Thursday, 15 June 2017

In which I've become the kind of person who cries at things on TV

All my life, my Mum has been one of those people who cries at everything on TV. I'm talking about 'normal' stuff like weddings, births, and the less traditional, like adverts. Those old BT ads with Chris Marshall and family got her every time.

My Dad and I had always gently teased her about this, and she takes the piss out of herself too. I never got it, I'd watch these things dry-eyed. Some stuff does get me. When I watch The Middle it's a 50/50 chance I'll cry at the end of the episode. (It's mostly the warm and fuzzies when it's about Brick's 'quirkiness' or Mike actually talking about his feelings.)

Now, at almost 29, I think I get it. Throughout the big Grey's Anatomy rewatch my wife and I are having right now (currently Season 7) I've cried a couple of times about Callie and Arizona. Last night we finished the latest Season of Orange is the New Black. (SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED IT ALL YET, TURN BACK NOW!) When Piper proposed I suddenly said, "That's weird, why are my eyes so itchy?" Not that my wife fell for it for a second.

It was last night that really got me thinking, and not just because I was mocked the way I used to do the mocking. I am totally the kind of person who cries about lovely things on the TV, it just needs to be people I can actually relate to. If my Mum cries about almost anything on TV, that's because straight people are 99% of what's on TV. I'm only now realising I'm one of those people because the representation of WLW has never been so good.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What a difference the tense makes

I mentioned in a previous post the many false starts I've had lately, writing wise. At the time I thought I was past that, that I'd started something that would work out. Unfortunately that one didn't work either, and I was getting really frustrated. I'd been happy with some of the ideas I was working with, they seemed perfect, one is even something I've been playing around with for a couple of years. The other two that haven't worked out were ideas that I had while I was trying to aim at a particular thing. That may have been part of the problem, I usually just start writing and figure out the best plan for what to do with it once it's done. But this year I do have some goals in mind for what I'd like to write, and some of it is slightly different.

Already I've found that that can help, for instance, Away From Her was written with an anthology with a publisher in mind, and I self-published when it wasn't picked up. So far it is easily my most successful book. Still, this time around it isn't as easy going as that one was.

Last night, after several evenings of wishing I was writing, but not knowing where to begin, I once again started something new. It's from a rough plan that I wrote about six months ago, something that is connected to one of my novels, though it's too early to say what it is yet. Within the first page, I felt like something wasn't working, and that's when I realised what's been wrong this whole time; it's annoyingly simple. The tense.

For the projects I've tried and had to let go of for now, I had to try to write in the third tense. It doesn't come naturally to me, and it had been difficult but I hadn't noticed before that that was all that had held me back. As I'd been trying so hard with it, I automatically began this new project that way last night. Once I realised, and quickly changed the first page, I found I had a lot more to write.

It's frustrating how simple the solution actually was all along, but it's nice to know it isn't necessarily the ideas that have been the problem. Now I can go back to them in the future, and re-think them in the 1st person.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Why do you write?

Someone asked me recently, someone who doesn't write and was curious, why I write. It sounds like it should be a simple question, right? I opened my mouth and realised I didn't have anything to say. I've always written, I don't remember a time before writing. I remember starting my first 'novel' when I was eight. I wish I still had it because no doubt it would be hilarious to read now! All the main characters were named after members of B*Witched, their ages changed wildly throughout the story, and it was basically a bunch of random ideas roughly stitched together. I spent most of a year working on it. Funnily enough, none of that story has made its way into any of my current work.

It started earlier than that though. Back in early primary school, when I was 5/6, I used to draw these storyboard type picture stories. I don't remember anything about what those stories were about but I think I used to draw the same story over and over just for fun. It was probably stuff based on things I'd seen on TV.

No matter what else I've been doing in my life, I've always been writing in some form. I had a bunch of false start novels before I finally wrote Ways To Fall Apart and now realise that they are definitely a part of the writing life, there will always be false starts.

So, I write because I can't help it. I love it, it makes me feel good. I can't imagine not writing. As for the subjects I write about, I write what I do because it's close to my heart and it's the only way I feel capable of helping in the way I want to. I say it all the time, there aren't enough books/films that contain self-harm, depression, LGBT issues, especially without them taking place of a real plot. No matter what kind of story I'm writing, some of those are guaranteed to be in there. Even when I wrote a horror story last year that was very different from my usual writing, my MC was a lesbian ex-self-harmer.

I feel like this is something that a lot of writers might have a different response to, so why do you write?


