Author Interview – Marcus Liotta

Hello my little demons, I interrupt your Sunday with another Author Interview…

I also want to apologise for missing posts, work has been getting progressively busier and more stressful, so on my days off I tend to find a dark corner to hide in…

But, I hope this new blog post makes up for it. Because today I have an interview with another fellow author, one who has quite a few similar interests as I do… and I don’t mean that we’re both authors… Say hello to Marcus Liotta!

About Marcus Liotta

As well as being an author, Marcus, who is originally from Chicago, IL, works in Information Technology (as he calls himself; a ‘Technocrat’), defining himself as a Programmer, Hacker and Social Engineer, as well as a public speaker (rather him than me!)

He also seems to have a long list of hobbies and skills, from Philosophy, Psychology, Archery and Survivalism. He even has some legal skills (I feel the need to explain he’s not BAR registered, just to avoid any future confusion).

Adrift

Although Marcus has managed to scramble together words into stories a few times, from novellas to short stories (I’ll leave some of his links below for you to check out), but I just wanted to quickly tell you about his most recent works, ‘Adrift’.

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi, especially if it entails space and all things thus contained in space (okay, I like spaceships! There, I said it!) and this one really has the feel of the ‘Expanse’ series (written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck – pen name James S.A. Corey – also a TV series), I mean, you read the synopsis and the interview below and you tell me…

Synopsis:

The silence of space can be overwhelming. It can drive a man to madness. When one is consumed by the Empty, a region beyond the reaches of known star maps, there is no rescue.
In the vast Empty, nothing can be trusted.
A scavenging crew discovers this first hand when they ransack an aged provisioning vessel. Far from any possible civilization, they encounter something more deadly than they could have ever imagined.
They should have known better.
Often, this place is where starships go to die.

Check it out here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08VGPM99K/

Interview

What’s your current book about?

My most recent work, “Adrift“, is a Dark Science Fiction novella about the perils of space travel. A scavenging crew finds more than they are prepared for when they board a derelict vessel, one who contains a deadly secret.

Can you tell me a little about the main character(s)?

The main characters include a muscular blonde woman who doesn’t take heat from anyone, yet also finds herself treating a flying utility drone as a puppy dog. The drone, a massive human-sized machine with sleek metal of a black obsidian sheen, it always hovers nearby and comes when called; but that glowing red eye never blinks.

What got you into writing?

I was always pushed to write when I was very young, given my active imagination. Later, I continued to write short stories and participated in Dungeons & Dragons (or other role playing games), as a Game Master – crafting stories of Monsters, Magic, and Mayhem. That was really enjoyable and kept me writing in my spare time.

Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?

No I do not. I considered it but the negatives seemed to outweigh any positives.

How do you deal with criticism?

I assume the critic is correct in some perspective and considered how to better my writing. If someone responds very poorly, they may not be interested in providing criticism but rather use the review process or a twitter / author contact response as an output for their own internalized-anger. It is important to accept and understand that many who are unhappy project internalized-anger onto others, and into much that they do. Once one realizes this, it is easy to accept another individual for who they are and what they do, while not becoming annoyed or aggravated by their words.

Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?

Yes and no. I often write in silence, but at times when specific scenes are benefitted by listening to a theme song for them, I will listen to a specific set of music for the section. Often, this is non-voice and dramatic music intended for a specific sort of action or dark (creepy) sequence.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

A Wizard of Earthsea“, by Ursula Kay Leguin. This book is an amazing adventure and depicts the struggles of Good and Evil, in vivid detail. It is a perfect book to demonstrate the need to accept the consequences for one’s actions, while learning how to cope with the grief of both failure and how to face one’s own demons.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

A story that can steal one away from the world and wrap them in a newfound reality is important. This means that integrating a Good Plot, Interesting Characters, Twists the reader never saw coming, and being Consistent in a Story is key. Consistency means both keeping character behavior the same unless some development would sensibly change them, but also not pursuing a plot which would create holes in the story arc. At the same time, consistency also means not introducing new plot mechanics which could cause a reader to lose their ability to suspend disbelief (and take them out of the reality a writer creates.)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a Hacker and Programmer, so often my hobbies revolve around code and computers.

Do you write every single day?

Yes, but not always on a specific project. I work on my blog, poetry, various short story concepts or stories for my paintings I often post.
When I am working toward publishing a project I absolutely work on it every single day, whether it is writing or editing.

Where do you get your ideas?

I take pieces of our own reality and twist them, shaping them into something that is similar but not as we would normally see..

Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?

I love detailing the conflict between Good and Evil, and how one must fight to be a better person.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

I am working on a horrific book relating to a small town and terrifying ordeal that some must endure. A newcomer brings all sorts of terrible reasons to fear an otherwise uneventful town.
I’m also working on another piece relating to Fantasy; both Magic and Dragons.

