Personal stuff

Another end of year lookback

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We’re almost at the end of 2015 and I know I’m not the only to notice that it seemed to go by quickly. Almost everyone I speak to says, “where did it go?” I used to think it was only older people who felt time going quickly, but now I’m noticing it happening. Wait, maybe I’m old now?

I’m not complaining though. 2015 has been a horrible year, for a lot of people besides myself. Not only have we had terrorism all over the world but many people I know have experienced personal anguish of many kinds during this year. I’m no exception to this unfortunately. I’ve had, and am still having, problems with the benefit system here in the UK. I still don’t know if I’m going to be receiving any of the benefit I’m due. I seem to be coming up against one total fuck up after another and I don’t see why I should have to fight just to get what I’m entitled to. I’ve been living on nothing since 20th October and if it weren’t for the generosity of some of my wonderful facebook friends, the cats and I would have starved by now.

The byword for this past year is Loser. It is during this past twelve months that I have been forced to face up to the fact that I am a total loser in every respect. Looking back over my life, I have failed to succeed in every single thing I’ve tried. It is not due to lack of trying either, an accusation my mother laid at my door just the other day. I have given time and effort, and often money, into many different hobbies, crafts, and entrepreneurial pursuits, and have failed in them all.

Since June 2011, I have been writing novels and short stories and now have a backlist of twelve books, with another finished to first draft and yet another half written. All have failed to sell and still nobody is interested in my work. I have tried doing free giveaways, one facebook release event I arranged garnered the impressive attendance of just 2. I am now experiencing the painful trauma of realising that I am wasting my time publishing and probably should not bother doing so again. When I say painful, I mean it. Failing at this is the most painful thing of my entire life so far. I cannot adequately explain how much I want to be a successful novelist, and to fail so spectacularly is a burden that is too much to bear.

It is very strange to go through one’s daily existence devoid of emotional connection to one’s conscious being. To be unable to ‘feel’ anything makes the process of daily existence much like a hamster running on a wheel. One runs but never gets anywhere. It is not simply the joy that has gone, but the meaning itself, the point, the raison d’etre.

I am just one of scores who feel this way at the end of 2015 and many pseudo spiritual hanky wafters would say there’s some kind of great shift in consciousness going on, no doubt engineered by the great ones over at the Pleiades or other such spiritual masters. Poppycock. We’re sick of life the way it is, end of story.

I go into 2016 with no hope for good fortune or other rosy pink fluffy wonderfulness. As with all the others who feel as I do, I’m just glad another year is over and sure that the next one will be as dire as the last. I can’t wait for the asteroid.

Good riddance 2015.

 

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I’m not horrible and it’s official

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53 years ago the world was a different place. Things we take for granted now either did not happen then or were as rare as hen’s teeth. We have evolved so much since I was born 53 years ago; our knowledge is greater now than at any other time in the history of mankind. We can do so much now that seemed impossible then. We understand so much more now and are able to make people’s lives so much better now than we could back then.

When I was born, kids with ‘difficulties’ had to clearly show 9 particular symptoms in order to be given an official diagnosis of autism, and even with that diagnosis, there wasn’t much real help available. If, like me, you didn’t clearly display all 9 symptoms, you were stuck with the label ‘problem child’ and had to deal with it however you could, which was usually not very well. Mother always knew I was autistic but without that official diagnosis, I was just another weirdo, the problem child, the horrible child who embarrassed everyone. However firmly you know in your gut what your problem is, unless you have it validated by those who know, you grow up believing you really are just a horrible person unworthy of friendship.

With the passing of the years, the medical field has increased its knowledge and understanding of the way we humans work and Autism is treated much more effectively. Diagnoses are more accurate and the help available is not bad, especially for children diagnosed today.

Finally, after 53 years, I got my diagnosis. Having what I always knew to be true, validated is a substantial comfort when you’ve spent half a century being told you’re just a horrible person who is unworthy of friendship or love. I am not labouring under the misapprehension that I will be snowed under with offers of help that will suddenly net me dozens of friends and invites to parties. No, I’m many things but stupid is not one of them. I’ve spent too many years without any help, learning to cope alone or just withdrawing when I can’t, to believe any help is out there for me now.

