve got to get a Facebook profile picture..

2019 – you’ve got to get off Facebook…

It’s strange how time can turn things around, or in this sense nearly a decade .The same generation (folks like me) who knew a life before being internet reliant and then embracing it is now choosing to come away. Perhaps the old saying too much of anything is bad for you turned out to be pretty accurate.

The reason I link mental health and social media together is because last year these two subjects culminated in what I recall as a particularly dark time for me personally. I know many people who have been on their own mental health journeys; many of them blog or post about it (the good guys!), and well I’ve been quite vague until now because it is still fresh and context along with timing has urged me to share it only now – plus compared to last year right now I am probably in one of the best places I’ve been for a long while, as I said it’s funny how time can turn things around.

Off the heels of my 4th book release and the 2nd one of last year which didn’t go particularly smoothly and subsequently didn’t turn out how I envisioned. I’ve only learned all of my ‘book stuff’ by doing/ trial and error and well the release of Cemetery House was indeed just another day at the learning factory – sequels are a specialist thing in indie publishing, and while I did put the whole thing on a pedestal with a long running social media campaign and a whole bunch of expectation, let’s just say in my head I didn’t exactly get a hole in one. By this time I had already drafted the Darke Blood sequel and immediately I pulled the plug on releasing that this year – it wasn’t ready and neither was I.

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There was also a bunch of other stuff going on at the time; that whole year had been building up towards me moving into my own place with my more than better half. Moving places is naturally stressful even if it went quite well – there is more paperwork than any book I’ve ever written… So by the end of November and with my mind trying to crawl towards a better place I took the huge dive into deleting the Facebook app off my phone – for those who know I was always on Facebook; that’s my secret captain… I even decided to go dark across all platforms probably apart from this place. This may have been the best health decision I have ever made in my entire life –  arguably probably better than no carb Thursday or no meat Monday… Immediately my mind and focus turned towards other things, of course the move was coming but very quickly and after being burned by book 4’s ‘debacle’ I wanted to write again!

For those who have read my books will know they are about more than genre and even the main plot. In everything I have created there is an underlying message within. I took on a new writing project and with my crusade against staying off social media I went a further step creatively and decided to hand write my next project. My vision was to take away page counts, word counts, windows updates and the temptation of logging on to Life Invader as well as finding my writing routes. This was just Lee, his pen, some paper and words. At this time I was still healing and so I got writing and subconsciously put together a story that reflected how I was feeling in a sense.

That recollection of feelings reflected via a story ended up becoming a book called ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which is due for release this December. Because it was handwritten and had a sole focus on just telling a story it turned out to be quite short but it could arguably be my most powerful and important project. And so we go back to the start of this entry… Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more, you’ll find these subjects in my next book and they are talked about. That is something we need to do so much more. There are some creators I know that also talk about self care – this is just as important, finding away to get through stuff is a vital part of talking about it!

Now I’m not just using this as an opportunity to sell some books, this has never been about that, it’s an opportunity to use my writing for something more than just telling stories. 

By the end of December last year I had mostly recovered and dove into Indie Book Reviews which has probably been a lifeline for me. Connecting with other authors and bloggers who face what I face gives me a great sense of not being alone in the huge overpopulated world of social media. Even now I am weary of Facebook, it’s #4 or #5 on my platforms for author stuff, this place  is numero uno followed closely by the tweet machine.

For what is my 52nd ramble post – a year of rambles, although I started this series little over a year ago – I would like to take this opportunity to everyone who reads this and say thank you! This blog and your support has given my writing a new lease of life and very soon ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ will be my redemption, whether or not it is a success actually doesn’t matter, it’s the journey of creation that truly matters. 

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Lets talk about the Darke Blood sequel…

I don’t like talking about my books. I tend to go on and on and on… until people change the subject. This post does exactly that but without you changing the subject.

I am ready to talk about the Darke Blood sequel

Introductory ramblings… 

When I decided to seriously pursue my dream of being a story teller I never let anything hold that vision back. You could argue I still haven’t because even after releasing my first book back in 2016 I charged forward and put out three more in two years.

There were a bunch of things I learned; after all I built this whole blog thing from zero.