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If you would like to learn more about Marcus and his works,
or follow him on social media, here are a few links:

marcusliotta.com
twitter.com/marcusliotta

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Self-diagnosing myself with Autism

Hello my little demons,

This blog post is a little different today, and I know I said ‘self-diagnosing’, there’s a lot of issues surrounding self-diagnosing medical/psychological/neurological issues, but bare in with me…

I had Selective Mutism…

You may already know that I had Selective Mutism as a child. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m 100% sure I had it as a child (and still suffer slightly with it today – either I clam up and don’t talk, or someone says/does something that is a ‘trigger’ and sets off an anxiety attack). If you didn’t know, I recommend you read my blog post here and check out my very first video on my new YouTube channel here.

Now, the reason why I haven’t been diagnosed is simple… it was missed. Instead, I was thought to be ‘shy’ in school, which is true, I was shy. Painfully. But, I also believe it was missed because there wasn’t enough education into it back in the 90s and early 2000s when I was at school. And the reason why it hasn’t been diagnosed, or at least officially put on my medical records NOW is because of three reasons;

1. I only learnt about it recently, say in the last few years. I stumbled across it actually. I can’t remember where it was I first saw/heard about Selective Mutism, but something in the name made me think “can it be?”. Before then, I never knew it was a ‘thing’ – I thought I was different, special, ‘odd’, that I was the only one who suffered the way I did as a child. Then, one day I came across it, read up about it, and went, Oh. My. God. That’s a THING?! So, yeah!

2. I kinda grew out of it. I developed SM (Selective Mutism) when I was at Primary School (about the age of 4 or 5) and it got worse as I became a teenager through Secondary School. But when I went to college, I went to a completely different college than all my cohort at school so I was no longer around those kids that new me as The Girl Who Whispered and I managed to break the cycle – if I didn’t, I probably would be still suffering today.

3. I learnt to mask. It took me YEARS, but I learnt to mask, hide, pretend I didn’t have it and learnt to fake confidence around people. I was ashamed of having it. I was ashamed of what people would think about me if they found out how weird I was in school, that I didn’t talk, that I whispered. So, I would mask that I had it, to the point of pretending that part of my life didn’t exist. When people would reminisce over their school days and say how they wish they were in school still, I would disagree, saying I hated school, but never said why. It was also hard to explain why I have a fear of certain things – one for example, I HATE people whispering to me now, because that was one thing the bullies in school would do, but try explain that to someone that doesn’t know about your background and you don’t WANT them to know.

It’s not that I don’t want it on my record, I just haven’t yet had chance to really talk to the doctors about it. I struggle with talking to the doctors, not only because I have moved around a LOT over the last few years, but because I have had some very bad experiences in the past. Plus, with the whole Covid situation at the moment, I find it difficult to go to the doctors – I can’t just walk in and ask for an appointment and I’m absolutely TERRIBLE on the phone (I had recently had to email my new doctors surgery to ask for an appointment, but they have just emailed me back asking me to ring them – urgh! Need to find the courage to do that!)

Is this Autism…?

Which kinda brings me onto my own self-diagnosis of Autism…. because SM is a SIGN of Autism… especially in women. So, when I learnt that… I did some digging.

Firstly, I want to apologise if I say anything that may offend anyone, I am still new to Autism, I’m still trying to understand it and I may get things wrong, or may say something that isn’t politically correct. Please bare in with me, I mean no offense. I know at least that some people do not like to be defined by their autism, there is a difference between being ‘a person with autism’ and an ‘autistic person’. I’m new to this concept and am still trying to get my head around it. I will probably use these interchangable and I do not mean offense. I’m still unsure how to define myself – and if I should even be using the term undiagnosed.

Now, I knew about Autism, I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen it, but my understanding of it was HUGELY WRONG. So, yeah, I used to think there were a few things that I saw in myself, but I never really associated myself with Autism until very recently (in the last few weeks).

Another sign of Autism, I have recently found out is masking. Which I do! A LOT! And I didn’t/don’t even realise I do! Masking is the ability to mimic non-autistic traits, or social interaction to hide the fact you have Autism. I’ve heard this is more prevalent in women with Autism, as opposite to men. I used to say that because of my SM, I didn’t learn social skills, but I’m now starting to think that, yeah, the SM didn’t help matters, but actually, my social skills were actually a result of Autism. In fact, I didn’t even realise this was a thing until recently either, because I just thought “this is how we learn” to socialise. Nope, it’s just me, being different.

