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I Hate Yous

‘I hate you’ is one of those things that gets said in two ways, both full of meaning and emotion. The one where it’s the truth, which is hurtful and more often than not mutual. And the one where it’s the opposite of the truth, and it’s just a joke and both parties can laugh at it.

Someone I care a lot about told me they hate me a couple of days ago. And I’m not laughing. I am hugely upset still, to the point of it affecting my work.

To give some background, this is a longstanding friend, who I know has some issues that often present with a very negative self-image. And I worry about them because of that. The chat we were having friendly and a bit silly about writing and delivery methods, and all was fine. Then a comes a message that says how this friend feels underappreciated. I was ready to sympathise, there is nothing worse than that feeling. Then I read on about how my lack of respect was damaging their self-worth and making them unhealthy. While sitting stunned to read that, another message came in that simply said: “I hate you”.

I was gobsmacked. Didn’t know where any of that had come from. I was also deeply, deeply hurt.

From where I was sitting, we’d gone from a light-hearted discussion to one about serious mental health issues. This friend and I have had lots of silly conversations over the years, joking conversations, but this didn’t feel the same at all.

I tried to rationalise that it had been sent to the wrong person. They couldn’t mean that. So, I waited for some indication that this was a mistake or a joke. None came. After a while I replied with “Wow – okay”, because I was so shocked. I hoped that that would break the silence and they’d come back to me so I could understand what was going on.

I left it for a few hours thinking that the friend had to have been distracted, and they’d come back and say they were joking. But I heard nothing more, I thought oh my god, they mean it. They actually mean they hate me.

So, I responded that after thinking about it, that what had been said was unexpected and hurtful, and if they felt that way, then it would be best to call a halt to the association.

That friend has now come back saying they were joking. No ‘Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way it was meant as a joke.’ No, just ‘I was joking’. They claim it was all a continuation of the silliness before, and how could I possibly not see that? Only it didn’t flow, it was a change of topic, and it didn’t read like a joke.

They said that they are sorry I saw it as I did. Implying I’ve got it all wrong.

That they can’t believe that I would think it was a serious message. Indicating I’m the only one at fault.

They say to take it seriously I can’t know them as well as they thought. Again, blaming me while showing no indication of knowing me at all.

That I’m not as good a friend as they thought. Well that cuts both ways, pal.

They say that they can’t read my mind via text, demonstrating no understanding that I can’t read theirs either.

I really care about this person, and am shocked by the level to which they are prepared to try to put the misunderstanding entirely on me without taking a single iota of responsibility. The failure to demonstrate understanding that someone else might not see things exactly as they do is what I’m finding most painful. The dip into mansplaining didn’t help much. Friendships can’t be a one-way street, there has to be give and take. No two people ever see everything the exact same way. We all have to make allowances.

I want to remain friends with this person, but I want to see them take responsibility for their own words. To actually say they are sorry without implying that it’s entirely my fault while they stand blameless.

I don’t want grovelling, no promise not to do it again (that’s an impossible promise to keep anyway people often misread others), no overblown protestations of friendship. A simple, quiet sorry is all it would take, but I don’t expect I’ll get one.

Since writing the above the friend has now come back to tell me that it’s all down to my ‘failure of humour’, that I was hostile in trying to explain why I didn’t see it as funny, and that I don’t understand them. So, apparently, it’s all my fault, none of theirs and I mean nothing to that friend after all. Shame.

p.s. The friend mentioned doesn’t follow this blog. So, no this wasn’t written with their reading it in mind. This is me expressing my feelings and not expecting any response from anyone. That after all is why I started blogging, to scream into the void.

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Weird Crastinating

You know what procrastinating is right? You may even be doing it right now by reading this blog. I know I do lots of procrastinating, because it’s easier than doing the actual work, or at least it feels like it.

You may even have heard about procrastabaking (the art of baking instead of doing what you really should be doing)? I’ve done plenty of that over the years too.  Good for procrastinating, but bad for the waistline. 

But did you know there’s such as thing as precrastinating? I only heard of this today. Precrastination is the inclination to complete tasks quickly just for the sake of getting things done sooner rather than later.

Pro- or pre-crastination is problematic. There are cliches for both. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

But if you can pre- and pro-crastinate, it begs the question, can you just crastinate? Interestingly, yes, you can crastinate. To crastinate is actually to procrastinate. It is simply an obsolete form for the word procrastination.