Some lessons were painful, arduous and frustrating. But it wasn’t all bad, I’ve seen some real reward which is only coming to fruition recently – my biggest learning curve above all is that things take time and so does success in writing and blogging. I now have some awesome fellow writers and bloggers in my corner. And my audience is the biggest it’s ever been.

Only a small portion of this publishing journey has ever really struck me enough to properly hurt and even then it was during the process of getting book 4 published. Book 4 also happened to be the first sequel I delved into. 

Unfortunately or fortunately for my readers one of the natural core values of my writing is complication. I would even boast to say all of my stories probably apart from The Teleporter are hugely complex. I cannot help but plant stuff in narratives for future story arcs and pay offs which will come further down the line. You could even say I am serial plotter when it comes to writing. Much of the time I live in my own mind putting together massively complicated stories full of detail, history and futures. It’s actually incredible knowing everything or at least the main details of what is going to happen in a story sometimes years before they ever see release. By the time you’ve read one of my books I’m already in the sequel or another world entirely. 

And so here comes the theme of this post. When I essentially started again in 2016 with Open Evening (my debut novel), I drafted that book with a sequel in mind. But before  Open Evening got published I delved into another stand alone book called Darke Blood.

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I had quite a terrible time drafting Darke Blood for a number of reasons.

  1. I couldn’t make the story work
  2. I had bad sciatica (i was in serious pain)
  3. I still couldn’t make the story work…
  4. I had just began a new job which involved shift work so my body clock was all over the place…

I now realize this is probably why Darke Blood turned out so damn good…. The second book is where authors become authors… the struggle is reflected in some pretty epic twists and turns – this was literally me not knowing wtf I was doing…

After almost angrily sending what was probably a quarter of Darke Blood draft 1 into the recycling bin – I give credit to a particular angry gym session for convincing me not to – I had a big time epiphany.

What if Darke Blood; a world where vampires exist, shared the same universe as Open Evening; a world where monsters exist? 

It makes sense and I’m talking big time epiphany style so it was time to get complicated – my comfort zone in writing.

Immediately I began to plot like a motherfu**er. And although Darke Blood is a stand alone story; and stands alone  impressively well (Caitlyn Turner is a pure badass, Blake Malone is a great MC and not to mention Angus and Splint) it also works as an incredible addition to the universe which Open Evening shares.

Are ya still with me? Well let me explain via bullet points:

  • 2015 – Open Evening Drafted – to be sent to my editor in summer 2016
  • 2016 – Darke Blood Drafted – I decide a quarter of the way through it shares a universe with Open Evening. This makes the ‘story’ work…
  • Summer 2016 – I confirm they share the same universe by referencing Darke Blood in Open Evening by way of the final edit
  • Autumn 2016 – Open Evening released – Darke Blood edited
  • 2017 – Darke Blood released – I then draft the Sequel to Open Evening – Cemetery House – I also drafted the Teleporter…  busy times…
  • 2018 – Cemetery House is released

I have left out one major detail from the above timeline: 

2018 – I drafted the Darke Blood sequel – ‘Darke Awakening’ and it sits idle awaiting the day it may see an editor. 

2020 –  I am currently editing ‘Darke Awakening’ and honestly I am so happy with it! Of course it needs work but it’s looking awesome! 

So if you are still here and have trawled through the above stuff I will now finally talk about this post’s subject matter and it’s quite simple:

Just why have I held back in releasing Darke Awakening?

Darke Blood is set in the same universe as Open Evening and Cemetery House. I know of less than 5 people who have read all 3 of these books. 

But, but, but, before I say anything further, there are some awesome folks who have read these books and put out some wonderful reviews and support for them! Seriously thank you.

Darke Awakening is not only a direct sequel to Darke Blood but it is also a crossover and a sequel to Cemetery House. Yep it’s pretty fuckin complex, but it doesn’t mean the whole thing isn’t epic because it really is. The first half of Darke Awakening serves as the sequel to Darke Blood and then it becomes a crossover with Open Evening and Cemetery House later on.

You have to read all three of these books before reading Darke Awakening. 

  1. Open Evening
  2. Cemetery House

 

3.  Darke Blood

Notice the gap because as long as you read Open Evening before Cemetery House you are all good in terms of overall order. It doesn’t actually matter when you read Darke Blood…

The problem is, it’s hard convincing people to read one book let alone three..