What it does give me is the chance to say, “No, I’m not a horrible person. I have autism.”

INCOMPETENCE AT DOCTOR’S SURGERY – MY ONGOING STORY

I live in Hampshire, UK. I am registered as a patient at Stokewood Surgery, Fair Oak Road, Fair Oak, Hampshire, UK. Telephone 023 8069 2000 (for those outside the UK, remove the zero at the front and add 44).

I have a spinal injury. It is called a Pars Defect and I received it when I was attacked in the street by a stalker when I was 17 years old. Until November 2014, I have always been able to live a reasonably normal life with my injury, and was employed and paid my taxes for all those years.  By November 2014, my injury had made holding down a full time job, impossible and I was forced to give up work and begin the trauma of claiming benefits.

It is a horrendous rigmarole claiming benefits, and to cut out the majority of the boring stuff, I was given a benefit called ESA – Employment Support Allowance. It is the same benefit that used to be DSA – Disabled Living Allowance. In order to get my ESA benefit regularly, I have to provide the DWP – Department for Work and Pensions (the folks who hand out the benefit money), with a sick note every six weeks. In order to do this, I have to ring up my Doctor’s surgery a few days before the sick note runs out and tell them I need a renewal. They won’t renew a sick note before a day or two before the old one runs out, but the DWP requires a new one the day after the old one runs out. This means that the couple of days before the sick note runs out, is a time of worry as I rush to get the new one sent off in time to reach the DWP. If the DWP don’t receive the new one, or if it arrives later than the day after the old one runs out, they stop your benefit. This is a stupid way of doing things, and typical of how the British government is doing things these days.

My sick note ran out on 13th April 2015. I rang the surgery to have it renewed on 9th April 2015. I was told that because my doctor (Dr Wilshire) was on holiday until 14th April 2015, it could not be renewed until he returned to work. They also told me that no one else could sign a renewal for me.

The DWP sent me a letter reminding me of the need to send them a renewed sick note by 15th April 2015. They do this every time, and it is very helpful as sometimes I do forget when a sick note is reaching the end of it’s time.

I complained at the surgery and explained that the DWP need the new sick note by 15th April 2015, and that if they don’t receive it by then, my benefit will be stopped. I explained that if my benefit is stopped I will lose my home as the rent will not be paid. The girl assured me that she would get another doctor (Dr Lloyd) to sign a renewal sick note that I could pick up on 13th April 2015.

The sick note was NOT there as promised when I went to pick it up on 13th April 2015.

I rang this morning (14th April 2015) and asked for confirmation that my sick note would be there today for me to pick up. She would not give me that confirmation and told me she would see if the Doctor could phone me sometime this morning. I am now forced to sit here and wait for an alleged phone call that I seriously doubt will happen. Even if by some miracle, they do give me a new sick note today without a fuss, I cannot get it to the DWP by tomorrow’s deadline. This means my benefit will be stopped after tomorrow and I will be unable to pay my rent or council tax or any of my utility bills. My landlord will then evict me from my home and I will be on the street.

Thank you Great Britain. I’ve worked all my adult life and was attacked by a madman as a teenager but carried on working as best I could with a painful and inoperable spinal injury. I’ve paid my taxes and never committed a crime. I’m a white, English, single, middle aged, female, and as such, I’m of no importance to this government. As I walk the streets and try to find somewhere dry and safe to sleep, away from rapists, drug addicts and murderers, I will be considering who I would vote for if I was allowed to vote, which as a homeless person I won’t be, of course.

If I am not homeless by the time the general election happens, I will be voting UKIP. It won’t help me in my situation, but it might help someone from experiencing what I’m living through, in the future.

Because of STOKEWOOD SURGERY and their incompetence, I will now lose all my benefit, which is my sole income. This means my rent will not be paid. This also means my council tax will not be paid. Not paying rent and council tax means I will lose my home and become homeless.

For those who live in the area, I would advise you NOT becoming a patient at Stokewood Surgery.