So, does knowing this now overwhelm you? Underwhelm you? Whelm you?

Anyway, what I’m taking a long time to say, is words are weird.

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Write Back

I’ve had a really packed few weeks, and being able to work off my laptop is an absolute must. My life is on this laptop in one way or another. So when finally the last of the festivals* was done, I was looking forward to spending a fair amount of time alone with my laptop to catch up on some things.

Then my laptop died.

Well, it didn’t exactly die. The battery started to expand, which is as good as dying because that can lead to the battery exploding and fires and big trouble, and you’re not supposed to used them at all once you spot the problem.

I only brought the laptop in July last year – because the previous one (three years old) died when the battery expanded. So thankfully, I could get the battery changed under warranty, so I called the supplier and they agreed to sort out the repair at no charge. So I downloaded all my documents onto a hard drive and took it to the shop. The bad news was that it would be away for a whole week (turned out to be 8 days).

In the meantime, I had to resurrect an old Samsung laptop I have. It’s ten years old, brought when Windows 8 was first released. I haven’t even turned that laptop on in years, so it took two days of updates to get it to do anything, and it turns out that doing anything with images is beyond its capacity. Well, to be honest, that’s not entirely fair, it could do stuff, but so slowly it was painful, definitely beyond the endurance of my patience. Thankfully, though, it was good enough to let me do the last edits on my current WIP, so I am very grateful I hadn’t got rid of the machine. If I hadn’t been able to do that, I would have been totally stressed out by now, instead, I’m feeling good for having sent the manuscripts to my publisher.

Anyway, I now have my lovely ‘new’ laptop back and I can really get on with all I need to do.

So happy to be reunited with my best work tool.




* Gwyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, then Narberth Book Fair, then CrimeFest.

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Book Review – The Snowdonia Killings by Simon McCleave

Blurb

Starting a new life in Snowdonia was always DI Ruth Hunter’s dream. Until a twisted killer turned it into her worst nightmare. 

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Snowdonia Killings is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth. If you like dark police procedurals, psychologically complex characters, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Simon McCleave’s pulse-pounding debut novel.

My Review

Okay, hands up, who hasn’t wanted to kill a teacher/headmaster?

There’s a fair amount of setup to read before the first murder, but it’s totally worth it. By the time we reach the first killing, the reader already thinks the victim deserves it and there are plenty of natural suspects. The second killing is less obvious, but again, not without good reason. 

Ruth acts as the readers way into this book. From her life in the Met and Peckham, her personal backstory (I won’t spoiler it for you), and her decision to move to the quiet life of North Wales, she gives a good insight into what it’s like to be the incomer (as I was when I first came to Wales, and I believe as Simon McCleave was when he wrote the novel). It’s awkward and difficult to find your space, but Ruth does this well forming a great partnership with DS Nick Evans who wants her there in opposite proportion to how much he wants his next drink.

Nick’s drinking is an interesting choice here. Though it is a bit of cliché to have a heavy drinking police officer, Nick is attending AA. He doesn’t seem to be working it through most of the book, but he’s attending. While he is a functioning alcoholic, these things never go as unnoticed as the drinker thinks it does. So, while Ruth sees all the great potential in Nick, she also sees the problem.  But can she open his eyes to it?

Annoyingly for me, I figured out who the killer was quite early in the book, and I kept hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t, but that didn’t spoil it because when the killer is finally revealed and we see all the blind alleys and misdirections, the killer’s motivation is solid and understandable. There’s a real sense of feeling that while murder isn’t justifiable, the reader understands what drove the murderer to it. It makes sense, and that’s always important in crime fiction.

This book is a great introduction to the characters and their lives, and the fledgeling professional relationships that they are building. The text also gives a good sense of place too. By the last page, the reader is comfortable with the two main leads and really likes them, while at the same time wondering how things are going to carry on.

This was a really satisfying read, and I would highly recommend it.

Bio

Simon is a million selling crime novelist. His first book, ‘The Snowdonia Killings’, was released in January 2020 and soon became an Amazon Bestseller, reaching No 1 in the Amazon UK Chart and selling over 300,000 copies. His subsequent novels in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller Series (11 so far) have all ranked in the Amazon Top 20 and are Amazon Best Sellers. He has sold over a 1.25 million books since 2020. The Chirk Castle Killings, Book 12, will release on June 28th 2020.

