Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New updates on old news

I can't believe it's been six months since I wrote a blog post. Six whole months without me saying a single word online (Yes, I know, totally shocking!) Fact is, I've hardly been online at all in all that time.

Being offline for so long has led to some good and some not so good ramifications.

Firstly, I needed to step away from all the online negativity and get some distance and objectivity. I won't go into details as previous posts have highlighted them. But I definitely needed to step away for a while. Problem was, I made the decision just after publishing my third book. (Yes I know, don't say it). So, the not so good side effect was that my new book went without any online marketing.

But never mind that because the good stuff that came from staying offline for a while has now put me in a position to be back here writing a new blog post.

So what's the good stuff?

I'm now working full time. Have been for the last couple of months now, and I love my job. I've even settled in enough to be able to get back to my writing in the evenings without being too tired. I also have a car again and the freedom it gives me is simply wonderful. It's a beautiful gold Honda CR-V estate and it drives like a dream.

Starting my new job after being on benefits was a difficult time. Normally, there is a four week run-on to help people into work, which means that benefits and rent will be paid until you get paid. There should also be an in-work credit payment to help with travel and work clothing and food until you get paid etc. Well, two days after I started working, every benefit stopped dead. I was left with nothing whatsoever and expected to simply get to work (on a train) and survive without a little help. Not only that, but the tax office decided (in their wisdom), again within two days of my having a job, that I was not actually entitled to any benefits for the last year, and promptly began bombarding me with letters demanding thousands of pounds.

I actually was entitled to the money, but they don't care about that, they know I can't take time off work to fight them and that the stress of it all would ensure that I just give in and pay them.

They are wrong.

I will be fighting them. I have told them on the telephone that should they want the money they 'claim' I owe, then we will have to discuss it before a judge, because I'm paying nothing until they prove I actually owe something. I'll more than likely lose this battle because as they say in America, 'You can't fight City Hall'. But whether I lose or not, the fight is worth it. Somewhere someone has to make a definitive stand at some point so it might as well be me. The courts are making quite a few common sense decision these days, so I think my chances of coming out of this battle relatively unscathed are quite high actually. I hope my work will be understanding should I need to take a little time off to go to court and fight for my rights.

Well, the last two years have been extremely hard, as you know from reading previous posts here. Health-wise, I've been a disaster. But... I'm doing okay. Still haven't been officially diagnosed with the four things that I know are wrong but at least the doctors have me on the right medications whether they refuse to diagnose me or not. I have been officially diagnosed with two things though. But these two things make no sense and no medications have been given to me for them.

1. They are trying to convince me that I have anxiety. I know I don't and everyone who knows me personally laughs when I tell them that anxiety is the diagnosis the doctor is trying to force me to accept.

2. The second diagnosis makes even less sense. I went for an MRI scan for my back because it doesn't twist or bend properly in the lumbar region, and also my shoulder blades are numb (caused by a fall from a height, landing on my shoulder two years ago and trapping a nerve). The MRI scan showed 'wear and tear' in my lower back (which was expected), and I am to have physio and pain management for it. However, the shoulder blade numbness... well, let me show you the conversation I had with a specialist in July regarding my back;

Him: We have good news. Your lower back is just showing some wear and tear. Nothing serious to worry about.
Me: I can't twist or bend my back doc, how is that nothing to worry about?
Doc: We'll send you for some physio, you'll be fine.
Me: What about my shoulder blades? Can you stop them being numb?
Him: Your shoulder blades are numb because of your feelings. Sort out your feelings and your back will be fine.
Me: Doc, my shoulder blades are numb because I keeled off a table and landed on my shoulder, cracking my clavicle and trapping a nerve and it needs fixing.
Doc: You'll be fine.
Me: It's been like this for two years, doc, it's not fine.
Doc:Your shoulder blades are reflecting how you feel.
Me: I don't feel numb doc, just my shoulder blades do. My feelings are perfectly fine.
Doc: Anyway, we'll send you for some physio for your lower back. In the meantime, take some paracetamol if you are in pain.
Me: Paracetamol? Doc, tramadol hardly touches the pain, what good is paracetamol going to do?
Doc: Try giving up smoking, losing weight and getting a healthier diet. Oh, and go swimming.
Me: What have those got to do with my back? Tell you what doc, never mind...