 

Fluffy pyjamas and a day at the beach

Something happened today that has never happened before. Mother wanted to go out and visit Lepe Beach. We used to go there years ago; it’s a place she has loved for years. Today, I told her she either had to change her clothes, or remain in the car at all times.

Yeah, I was embarrassed.

This has never happened before. Although she’s never been the height of fashion, Mother would never have gone out in loud tartan fleecy trousers that look like pyjama bottoms. These days she doesn’t seem to care as much as she did. When I told her I would not walk down the street with her dressed like that, she was a little put out. We laughed about it, but she did end up staying in the car.

Some might think me harsh, but I see it as a little sign that she has begun to give up her hold on life. She’s 83 and due to her obesity, she’s quite disabled now. It’s as if, one by one, the little things that symbolise how we cling vibrantly to each moment of life, are being let go. She used to care how she looked when she went out in public. She used to take care to dress smartly and appropriately for a large woman, and we both used to express disdain at how women we saw out and about, were dressed. “I would never go out like that,” she would often say.

Well now she is, and it’s not just that I don’t like her dress sense. It’s what lies beneath that worries me. Do I keep trying to encourage her not to let herself go any more than she has done already, or do I just let her give up little by little? She’s a grown up after all, and has the right to make her own choices and live by them.  It’s just a shame to see how far she has fallen. It is true that there is no dignity in ageing, and even less in death.

On becoming a superhero

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Are you a woman under fifty? If so, prepare to receive a surprise gift on your fiftieth birthday. This gift is something you may have spent your younger years wishing for, and believing you could never have. It is however, something you will find out is nowhere near as cool as you think it would be. I love a superhero movie as much as the next person, and have often thought it might be cool to fly like Superman or Ironman, have X-ray eyes, or the power to become invisible. Well you can become invisible, and you won’t have to undergo any horrible painful tests,  there will be no need to drink a nasty tasting concoction, and no scary injections of dreadful chemical mixtures. What must you do, I hear you cry? It’s simple, just be a woman over fifty.

This phenomenon creeps up on you without you realising until it’s too late and then, bam, you’re invisible with no way back. Like a spectre you glide into crowded rooms unseen by those present until you throw a cup across the room and scream. You queue in stores and fast food joints and when finally you get to the front of the line, the sales person looks right through you and serves the guy behind you. Your fifty plus year old joints complain more and more, but you will never get a seat on a bus because no one knows you’re there.

Hoping to get yourself a younger toy boy? Forget it sister. Unless you walk down the street stark naked, singing a falsetto rendition of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins to get their attention, Most men will cease to notice you. There are some men who will notice you, but that will most likely be for all the wrong reasons. The fat, balding, paunchy, toothless, beer swilling, farting sofas will notice you, but only because they know that the younger and better looking chicks won’t give them the time of day. They’re trying to ‘settle for second best’ by trying it on with the invisible older women, and assume said women will be grateful for the attention.

I turned 53 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been aware of my superhero status for a few years now. My 83 year old mother and I have discussed this topic often and she reports to having noticed the same thing happening to her from middle age. She also informs me that this superhero status, once gained, is permanent. Once invisible, you can never hope to be seen again.  You are doomed to wander through your winter years like a ghost wandering a lofty mansion, the occasional grunt or shriek to shock people into wondering what the hell that noise was, and if their house is haunted?

This new found ability does have one or two advantages though, that help to temper the shock and disappointment. No longer must you spend hours wondering what to wear. No longer do you have to spend hours applying layers of make up. You don’t even have to bother shaving your chin or plucking your eyebrows anymore. Your middle aged spread can wobble unashamedly, and you can relax about the diet. After all, you’re now way passed such concerns. No, your priorities now are tracking down cut price life insurance deals, funeral plans, and dealing with bladder problems. The younger generation don’t know how sweet their life is, do they?

But of course, this is what society wants us to believe.