The Dark Tide, new Anglesey series for Harper Collins, has just been released at reached UK top ten in Kindle Chart.

Simon is currently in negotiations to make the Ruth Hunter books into a television series.

Simon McCleave was born in South London. When leaving University, he worked in television and film development. He was a Script Editor at the BBC, a producer at Channel 4 before working as a Story Analyst in Los Angeles. He worked on films such as ‘The Full Monty’ and television series such as the BBC Crime Drama ‘Between The Lines’.

Simon then became a script writer for television and film. He wrote on series such as Silent Witness, Murder In Suburbia, Teachers, Attachments, The Bill, Eastenders and many more. His film, ‘Out of the Game’ for Channel 4 was critically acclaimed – ‘An unflinching portrayal of male friendship.’ (Time Out)

Simon lives in North Wales with his wife and two children.

Simon is also incredibly tall as I found out in CrimeFest this year – but then I am a bit of short-stop at 5’5”. (Simon is 6’ 4”)

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Implements

I’ve noticed something odd today. Firstly, I know it’s been a while, sorry. My time has been taken up doing things for others and I simply haven’t been able to keep up.

The odd thing I noticed today is that I’ve started keeping special pens/pencils for certain things I write down. Usually I just grab the nearest writing implement and use that, but lately I find myself having to go to get the ‘right’ pen. As you can see in the picture, these aren’t particularly special pens.

There’s a standard hp pencil and a blue biro. These I use for tarot readings (I’m learning them for a character I’m working on). The two multicoloured pencils I use for when I’m working on “Save The Cat! Writes A Novel”, I like to use different colours for different types of notes. The black one at the bottom is the one I’ve started using for drafting one of the books I’m working on. Stuart Feild gave this to me at CrimeFest a week ago. It’s just a really nice writer.

What isn’t a nice writer right now, is this laptop. The usual laptop I use is a HP, but early this week I discovered that the battery was expanding, which is extremely dangerous. So that laptop (only 10 months old) has gone for warranty repairs. This means that I am now working on an old Samsung laptop. When I say old – it’s running Windows 8 and I remember I brought it when Windows 8 was first out, so it’s at least 10 years old. It works, but it is so incredibly slow! I’ll have typed to the end of the sentence and then have to stop to wait for the words to show up on screen. Very frustrating. Still, I have something to work with and for that I am grateful. But right now, I’m going back to pencil and paper; it’s less frustrating.

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Sinkhole

I’ve been struggling at a time when I really didn’t expect to. We’ve been waiting upward of ten years for a new kitchen and we’re now in the process. It’s nearly done, three weeks so far, two more to go.

But it’s doing my head in. There’s been mess everywhere, not just the kitchen, but the entire ground floor. It’s not a big house, but to unify it all, the flooring runs from the front door, through the sitting room, and into the kitchen diner. That means because we’ve had to change the kitchen floor, we’ve had to change the rest of the floor, which is why we’ve had to clear the ground floor.

I’ve tried working while stuff is going on, but it’s proved impossible.

The hardest thing as far as living is concerned is not having a kitchen sink. I can’t get to have a drink of water easily, if I cook pasta (yes, the hob is back in now, yay!) I’ve got to fill a jug a couple of times to fill the pot, then I’ve got nowhere to drain the cooked pasta, so I have to get another large saucepan to drain it, then carry that to the garden to pour it down the outside drain.

Against expectations, I could have lived without the hob longer than living without the sink. Can’t wait for the plumber to arrive. I’m hoping Monday, but I have a feeling it’s Tuesday.

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Different Reading

I’ve mentioned on here before that I have tarot packs. I’m not using them on a frequent basis and I don’t put more faith in them than I should, but I do find them very interesting. I also use them for the writing of my latest WIP.

Today I did two readings.

First I asked the pack that I use for my characters pack, what card I should use to represent the next crime book in my series. It gave me The Magician, card 1 of the Major Arcana. I instantly started to see the story that I need to put together for that book, which is a relief because I was feeling blocked on the way forward with it.

The second reading was with my usual pack, the pack that I’ve been using for personal guidance for several years now. This I asked about the book series and if I was doing the right thing. The answer I got from that daily spread was most encouraging. Even though I pulled The Devil in one position, this is not the disaster that many would think, it was simply a warning not to go to extremes, to make sure that I maintain balance in my life, which in all honesty, is fair warning.

