Sex, Death and Trains: All Yours For Nothing (still!)*

*Terms and Conditions apply: you can get a free copy of my first novel, The Darkness Beneath, by following this link - but hurry! Only the first 100 people to sign up can claim a free copy.

It would be great if you could review it on Amazon when you finished. There's no obligation to be be nice just because it was free. Honesty is the best policy.

OK, I Give Up
(Oops! Just Found Out That I Can't!)

As all unpublished writers know to the very core of their souls, writing and continuing to write can be a difficult and tortuous road. It is a path laden with despair, anguish, depression; a path full of dead ends, misdirections and thoughts of suicide

It can turn you into a self-obsessed bore whilst simultaneously robbing you of every ounce of confidence you ever had.

Ok, it doesn't have the same near-death experience levels of something like mountain climbing or car racing, but it is incredibly hard just to keep placing one word behind the other at times. And this is just the work of doing it: I'm ignoring the wall of indifference erected by the near and dear and the publishing industry.

So the ability to carry on in the face of both these things is a prerequisite: even if you didn't know that when you started out, you soon find that you have unlimited quantities of 'carry-on' juice once you dare to try to get something published.

Owing to the forces of stupidity from elsewhere in my life, I've had a bit of a difficult week which culminated in one of those 'straw that broke the camel's back' incidences that can only be resolved by hiding in a cupboard with a stack of hankies and the feeling that the whole of outer space has occupied your soul. I'm talking cold, dark emptiness.

Fortunately I was able to talk to a very dear and loving friend who dragged me kicking and snivelling back to reality. It wasn't easy or pretty and I admire the fact that she was able to ignore all the bollocks I was spouting and hung in there until I was safely back on board the Enterprise. You'd have to have been there to appreciate how much this means to me, and I am very fortunate to have a friend who will stick by me despite the dark clouds and hard rain that inhabits my head at times.

During the course of the rescue mission she asked me what would I have left if I gave up (read into that phrase what you will). It sounds like a fairly simple question but the importance it has for me is immense. It reminded me that to go through life without trying to achieve something worthwhile, to not see my fiction writing published, or not to get where my dreams live, is not an option for me. Despite the depression and other negative forces that conive in the shadows of my soul, actually giving up is not an option, no matter how attractive its emptiness seems.

Perversly, this is just why the journey is so hard at times.

Adventures in Print on Demand
Do you know about Print on Demand? I've used it before to create photobooks and have even created a book of my earlier poetry. I think it's an good idea and a very easy way of getting your books printed without the aid of the publishing industry.

(The reason I've never released the poetry book into the wild is because I had a sudden lack of confidence about the quality of the writing.) 

I had an email from Blurb.com recently promoting their new idea of using it to publish your own novels. I haven't tried it yet (but hope to do so later today) but from what I've read, it looks like an excellent way of making your book available to everyone with very little cost to you. This is because once you've created the book and proofed it (that will cost you the standard Blurb printing and freight costs for each proof copy) all you have to do is publicise the link. If someone wants to buy it, and there are still billions of people who still like to read real books, all they have to do is order it from Blurb and it will be sent straight to them. 

So there's no need for you to hold stock or do anything with payments and delivery at all. How fantastic is that?

Manage the Manic
A few weeks ago I was as happy as a lamb enjoying the sunshine in Melbourne, Australia. It was warm, it was new and was/is populated by some very lovely people.

But then I came back to northern Europe and my mood dropped like an icy stone as the temperature plummeted and all the world's problems alighted on my shoulders.

Then I was off to the UK where I was able to forget again as tiredness and work overwhelmed my senses. I loved it: then I was back home again and unable to escape the horrors that surround me. My mood swooped down into subterranean depths again, my only escape being sleep.

I'm not going into the details of why this is happening, they're far too complicated and personal, but I will say that they involve every major area of life. In other words money, work and my private life.

If you're like me and seem to be trapped in an ever-spinning world of negativity, what do you do to get through it? The best I can do is to try not to think about it and keep putting one foot in front of the other - which works when you're desperate, but it isn't a long term answer it?

On a good day I can cheerfully laugh at all the bollox that comes my way, but that's just bravado. It ain't going to cure nothing. On a good day I try to work my way out of it by taking action, but without someone there with a whip, it's very hard to stick to the plan. Hopelessness creeps in to my head and paralyses me and the best I can do is hide in a book or tune out in front of the TV. And working from home and being an amateur novelist don't make it any easier either. Both contribute hugely to feelings of isolation, and if any of you have or are trying to get published, you'll know exactly how tough inhabiting the world of the unpublished author can be.

I'm not expecting any sympathy here, but I would like to know how people break through negativity and the loneliness it brings. 

My latest plan is to rise at 0600 every day and get on with writing my 2nd novel (working title: Life Cycle) but that means getting to bed by midnight. And getting to bed at the time (and going to sleep) is not something I'm good at.

I can do it, but I'm sure many people will know that going to sleep means waking up, and waking up means facing the day again: at night nothing can touch you.