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Blog Tour Stop: Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott


 Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen


DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.
CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.
MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.
WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.
When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind. Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.




Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving fan mail from across the world. Victoria loves high fashion, big cities, and pink cotton candy. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instragram | Goodreads


As soon as I saw the title and cover of Violet Grenade, before I even knew what it was about, I wanted to read it. We're taught not to judge a book by its cover, but the cover of this book is a thing of beauty, I couldn't wait. The only thing I'd say is that the premise gives away far too much of the story. I was quite shocked when I started to read, and realised that I already knew quite a bit of the direction the story would go in, so my advice would be to avoid reading too much about this book before you read it! Except for my review, you should read this, obviously. 

Domino - she is such a strong main character, her voice is clear from the first page. There is some mystery to her, with information drip fed in a way that gives you just enough, and keeps it interesting. I still could never have imagined the darkness this story gets into, which is some of its brilliance. Although Violet Grenade seems to be contemporary, it has a timeless air about it, it could be set at any time in some ways. In a similar aspect, there is a hint of magic, although technically there aren't any supernatural elements, it feels like there's something under the surface. 

The characters are overall very well written, and strong. In terms of interesting villains, there are few better than Madam Karina and Mr. Hodge. Until the very end I couldn't decide whether Madam Karina was genuinely a vulnerable, sympathetic person who was a little unhinged, or whether she was a manipulative, terrible person. We follow Domino through this journey of not knowing either, seeing everything through her eyes. 

As I mentioned earlier, Domino has a mysterious backstory that we find out along the way. The dark, brooding, love interest carries some dark secrets too, with a story that complements Domino's well, without being too similar. Sometimes Cain does seem a little too...romance hero-y, especially in Domine's descriptions of him, though it does sort of fit here.

When it comes down to it though, what I loved most about this book, and what really kept me hooked, is Wilson. I don't want to give anything away about Wilson, I'll just say that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who/what I thought he exactly is. I love his voice, and I think now that possibly we all have a little bit of Wilson inside of us.

So if you want an easy, simple romance try something else, however, if you want something more intense, with moments of serious darkness, that make you wonder what you would do in some extreme situations, read Violet Grenade. 




Friday, 12 May 2017

An Unusual Analogy

A couple of years ago, I did a 10K race. I walked it (I never got the hang of running!) but I got off to a bad start. There was a lot of build-up and excitement at the beginning of the event, they got everyone really psyched up and then everyone took off at a run. I didn't want to be alone, walking passed all the people cheering us on, so I ran too. It was a very bad idea.

Since I wasn't prepared for it, and I started off way too fast, in shoes not at all suited to running, my right leg began to hurt early on. From my right knee down to my toes, it hurt. It's easy to look back and know I should have stopped for five minutes, but I cared about my finishing time. Even though I wasn't running, and was barely racing against anyone else, I wanted it to be my best.

After a while, my leg went numb. It didn't feel like a bad thing, although I'm sure there is nothing healthy about it. It was sort of like dragging a moderate weight along with me, but it was better than the pain. When the feeling came back, with about 2 miles to go, it was hell. I longed for the numbness to return. By the time I finished, I was OK.

I tell this story because today I got to thinking about the cycle of depression, numbness, and cutting. I noticed a lot of similarities to what happened at the race. When I'm depressed (sad/tired depressed rather than numb/anhedonia depressed) I don't actually get many urges, in terms of my addiction it's probably the easiest time. The thoughts don't come the way they do at other times, and I feel so bad that I know it wouldn't make a difference anyway, along with the fact that it's hard o find the energy. As terrible as it is to feel that way, it's so much better than being constantly triggered and tortured by urges. It's a relief just as much as it's horrible.

Then that feeling begins to pass, after however long, and usually the first hint that I get that I'm feeling better is that thoughts of cutting begin to return.