So I’m happy with those readings, inspiration and reassurance.

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A Year in Books

Anyone using Goodreads to record what they’ve read in the year? I’ve just been through mine and found it really interesting. Stats are below just for those interested, but the numbers aren’t what I found interesting. What I learned is that even I think comic books are a bit of a cheat on this target, but I still like reading them and I will record them because reading matters and if ever you have someone who struggles to get into a book, give them a comic. I do count the audible as equal with reading, because if I actively listen, it takes as much effort as reading and if my eyes hurt, it’s a better option. I also found that when I checked my listening history for the year, I’d missed recording 3 on Goodreads, which I’ve now rectified. I also haven’t listened to half so many as I expected because I don’t commute anymore. So I’m kind of wondering if Audible is worth keeping up in 2022, I’ve a library of books I’ve yet to listen to. So I did beat my reading target, by how much, you can judge for yourself.

Here are the stats:
Target: 48
Books: 39 (physical or ebooks)
Audible: 10
Comics: 21

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NaNo Help

Like many thousands around the globe, I take part in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that means, it’s an American-led scheme for encouraging creativity and literacy, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Suspect most of you might have guessed that from the banner above.

The idea is that you write a 50k novel in one month – the main event is always November too. The ideal is that you write draft one of a novel, that way, to meet the 1,667 words a day average you need to reach the target, most writers have to just write, no editing or tidying up, you just bang out that first draft. Having said that I know one writer who’s averaging over 6k a day and I have no idea how she manages that.

This process has proved successful for me in the past, both Locked Up and Locked In were written as NaNoWriMo projects. Last year I wrote “Play The Game” which was a new draft of a previously written book, one that I had all the research and plot lines sorted on, but didn’t like the way I’d written it originally, so I started from scratch and that book is now out on submission. But this year I didn’t have a novel in mind because I’m working on a number of different projects and I didn’t want to start something new. So this year, I’m doing things a little differently.

I’m using a Scrivener File (it’s an alternative to Word that works really well for novel writing – well it does for me anyway), see more about Scrivener here. I’ve called it “Scenes in My Head”, and what I’m doing is that I’ve put in chapters for each book and put the scenes in the relevant chapter for pushing to the right project when I’m ready. So, as I see a scene that needs writing, I write it.

So far I am averaging 2,326 words a day! I am well chuffed with myself.

I have written 6,304 words to finish the first in a series of police procedurals with supernatural undertones that I’ve decided to try. I’ve written 16,560 words of the second book too. I’ve also managed 12,029 words of the first of a new steampunk trilogy. These scenes are being written out of sequence and from any book as I fancy writing it. Several times now I’ve written scenes from different books on the same day. One day I actually managed a scene from each book, which rather reassures me that the scatterbrain approach works for me.

In total, that’s 34,893 words in 15 days.

I should say that all these numbers are so precise because Scrivener gives them to me, I don’t go counting and adding up, that would be too much like hard work.

The point of all this is actually to say that this is one of the easiest NaNoWriMos that I have ever done, and mostly that is down to (a) I’m working it in a way my brain can cope with – jumping from story to story that excites me rather than slogging through the tough patches, and because (b) my mental health is, general and genuinely, so much better this year.

What that means is that I’ve pushed on with three writing projects that had started to stagnate and I’m really pleased with that, because that in turn, helps my mental health be positive. So on to NaNo-ing and hopefully this will see three more projects ready for submission in the new year.

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Blurred

My eyes are deteriorating with age and over use, but lately the blurred vision has nothing to do with physical conditions.

You see I am working on a manuscript that I know has a heart of gold. It’s a great idea and well worth the effort, if I can only see the story it’s meant to be.

The problem is I had an editor look at it and that editor clearly hated it and didn’t understand what I was trying to do, and didn’t hold back in what they said in their comments. Now, all I can see of this story is a blurred mess.

That blurring is really holding me back. It’s like I have a mental block between me and the text. I am trying to overcome that and get the editing down, make sure it works, but it feels like the task of Sisyphus – all up hill with the threat of a boulder above to roll over and crush you.

However, like Sisyphus, I’m not going to stop, so here I go again, pushing that rock and making this manuscript work.

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