Why should we suddenly become invisible? What is wrong with our society, that a woman who has worked hard bringing up children, working, caring for elderly parents and useless husbands, is rewarded for her efforts with indifference and a yawn? Without us, the younger generation would not exist to enjoy the life they take far too much for granted, so why can’t they be grateful? Because that is the way of life today, that’s why. Old is a dirty word, something to be afraid of and avoided at all costs. In choosing not to notice us, they are admitting their fear of confronting their own mortality and the march of time. We cannot all be Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, with enough money to hire clever people who can help us come out from behind our cloak of invisibility. Most of us just have to accept that we no longer exist, and some of us will end our days alone, not found for weeks. Our mouldering corpses will still be sitting in front of the tv and finally, for a moment, we will no longer be invisible. The younger generation will shake their heads and mutter, “What a shame, how could an old person go unnoticed like that.”

Its seems the only way to stop this unwanted new superhero ability, is to become the neighbourhood weirdo, the crazy cat lady at the end of the street, the old bat who talks to her plants and probably has a body hidden in the cellar, “so the guy in bar told me.” Not all of us fancy any of those roles for ourselves. Most of us would like to be just as visible as we were when we were thirty years younger. We’re not asking for wolf whistles, (although that might be nice once in a while), we don’t want to be thought of as man eating cougars or new age converts embracing veganism. We want to be ordinary women, just like always. We want a smile, a nod, a “good morning.”

Is that really beyond the realms of possibility for a civilised society?

Happy New Year

I can’t believe how fast 2014 went by. I always thought it was an old person’s thing to comment on how fast the time is going, but now I’m doing it myself. Maybe that means that I’m now old instead of just middle aged. I don’t feel like an old person despite being 53 in a couple of weeks, I still feel 25 inside my head. I often look back and think, “where the hell has the last week gone?” It’s not just me experiencing this either, many people I speak to say it too.

2014 saw some changes for me, most of them welcome. My beloved car finally broke down and had to be sold as I could not afford to get it repaired. The head gasket had gone and I don’t have that kind of money. Having no transport meant I could no longer keep doing my job, which entailed me driving to different peoples’ homes to clean their house. This meant I’ve had to start claiming benefits, which is a laborious process designed to make you feel like a scrounger. It is taking forever, but I hope it will be all sorted soon.

My health problems have caught up with me more than ever before, and I spend a lot of time in pain. I have what is called a Pars Defect in my lumbar spine, which is now affecting my life far more than ever before. It seems to me that being forced to give up my job, which was very physical and left me in agony most days, was timely. It is nice having more time at home. Being able to lie in is a treat I haven’t experienced for years. It is a blow to my ego to  have to use a walking stick, but it does help a little so I try not to complain. I never realised how difficult it is to go shopping with a handbag, several bags of shopping, and still be able to effectively use a walking stick. It’s impossible, so I often find myself unable to use my stick. Luckily I can do the greater part of the grocery shopping online, which saves me having to haul too many bags on the bus.  That’s another thing, the bus fares around here are criminal!

2014 also saw my mother sell her house in Cornwall and move up here near me. I’ve been trying to persuade her for ages and am delighted that my persistence has finally paid off. She now has a lovely ground floor flat a couple of miles away, in a nice area near to all the amenities she did not have in Cornwall. It will also be nice to have someone to pop in for a coffee and natter a couple of times a week or go for a meal on a weekend. When she first announced she was moving away down to Cornwall, I felt very abandoned for a long time. It was weird and not something I expected to feel. It was not pleasant and although I got used to being so alone, I was always aware of how alone I was. She has been away visiting relatives for Christmas and New Year, so we will be out buying her some new furniture the moment she gets back.

My other excitement is that I am now a proud cat mommy. I named him Samelan, after the main character in my Sinclair V-Logs science fiction novels. He’s a beautiful stripey tabby and has the most hilarious nature. He has a foot fetish and will bite my feet and toes whenever I go barefoot, he likes playing football with his toys (and is a very skilled dribbler too), and is toilet training with the Litter Kwitter system. He doesn’t meow very often, but ‘trills’ all the time, and will reply when I talk to him sometimes. Every morning at 7am he wakes me up by trilling and batting me with a paw, after which he sits by my alarm clock as he knows I always reach for it to check the time before getting up. I’m fully expecting one day for him to learn to press the button on the top which lights up the clock face. I cannot express how much of a difference it has made to my mood, having someone pleased to see me, seeking my company, and eager for me to get home just to spend time with me. I’m sure he’s saved my life.