Much like the pain in my leg, followed by the blissful numbness that still wasn't quite right, followed by the sharp pain - my body feels the same way. The cycle isn't quite constant. I do get breaks from it all, where I feel OK, I get to be happy, without being triggered, although that's is a rare combination. That just seems like an illusion when the cycle is going on.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Quietness

My whole life I've been described as quiet. Sometimes when I was younger, it was interchangeable with shy but mostly, it was quiet. From my first school parents evening until the last, (with only one exception when I finally had a teacher who understood and while she agreed, she didn't call it a negative as every single other teacher had), I was described as quiet. It reached the point where my Mum would often open with 'We know, she's quiet' and they would laugh or just agree. My parents found it funny because in their words 'At home she never shuts up'. Often during these parents evenings, the teachers would try to give me tips on how to improve. It was without a doubt a failing to most of them. They'd ask me to 'simply' put my hand up just once per class. They'd try and make me laugh about it. They'd try to appeal to me, say that if I didn't talk, how would they know how I was doing? (It didn't take long for me to think 'Not my problem, find a way, accept that every student isn't exactly the same). None of it worked, and by the time I left school, I'd long accepted that I wasn't going to change, mainly because I had no desire to. I'd stressed myself out plenty over the years trying to change because everyone told me I should, because it suited them better. I wish I'd realised earlier that it really wasn't my problem.

Even now I'm described as quiet at work. It's less often said as a negative now, luckily. I've come to realise that a big part of why people say that is basically because I don't talk about myself much. I don't feel the need to blather on about my life to anyone that will listen. Once I realised that, I realised just how many people do do that. It isn't always a bad thing. I mean, sometimes I do listen to people talk, the ones who really do go on and on about their lives, every tiny detail of every 'drama' going on in their lives, and I wonder how they have the confidence to do it. I'm not jealous, because I often find it boring, but I wonder how they can do it. If I talk even a bit to most people, there's a commentary in my head telling me no-one wants to hear it, it's a shock when they do. This isn't just a case of low self-esteem, often it does seem to be the case. Anyone who's fairly quiet, and plenty of people who aren't, can tell you that people who are loud or talk a lot will just happily interrupt and talk over you like they are the only person worth listening to. (They usually aren't.) I've also been called boring to my face, although that was because that person thinks someone who doesn't drink or do drugs is boring, and it made it really easy to remove her from my life.

It's also because I really don't enjoy small talk. I'm incapable of talking about the weather for more than a sentence. The things I am good at talking about, writing, certain TV shows that aren't crappy reality ones, mental health, basically what I write about here, most people don't want to talk about. I'm also just comfortable with silence, I don't have a need for conversation or to fill the silence, I'd rather sit quietly than have the stress of talking.

People make a lot of assumptions when you don't say a lot. A lot of people do assume I must be a boring person who has nothing to say. Like the time when I mentioned to my then-Manager that we'd had Indian take out the night before and I'd had a Korma (first one in ten years). He laughed and said 'Of course you had a Korma, I knew that's what you'd like.' Translation: 'You must only eat mild food because you don't brag all the time about eating spicy stuff like I do'. Or the time when one of my colleagues said that he couldn't get his head around all of my tattoos, they didn't fit with his image of me. Or when someone on a training course with me asked about my writing, and the next day he said he thought he found my stuff, but there was no way it could be me because there were stories about a lesbian biker gang. The room came to a goddamn standstill because no-one could believe it. He was expecting boring literary crap instead.

So, if you're a quiet person, don't take any crap from other people. It's OK to be quiet, no matter what the reason. You should only make changes if you're unhappy, and experiencing distress.
If you're one of the people who gives crap to quiet people, no matter how minor the crap, I hope you'll reconsider that now.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lost Sense of Pride

I've been on a diet for a while now, I know, pretty much one of the most boring topics there is! It's something I really hate talking about, because I just have no interest at all in it. When I have friends or family that are doing weight loss programmes, it feels like they've joined a cult when it's all they can talk about.

I'm not doing anything like that, just your standard eating less and exercising. In theory. The fact is, it's a lot harder than I expected, and I've been putting this off a long time because I thought it would be too hard. For the first few weeks, I did well. I cut my food intake down to a healthy amount, got up early to exercise four days a week, it was going well. It was something I thought about pretty much all the time, which sounds bad but it was sort of a healthy distraction from other stuff.

Then it all fell apart. I watched 13 Reasons Why, got severely triggered, and suddenly all my mind and body were doing all day was telling me all the things they wanted, that I couldn't give them. It didn't take long for me to cave a little, and the diet just kind of evaporated.

And now it's so hard to get back into it. The main problem I have, along with everything else that gets in the way, is that I rarely feel a sense of pride in restricting myself. It seems like most people have that and it helps keep them going. At first I did feel pretty proud, especially once I started to lose weight. Then when I started getting constant urges to cut, it really wore me down, and I started to lose that pride. So far, that hasn't really come back, though I know it will. I'll have to find some other way to stay motivated until then, after all, I have a ten mile walk coming up and it would be a lot easier to do with less weight on me!