Reasoning…

The main trouble with all of this is that I decided to make these worlds share the same universe before anyone really read them or even thought they were any good. Now if you ask me, Open Evening; although it is my debut novel; it isn’t my finest hour – younger readers enjoy it more and it is targeted at school age readers – not to take anything away from their taste, they just appreciate it more, it appeals to them more, its based in a high school. It may not be my greatest but I stand by the fact the story is good. It has also been newly edited this year.

I also stand by the fact Cemetery House’s story is good along with Darke Blood’s which is probably aimed at slightly older readers. Without these books I would not be the author I am today. 

So here’s the conclusion. I want to see Darke Awakening get published. And so back to my first sentence of this post, I’ve never let anything hold me back and just because less than 5 people have read all three books in the same series doesn’t really matter. I do this because I enjoy it, I live for the worlds I build and the characters that reside in them.

Anyone who wants to see Darke Awakening happen then I implore you to reach out and tell others about my stuff. I started this in 2016 from zero.

For those who haven’t read any of these three books which are part of the ‘Order of the Following’ series I will happily send you e copies for free. 

If this all goes to plan, you can expect Darke Awakening to be released this September! 

 

 

 and even then it was during the process of getting book 4 published. Book 4 also happened to be the first sequel I delved into. Unfortunately   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #46

There is no shame in having anxiety. We should never beat ourselves up for what is essentially a reaction or a feeling to something. Like a suspension bridge the cables and struts of it’s anatomy only have a certain tolerance, own own cables and struts (emotions) are under the same stress.

It’s a natural normal thing to feel anxious and the triggers can spring up from anywhere. That big presentation, a speech, an important game and even getting on that plane (for me). Rationalization is hard thing to find in the murk and dark of anxiety, every little thing becomes heightened. It can be hell for sometimes days before and then the actual experience may turn out to have all been in our heads (but even after I still hate flying).

We can debilitate ourselves with thoughts alone, and maybe we were being silly in that moment, but that’s not tackling the issue, that’s just a dismissal. In this day and age especially we must talk about our emotions, they lead us through that murk. Depression, anxiety, nervousness, worry, they are all considered as bad feelings, but they are normal reactions to the life we live. It’s okay to have these feelings, sometimes every day.

The next time you lift something heavy or god forbid do a plank, your arms or abdominal muscles begin to shake, that’s because they are working and again that is something normal like emotion.

In a world where all of us strife to be different we all have one thing that is the same, our emotions, so let’s bloody talk about them more!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to change, the word we use…

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I have discussed the subject of time to change before here on the Hall of information. For those who don’t know, time to change is a program to challenge mental health discrimination and stigma towards it.

To me ‘mental’ is actually quite a harsh word to use when describing someone’s health. If we are moving forward with talking about this stuff don’t you think it got a better name?

In fact if you say the word ‘mental’ enough it seems like quite a nasty and horrible thing to say. So why hasn’t anybody really challenged that? I know right now many organisations who work towards and for people with such health problems use that word quite a lot. Would it be that hard to change it to psychological health?

People with the most minor of leg or joint problems aren’t categorised as an amputee so why does that one word govern all of those who suffer with psychological problems.

Changing mental health to psychological health seems more logical to me seeing as a person would go to a psychologist for help with any problems regarding the human mind.

The word mental doesn’t offend me deep down but still it could be replaced. Especially in the world we live in now with political correctness don’t you think this subject should come into the 21st century?

As quoted in my previous post ‘No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.’

Although this quote came from a film it still has the right sentiment. Together people like me who don’t currently suffer from any psychological health problems and people that do have to band together and start talking about this. Wherever you look in history when people have worked together they have achieved incredible things, even if it is just changing one word. Together we can change to world one word at a time.

My good friend Matt Streuli has recently written some stuff about his experiences as he suffers from some psychological health issues. He wrote for the Huffington post and has even been on the radio, check out his story it’s well worth a read. All Matt has done is talk about it and that’s all anyone needs to do.

What’s your story? Would you join a campaign to decommission the word ‘mental’ as way of describing health?

This is the internet after all so you must have an opinion. Get in touch

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