So what of 2015? I did make a New Year’s resolution to give up chocolate, and I am determined to stick to it. Rather than go on a typical diet as such, I have tried to introduce permanent healthy food habits, one at a time. Years ago I gave up sugar in tea and coffee. A couple of years ago I gave up milk in tea and coffee. Last March I gave up smoking, and this year I intend to stop eating chocolate in any form. It is an education trying to find desserts and sweet things that don’t contain chocolate. This substance seems to have infiltrated into every area of our diet. It’s even in breakfast cereals now, crazy. At the same time as I shall be learning to do without chocolate, I shall be eating more fruit and veg, which I already love so no problems there other than the cost of them. Once I have eliminated the worst stuff from my diet, I can turn my attention to reducing portion size. I hope to end this year with a far more healthy relationship with food, even if I have not lost a significant amount of weight (which would be nice too).

So far I have 2 novels to publish in the coming year. One is finished to first draft and the other will be finished to first draft within the next couple of days.  I shall probably participate in the July Camp Nanowrimo, as I have done in the past 2 years, which will take me to 3 books this year. I like to do 3 a year, it’s a comfortable workload for me.

I want to pay a little more attention to marketing this year. I am in the process of building a list of tweets that I can use with the new drip feed app I’ve found. Due to Feed 140 breaking down, I had to find another drip feeder, and Dropial is the only one I’ve found that allows you to build a list that will drip in a continuous loop. The only downside to Dropial is that it insists on the list containing a minimum number of tweets, so I’m busy building it at the moment. Once that is done, I want to blog more, and use all the other social media I am part of, a bit more often. I cannot afford to pay for advertising, so free social media is my shop window at the moment. I would like to do interviews, but no one is asking  – unless you’d like to interview me or do a spotlight for me?

One other thing I want to pledge to this coming year, is to begin re-editing and re-releasing my backlist. As time has gone on I have learned more, and I can clean up the early books and make them slicker and more error free. There is also one I want to do a new cover for. I want to do at least 2 of my older books this coming year.

As for other 2015 bucket list items, there’s always the following:

Meet Dwayne Johnson

Meet Vin Diesel

Meet Misha Collins

Have Peter Jackson talk me into allowing him to turn one of my books into a movie

Win more than a million on the lottery

Become a best seller for at least one of my books on Amazon

If anyone would like to help me achieve any of those items, let me know. In the meantime, I wish you all a prosperous, educational, and happy 2015.

The Inversion Method for hair and skincare

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I happened across a tagline a while ago that caught my eye – grow 1 inch of hair in 7 days.  Naturally, my first thought was something along the lines of “pffffffft, yeah right.”  Once I got that out of the way, I watched some of the youtube videos about it, and decided to give it a go.  It would cost me nothing except a few minutes time, so why not.

The inversion method is simple; you put your head upside down for five minutes, every day for seven days.  It’s as simple as that.  Some folks say to use oil in your hair and there is some debate about which oils to use etc, but my hair is really fine and any added oil just turns me into an oil slick.  I decided not to use any oil, and just to invert my head and do a bit of scalp massage while I’m down there.

What I did was to stand up, bend down to touch my toes, and remain down there for five minutes.  Now, this next bit is VERY important so take note.  Getting up must be done slowly and carefully or you will feel dizzy.  I have severe postural hypotension, so I have learned over the years to take care when getting up, even from lying down.  I’ve got into the habit of being careful, but anyone who isn’t used to taking care, TAKE CARE WHEN STANDING UP..!  You do this for seven days, once a month.  They say you should not be tempted to do this every day, as the body gets used to the extra blood flow, which will cease to have such a dramatic effect.  I don’t know if this bit is true, but I guess it could be.