I have now been discharged as a patient. Still got numb shoulder blades and still can't twist or bend my lower back, but hey ho, if i stop smoking, lose weight, go swimming and eat healthily, my back will miraculously heal itself. Hmmm...

I'll leave things there as this post is getting long now (again). I just want to say one last thing... thank you all for the support you all gave me when I was at my lowest. It was a major help in getting me back on my feet and back out into the world. THANK YOU ALL!! 

Hopefully I'll be back again soon. Until then... take care and check out my books. They are over there in the side bar --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->


Sunday, 2 March 2014

New Release!!

It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here.

Forsaken, the final instalment of the Stealth trilogy is now available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords.



They’re back.

The reluctant allies, Elena and Thanatos, are back in this final instalment of the Stealth trilogy. Stuck in the Forsaken Realm and separated, they encounter many foes in their search for each other and the way back home.

Having solved the problem of the Xarthian army’s attempt to take control of the Physical Realm, Elena and Thanatos now face their greatest danger yet, the very gateway to damnation itself.

Follow their adventures as they are abandoned by the church, encounter devastation, and are forced to face their worst fears.


You can get hold of the book here:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Smashwords

I hope you enjoy it.


If you haven't read the first two book in the series, you can purchase a copy of them by clicking on their pics on the sidebar.







Thursday, 16 January 2014

Cover Reveal

Hi everyone

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

2014 is going to be a very busy, yet wonderful year.

There is a lot going on this year with regards to my writing. In fact, so much that if I try to tell you about it all in one post, then you'll never get to the end.

So, I'll keep this short and sweet, for now, and tell you about my new book. It's called Forsaken, and is the final book in the Stealth trilogy. The manuscript is with my editor, and she is working on it as we speak. So hopefully the book will be with us very, very soon.

I will post sample chapters and the blurb on my website in the next week or two, so keep an eye out for that.

So, I want to show you the new cover. Apart from my editor, family and few close friends, you are the first to see it.

May I proudly present the cover for my new book Forsaken:


If you are curious about the two books that came before this one, you can see them on the sidebar over there ---------------------------->
Check them out.

It's demon season!


Friday, 6 December 2013

Announcements and News

Hi everyone

There are lots of exciting things happening in the coming months.

The first one I want to tell you about is that the third and final book in the Stealth Trilogy is now finished! As I mentioned in my last blog post, I intended to use the National Novel Writing Month, in November, to finish some projects.

Well, I did just that.

Forsaken, the final Stealth book, is in the editing stages and will be with us very soon. As soon as the cover has been designed, I will be revealing here.

__________________

Important News

Mr Conrad Brand, a good friend and author, has teamed up with Save the Rhino International and they recruited many authors to contribute to a wonderful book. Proceeds of the book are to go to Save the Rhino International. 

It's for a good cause, as by 2026, there will be no more Rhinos in the wild, unless we all band together and help, in any way we can.

I am not one of the contributors, but I feel the cause is a good one, and so I will be buying my copy very soon. Please consider how far your small contribution will go towards saving these wonderful animals.

'Plight of the Rhino is now available in electronic format from amazon. Please join the cause (awareness of our wonderful wildlife and in particular the senseless poaching of the rhino) by sharing the news and buying your copy today. All in aid of Save the Rhino Int.

27 beautiful contributions that will entertain you thoroughly!'


You can find the e-book on Amazon UK HERE and US HERE 

The artwork on the cover is beautiful and was drawn by another good friend, the talented artist Elaine McKenna. 




And Finally

I have recently learned of an amazing event that is going to happen here in England next April.

The first annual convention to celebrate independent authors. Yes. you read that correctly.