Most of the folks in the videos and blogs I looked at, took pains to measure their hair before and after, but I didn’t bother.  Extra length was not really what I was after.  The science behind the inversion method is that the extra blood flow to your head during those five minutes, shocks the system, which then uses the extra blood flow that it does not normally receive.  It’s like your hair and skin suddenly says to itself, “hey guys, what’s with all this extra food?  Let’s party.”  Most people seem to get around one inch growth in the seven days.  What I thought was that all that extra blood flow would contribute to my hair’s health in all sorts of ways, so it might contribute to extra thickness huh?  At the very least, the extra blood flow would give the follicles a blow through, which can only be good right?

Okay, so what happened to me?   Well, today is the seventh day of my trial, and I have been able to tie my hair back for the first time in over a year.  A week ago it was too short to tie back,  now I have a baby ponytail that gets my hair off my neck in this horrifyingly hot weather.  I will  have to wait to find out if the thickness has been affected or not, but if not, I’m delighted to have seen some growth.

The unexpected benefit of the inversion method that I’ve found, is the effect on my facial skin.  During this seven days, the skin on my face has been extremely soft, much more so than usual, with no change in my skincare regime.  It makes sense when you think about it; all that extra blood flow to your head is going to have benefits everywhere on your head isn’t it?

I shall definitely be doing it again next month.  It’s worth a few minutes a day surely?

No I haven’t died, I just decorated my living room

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I bet you didn’t even notice I was away..!

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks or so, due to the fact that I’ve been redecorating my living room.  This was not a job that I was able to achieve in a weekend, due to the scale of the job, the fact that I was doing it on my own without help, and that I work during the day so had to do it in the afternoons and weekends.  Consequently, it took me well over a week and isn’t really finished now.

Everything stopped while the redecoration was happening, even my writing took a back seat.

I first had to move all my furniture into the centre of the room and cover it with plastic sheeting.  Although I pride myself on not being a hoarder, you never really know just how much shit you’ve accumulated until you have to move it somewhere.  I preceded this redecoration project with a mass clear out and took loads of stuff to the tip and gave other stuff away, but still there was loads to find temporary homes for while paint was flying around.  Having all my furniture in a huddle in the middle of the room and covered with plastic sheet, meant I was now without access to my sofa, table, coffee table, tv, radio etc, and had to ‘move into’ my bedroom for the duration.

I know my mattress isn’t the most expensive on the market but after ten days of both sitting on it and sleeping on it, I realise now what utter shit quality it is.  I had my laptop, which gave me access to the internet so I could watch movies and online tv, but eating meals on my bed and doing every single damn thing on my bed became old very quickly and it took days for my spinal injury to get back to its normal level of pain.

Having given up smoking on March 5th, and not having decorated this room for around ten years or so, it took three coats of white to cover the nicotine stained ceiling.  The walls had been a sort of butter colour, which Dulux poetically referred to as ‘Sundust’ and as I now wanted them a very pale grey, I had to cover them with two coats of white to make sure the grey stayed true.  This took a further two days, due to having to wait for coats to dry before doing the next coat etc, nothing is straight forward with decorating is it?  You can’t just get on with it until you’ve finished.  You always have to wait for some damn thing before you can do the next bit, very annoying.

Next I put the grey on the walls, which looked lovely.  This grey paint was extremely expensive  (£46 for five litres) so I only had enough for one coat and was extremely grateful that I had taken the trouble to white out the dingy yellow.  The grey is pale and has an almost china blue quality to it in a certain light.  Not what you would expect from grey at all.  I’m delighted with it.

The last people who lived in my flat put up some of that fancy S shaped coving in the living room, and I wanted to paint it black.  This took another two days alone, as it needed two coats, then I needed to go along the top and bottom with a tiny artists brush and touch up where the ceiling and walls met the edges of the coving.  After so  many hours of craning my next upwards, I doubt I’ll ever be able to look down at my toes again.  The attention to detail paid off though, as the effect is crisp, modern, urban and slightly 1930’s (says I who was born in the 60’s and knows nothing about the real 30’s).

Next was the woodwork, which is the one job I hate with a passion.  It took me two days to sand down two doorframes, a windowsill,  and a mile of skirting and my wrists are still weak and painful and the  skin on my right hand still hasn’t recovered completely.  The ball of my right thumb is still painful too.  Then came two coats of black gloss paint to finish off the job.  I then had to give it a day to begin to dry enough to put the furniture back.

I want to get new flooring for this room, so I ripped up the cream carpet that was down and hiked up to the tip with it all.  Then after hours of cleaning up and carefully putting furniture back, the room is eighty percent finished.  The floor has bright mexican orange linoleum tiles which was obviously installed by council workmen when the building was built, and although it does not ‘go’ with the colour scheme, I will have to live with it until I can save up for some new white vinyl flooring to complete my monochrome look.

I removed the two doors in this room.  The one into the kitchen will not be replaced as I never shut it and the bit of wall behind it is of far more use to me than a door I never close.  The one into the hall will be replace eventually, by one of those glass panelled doors which I hope will allow a little light into the hall, which has no windows and is as dark as the inside of a penguin’s arse.  I found curtains that blend with the look at very reasonable cost, and two of those nice fat tassel tie backs which are usually blood curdlingly expensive (why is a tassel so expensive?) for a tenner each (steps back in amazement).  A couple of black throws from Asda to cover my brown sofa and chair which I can’t afford to replace, and I’m happy with my room.  I just need to save for a new door and new flooring for it to be finished.

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With a slight rearranging of furniture, the room now looks much bigger than before and this new paint job is the only way I can afford to homage the art deco style I love so much. (Yes I know it probably is totally wrong for Art Deco, but it reminds me of it every time I look at it.)

Mother came up for a visit just as I finished and gave her seal of approval, which meant I had another four days of not being able to get back to writing.  Never mind, she paid for stuff at the supermarket so I’m not complaining.

Now I’ve been able to get back to writing, my current work in progress, which is a paranormal novel, has just passed 50k and should end up around 60k (give or take).  This story started out as a planned 4k short story for another anthology I plan to do, but as usual, my characters asserted themselves very quickly and told me in no uncertain terms that they make the rules, not I.  Being outside of my usual sci fi genre, it has been slow to write but a fun experience for me, and one that I look upon as a learning experience.  I can’t wait to see it in print.

Once the first draft of the paranormal novel is done, I can get to editing my next release, the first draft of which has been waiting patiently for me ever since November’s Nanowrimo, when I wrote it.  This is the third in my Sinclair V-Logs series and sees Sam face up to things he never thought he would ever have to deal with.  I’m planning to release it sometime during July.  Watch this space for further details.

I’m delighted with my newly revived living space, and look forward to doing the next room when I feel up to it.  It is good to be back writing; even though I was only away from it for a couple of weeks, it seems like ages and I’ve missed it and felt terribly guilty.  It has probably done me good though, I’ve certainly done a lot of thinking about my future as an author, but that’s for another blog.

New blurbs, New categories and more updates

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I’ve decided to take a few steps toward trying to build my brand.  I’m always the first to admit that I suck cock at promoting myself, and my efforts so far have proved a waste of time.  With lots of encouragement, and a kick in the ass from time to time from my facebook friend Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I’ve taken a couple of steps towards getting a bit more visibility for my brand.

The first thing I did was update my blurbs.  Although they weren’t bad, they benefitted from a bit of sharpening here and there, and I like the results, which you can see on my book pages here this site (in the nav bar up top).

The second thing I did was to add another category at Amazon.  Up till now, I’ve just placed my work in Science Fiction/Space Opera, which is what the book are, but I added Science Fiction/Action and Adventure.  Hopefully this will give them more scope to be found by browsers and may result in a sale or two.

Next, I re-did the keywords on Amazon.  Keywords is getting towards territory I know practically zip about, but after taking advice, I changed them, and I hope they help increase the number of times my work pops up in searches.  Fingers crossed.

I’m also trying to make more use of Pinterest, as I’ve heard that this place is a great venue for getting your brand noticed.  I’ve renamed some of my boards, and added a couple of new ones that give my pinterest a more science fiction angle.  I hope this will attract more sci fi type folks who may then decide to take a chance on my books.  You never know, it costs nothing to try huh?