AuthorConUK 2014 is going to be in Manchester on 26th April 2014. The event is being sponsored by The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.

I have booked my table and I will be there.

It's an important and exciting event for me, as it will be the first time I have ventured out of the internet with my books. Very nervous about it, but it's time to take that plunge and get myself out there.

Hope to see some of you there!! More information and news nearer the time. 






Sunday, 10 November 2013

It's Nano time again

News, news, news!

It's that time of year again. 

No, not Christmas. 

It's November, which means it's National Novel Writing Month. Each year people from all over the world take part in a writing sprint, to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I took part last year, to let off some creative steam, and I wrote the 50,000 words and won. What I wrote last year was a mish-mash of rubbish that I don't intend to publish at all. But I still did it, and it was a lot of fun.

I wasn't going to enter this year, because I have so many writing related projects on the go right now, that I wouldn't have time to do a 50,000 word sprint of crappy gobbledygook. 

But I entered anyway. I decided to use the nano sprint to finish my current projects. We are on day 10 of the nano now, I'm 16,362 words in, and one project is finished and is now in the editing stages.

Last years nano was a rushed, frantic frenzy of activity, where we were all panicking to get each daily word count finished. This year though, the whole event feels like a gentle relaxed walk. It's not as much fun as last year, as I am definitely putting more thought and effort into what I write this time around, as this years various projects will be published when written, edited, re-written and edited again once the nano has finished.

Due to my various illnesses and problems over the last year, which I won't go into, as you already know all about them, my writing has suffered a lot. I have neglected it shamefully. But I'm hopefully back on track with the writing now, and will have all present projects finished by the end of November. 

Other news

I think winter is here. I mean, damn! It's cold! I've been hearing reports of snow in certain areas where my online friends live, but we haven't had any here in Manchester yet. It's certainly cold enough though. I hope, if it does snow, that it does it properly this year. I hate, hate, hate that slushy stuff that pretends to be snow for only seconds and then... just isn't snow any more.  

Other other news

I've finally found a creative writing group in my area. I accidentally ran across it on Facebook, and decided to attend one of their meetings. It was interesting, and I will try to attend regularly. Online groups are great, but there is no substitute for the real thing. 
The funny part is that this local group had been going for 50 years, but I've never heard of them before. I'm surprised it isn't more well known, or easier to find, both online and off. To correct this, I am going to tell you about it. It's called the Monday Night Group, and is based in the City Centre in Manchester. 
If you're in manchester and fancy joining a creative writing group, then pop along. Here is their website for you:

The Monday Night Group 

More other news

Not sure if any of you were aware, but the Million Mask March was on 5th November. All the groups, anonymous, occupy etc got together to organise, all over the world, peaceful demonstrations. I was unable to attend, but followed their progress online, and I just wanted to give them a big shout out. You guys were awesome!! The turnout was great in every city that was involved. The press should be ashamed of themselves for not covering it properly. 
If you are wondering what the Million Mask March was all about, you can find videos and news articles all over the internet. Just google 'million mask march.'

Well, that's it for now. See you next time.

Please take part in a 3-minute silence today in remembrance of all who lost their lives in the line of duty. We shall never forget!

.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Goodreads have been ever so naughty!

I was going to write a post called 'Whisperers are Liars'. This would refer to a hate blog by my stalker troll. Remember her? She is an indie author who hates indie authors, and uses her blog to mock and lie and generally be as nasty as she can. She thinks she is hip, and funny, and uses gifs like a twelve year old. In actual fact, she is around the same age as me, and she is a mother. Since she got kicked off Goodreads, her mental state has gotten worse, and her blog has become so... scattered and incomprehensible. She must have noticed the drop in 'hits' on her blog. That is because, my little stalker troll, the authors you target have stopped going to your blog to see if you have mentioned them in a nasty way this week. Haha. That woman is only a danger to herself and her children these days. Therefore, I changed my mind with regards to writing about inconsequential people out to hurt others.