I’ve finished the first full read through and edit of my next book, which is a stand alone science fiction romance.  This is the book for which I’ve invented an alien language, and because of this, the first edit took longer than it usually does.  I also took this opportunity to add words to bring each chapter up to my preferred 5k size.  This allowed me to expand in some places that needed it, to go into the characters’ thoughts and emotions in a deeper way, which was a challenge at times but such a worthwhile learning curve.  I hope to publish this in March 2014.

The last update I have, is that I’ve decided to put together another anthology.  This one will be more paranormal based than straight  horror, and I have the first two stories already.  As for size, I think twenty is a good number, it will give my anthologies a consistency if they all contain twenty stories.

On a more personal note, I’m celebrating having successfully persuaded my mother to sell up and leave Cornwall and come and live near me.  She’s 82 this coming July, and very obese, diabetic, and has damaged hips and knees.  Her nearest shop is a mile away, and she can’t walk anywhere near that far, and while it’s not a problem as she still drives, it won’t be long before she can’t drive anymore.  When that happens, she’ll be stuffed like the proverbial Christmas turkey.  If she lives near me, I can lend her a helping hand and keep her independent whenever she needs me.  I’m so relieved my months of nagging has finally borne fruit, and quite excited to see her get a nice place around here.

A few personal updates

Mother has now gone back home to Cornwall after her three week visit, and it’s nice to have a tidy flat once again.  Much as I love her, she’s a messy cow and my home quickly becomes a pigsty with her around.  She’s always been an untidy person, and now she’s getting on in years, she employs a cleaner, so she never has to suffer the consequences of her slovenliness.  She says I’m obsessive but I’m so totally not, I’m  just  much cleaner than she is.  They say two can live as cheaply as one, and that may be true but the rubbish I accumulate when she’s around is way more than twice what I produce alone.  Weird.

My mother has psychopathic personality disorder, which means she feels no emotional bond with anyone and never shows affection.  As a child growing up, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t seem to love me or take pride in me, and although I do understand now, I can’t go back and have happier childhood memories, I’m stuck with them.  She has never fought my corner or stood up for me in any way, and it was only a couple of years ago when she told me about her personality problem, that I was able to realise why.  I have many memories of her not being there when I needed her, and they won’t go away no matter how much I understand why she has always failed to be there emotionally.

What my mother does instead of show love and affection, is help financially.  It’s something she can do without having to open up emotionally, so I allow her to help me out whenever she wants to and I no longer feel guilty at her bailing me out.  I did very well out of her over Christmas, and it’s nice to be able to take her financial help without feeling a failure.  Now I can let her pay out and know it’s her way of being affectionate and the more she does it, the more affectionate she’s being.

Her lack of empathy makes her seem very judgemental sometimes, and she shocks me with her attitudes sometimes.  She can’t understand why people don’t behave like unemotional robots, and although I try to tell her that she’s the one who is different, not them, she just shrugs and changes the subject.  She can be maddeningly irritating and I’m often to be found biting my tongue when she’s around, but she is also funny and down to earth.

They say we’re a product of our upbringing, and I now understand more about why I find it so hard to interact with people.  Being autistic doesn’t help but having my mother as role model, made it even harder to grow up balanced.  I guess I should have become a crazed serial killer or something, I have many of the so-called ‘pointers’ according to all the tv shows.  Maybe we’re not totally a product of nurture after all.  Maybe there’s more to destiny than people like to believe.

Well, I am still battling with Talk Talk over my proposed broadband supplier swap.  The latest is that the problem with the exchange has now been sorted, and some guy is coming over on 16th to get me switched over.  We’ll see how that goes.

I’m still waiting for the new saucepans I bought on 29th Dec.  Having phoned Argos expecting a row, he told me I should receive them within the next 3 working days.  We’ll see about that too.  It’s been a right nuisance having to do all my cooking in the microwave due to no saucepans suitable for my new cooker.

Another funny thing – I was cyber bullied on twitter yesterday by a couple of assholes who did not like my blog about UK gun laws.  Funny how it’s always the aggressive bully types who wants guns to be freely available isn’t it?  Precisely the reason it’s good they’re not.