I decided to write my blog post about the biggest news to hit the internet over the weekend. The massive fraud by Goodreads, the website that encourages readers and authors to meet. The bullies would have you believe that Goodreads is for readers only, but guess what? It isn't. Take a look at this direct quote, given by Otis Chandler, the owner of Goodreads (before Amazon bought Goodreads) in this video:

 “We’re in the media business today. We’re in the business of helping authors and publishers market their books to readers. And that’s where we make our money. We sell book launch packages to authors and publishers and really help accelerate, build that early buzz that a book needs to succeed when it launches and accelerate that growth through ads on the site.”
- Otis Chandler, founder of Goodreads

So, there you have it. The bullies are wrong. No surprise there of course. But let's get to the nitty gritty of what this post is about.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about Goodreads. Specifically, their troll problem. These trolls go around Goodreads in packs and attack authors by giving their books nasty shelf names, extremely scathing reviews that don't mention the book that the trolls gleefully admit to not having read anyway, and giving books one star.

I guess for the trolls, this is fun and exciting in their otherwise boring lives. But for the author, it can be so devastating and nasty, that they stop writing. These bullies don't just stop on Goodreads. They have blogs where they mock, lie outrageously and trash the authors, for no other reason than the author came into their sights for some perceived slight. This slight can be something simple, as in my case, where I was targeted due to being a friend of an author on their shit-list. Other authors are targeted for mentioning the bully problem on their blog, like this author, Nathan Bransford. They didn't just attack him on his blog. They all went to Goodreads and trashed his books, then followed him to twitter and harrassed him there as well. In effect, what they did was deny the bully problem existed whilst totally proving his point. 

Here are a couple of examples of what just three of them did to my books, for no other reason than I knew an author they hated:




It doesn't much matter why they do this. The fact that they do it is bad enough. The questions I wanted answers to were: 

Why do goodreads allow it? 
Why do Goodreads refuse to do anything about it?
Why do Goodreads lock authors out of their Goodreads accounts if they complain?
Why are those author accounts left live, to be battered all over again, and the author not being able to defend themselves against the onslaught?
Why are there so many 'unclaimed' author accounts?

That led me to thinking about all the author accounts that don't have authors to manage the accounts in their names. All those author accounts that go 'unclaimed'. Why would Goodreads have all these accounts and refuse to delete them once they have kicked off the author?

None of this made sense, so I began looking into it more closely and mentioning it in one of the groups I am in on Facebook. Then all of a sudden, I was catapulted into a small secret group on Facebook, and I found out the answer. 

M.T Dismuke, a fellow author, had figured it out. Along with a couple of other members (not sure if these two women wish to be named at this time) we began to fact check and investigate his claims in earnest. What we found was mind-blowing in its simplicity, and massive in its implications. M.T's claims totally explained all my questions in full.

The website named STGRB (Stop The Goodreads Bullies) reported our findings here:
 

and it makes for damned good reading.

I urge you to read about this massive fraud, and help us to report it to the FTC, so that Goodreads can be officially investigated and criminal charges brought. Hopefully, the disgusting troll problem they have can then finally be brought to an end, and authors will be able to have opinions and a voice once more, without the fear of a pack attack on their books.






Thursday, 1 August 2013

Updating the updated updates!

Hello again

I thought it was time to update everyone on things. The 'Final Post' blog I wrote way back in February is still getting an average of 100 views a week on its own, even after all this time, which is wonderful. I'm still in awe of the support and messages received at the time, and I read them now and again to keep my spirits up. It's been a long few months, with various up and downs, that have kept me extremely busy in one way or another.

So, an update:

I am still unemployed, and am now on the work programme. After a few little disagreements between myself and the work programme people, ie, me refusing to sign anything, them threatening me with sanctions if I didn't, things like that, things settled down there and I now have a permanent advisor for the next two years. I'm hoping that I won't need a work advisor for the next two years, but we'll see how things go.

My advisor is actually quite nice, and is extremely confident that I will be able to find permanent, paid work in the very near future, and he has me applying for some pretty nifty jobs. I'm waiting to hear from said jobs, and I hope they can see, from my CV, that they will gain an employee who will be hard working, eager, professional and loyal.

Anyway, that's mostly the good news. The bad news is that I walked the hour to the job centre to sign on, on the 16th of July. I was feeling quite poorly that morning. I had been feeling my lungs sticking to my back in the few days prior, and it was a struggle to breathe. I'm supposed to sign on at 11.40 am, but at 9am I had a funny turn, where I was dizzy, and my temperature shot up so quickly I almost passed out. Breathing was strange, as I knew I was getting a small breathe, but it felt like I wasn't getting any air at all. I don't have asthma, as the doctors ruled that out. So I sort of panicked there for a minute and sat down until the sensations passed. It felt like my upper chest cavity had filled with air, and it was very painful.

I really wasn't feeling well enough to walk all that way to sign on, but knew that I had already been ill twice in the last 12 months, and would not be allowed to be ill again. The rules state that you can only be sick twice in any 12 month period or your benefits stop and you have to apply for other benefits, which delay your payments, which I couldn't afford to happen. So I had to set out and do the walk. It was an extremely hot day as well, one of the hottest of the year. 

So, there I was, a lung infection blossoming, a very hot day, difficulty breathing, and an hour long walk. Is that not a disaster waiting to happen or what?

I got to the job centre early (I had set off extremely early as I knew it would be slow going). Because I was early, I had to wait. They made me stand there for 20 minutes. Not so unusual, of course, but I was obviously unwell. I had a massive sweat going on as my temperature had risen again, and I was swaying where I stood. I told the 'guards' that I needed to sit down before I fell down, but was told I wasn't allowed into the centre proper (where the chairs are) until 5 minutes before my signing on time. So I stood there, sweat dripping everywhere and my body sagging with fatigue. 

I managed to hold it together long enough to sign on and get out of the place. Fifty yards up the road, I had to sit down on the floor, and found I couldn't get back up again. My upper chest cavity felt like it had filled with air again, and it was very, very painful. I knew it wasn't a heart attack or anything, and that I just needed to sit down for a while. Then I could walk home. 

I had managed to sit near a car, and its owner saw me in distress. She spoke to me and she called an ambulance. The first responder came within 2 minutes (is that wonderful service or what?) and set about helping me. I told him my symptoms and he began treating me for a suspect heart attack. I kept telling him it wasn't my heart, but my lungs that were the problem, but he stuck to protocol. An ambulance arrived and they helped me inside and began treating me, again for a suspect heart attack. I again said it was my lungs and the hot day. They stuck to their training though, so I shut up at that point and let them get on with it. They would find out soon enough that my heart is healthy.

At the hospital I was seen and they ordered me a bed in the observation ward. I had to have blood tests 6 hours apart, so needed to stay. At 3am I was finally told what I already knew. My heart was healthy and I was in no danger of having a heart attack. They said I could go home. I stood there, looking at the doctor, and had to rein in my temper before I spoke. I told the doctor that I knew all along that my lungs were the problem and could they now treat that? No, my heart is fine they said, and sent me home. Haha. The taxi at 3am cost over ten pounds, so have been struggling a bit this last fortnight. Luckily, I'm well again now, and will be paid on Friday, so can do some shopping.

That long story you just read condenses down into this: 

I still can't get a diagnosis!! Grrrr! 

All I want is to get a diagnosis and be given the right treatment so I can be well when I get a job. I have to see the nurse tomorrow for blood tests, but they will come back normal, as every other test has up to now. Apparently I'm perfectly healthy, even though I collapsed in the street and can't take a deep breath. 

Well, I've waffled on for ages, and have loads more to say, but will keep the rest for another blog on another day.

Despite my problems getting a diagnosis, I want to make it clear to any government officials that might be reading this, that my treatment at the local NHS hospital was superb. It's disgraceful that you are selling off our national treasures to line your own pockets. How dare you! I will make a blog post about the government and their disdain for the ordinary person soon. 

Stay tuned, and please feed the fish before you leave.