There are a few other signs/criteria for autism, and more specifically ones found in women, and I will break those down, focusing on the main ones for women, because I want to show you why I have decided to self-diagnose myself with autism…

I took the following list from a YouTuber (shout out to Dan @TheAspieWorld, thanks, dude!) which I will post the video down below for you to watch. He has been diagnosed with asperger’s (which is technically Autism, but that’s a whole other discussion that I personally do not 100% understand yet, so will refrain from saying anything and getting it wrong…)

Autism in Women

Lack Of Eye Contact

✔️ Yep. I used to HATE looking people in the eye. I felt it was too intrusive. I felt like I was staring. Being rude. I also felt uncomfortable when people would look at me too long too, so if I felt uncomfortable, I would think others would too. I wouldn’t know how long to look, do I glance to make them aware I know they’re there and talking to me? How long is too long until it becomes weird and awkward? But, I learnt that eye contact was a ‘typical’ thing to do – so I had to learn how to make and keep eye contact. Some days, though, if you catch me on a bad day, or I’m a little too intimidated by the person, I will struggle – One of my coping mechanisms for those days, I find something else to put my eyes on.

Also, I am an anxious person so I tend to be hyper-aware of my surroundings, and even if I’m not hyper-aware, I am easily distracted by sounds, sights, lights, smells, etc, so if I look like my eyes are darting to things like that… it might not be that I’m struggling to keep eye contact, just something shiny has caught my attention.

Difficulty Socialising

✔️ Yep. Difficulty starting conversations (I hate small talk) and keeping them going. Although, this isn’t always the case, if you start talking to me about something I am interested in, passionate about (I can talk for hours about my book, for example) then I can talk so fast, you wouldn’t be able to keep up. I also struggle to understand what is oversharing, what is undersharing, when to stop talking if I’m talking too much, when to ask for help, and what the correct ‘socially accepted’ response is. I used to get people asking me how I am… and I would answer truthfully (“I’m terrible today, I just had a bad day with…”) and apparently people aren’t actually interested in knowing how you are… apparently this is a typical ‘greeting’ for some people. So, I learnt to say (“I’m good, thanks, how are you?”).

Introverted Personality But Outgoing In General

✔️ Yep. I have said to a few people before I am introverted (I like my own company) but I LOVE going outside. Maybe not to bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. Because they can be too loud, or busy, or have too many people. But I love the outside/nature (as long as it’s not too cold, but that’s a story for another day!) I love going out somewhere new, taking my camera, exploring the sites, smells, sounds, etc. I do also prefer going out with people… usually just the odd one or two people that I get on with, as that tends to help with my confidence, but if it’s someone I don’t know well, I’m too worried about how to act around them that I don’t tend to enjoy myself too much.

Obsessive Collector

✔️ I feel personally attacked. Let me just hide my Pokemon collection… My postcard collection… And my collection of bad habits… okay, maybe not including in this category… But yeah, I have been and still am a collector… and a hoader. I also go through phases. I had a large collection of bouncy balls, keyrings, postcards (which I regret getting rid of), bugs (yep, I was that kid! Sorry, mum!), I even came back home from a holiday with a new collection of pretty shells at one point. Unfortunately, I either stupidly got rid of a load of stuff, was asked to get rid of stuff (i.e. moving house) or I lost interest in that thing (I mean, why bouncy balls? What was I going to do with them?) but I have always been one to collect things, to the point of obsession. Currently, I am obsessed with collecting Pokemon on my Pokemon Go app, recently re-started a Pokemon card collection and re-started my postcard collection too. I also, not sure if it’s really an obsessive collection as such, but I HAVE to get something as a memento from where I went – a little gift to myself from a holiday destination, postcard is a must of course, but maybe a painting, or an ornament, heck, even a stone! And LOTS of photos! I also hoard, I’m terrible for it… I don’t like throwing something out if it may be useful in some way – tin cans I can upcycle, jars to store things in, a pretty candy wrapper for no other reason but because it’s pretty – and then I throw away because it’s technically rubbish, ribbons that I think will be useful for something, somewhere, someday and left forgotten in a draw, buttons… because you never know when you’re going to need a bright purple button from a cardigan you had when you were twelve… birthday cards, old electronics because you might want to learn how it works or try to fix it… boxes… does a collection of unironed clothes also count, or is that just me being lazy and hating ironing?

Selective Mute

✔️ I have already mentioned this previously, so I don’t feel the need to expand too much on this one. It’s obvious this means Selective Mutism, right?

Masking To Meltdown

✔️ Now, what this one means, is that you mask so often, to the point of exhaustion and then something tips you and BOOM meltdown. If I had seen this without the context that Dan said in his video, I probably would have disagreed with this one. But when he mentioned about the meltdown over something simple like realising someone has eaten all the chocolate sauce and you couldn’t have ice-cream and chocolate sauce… yeah… I realised that was me too. I may be fine one day, have the ‘issue’ not bothering me (Oh, you’re going to replace it… okay, that’s fine!)… but if I’ve had a bad day, or I’m exhausted from masking in a social situation all day… I would have meltdowns over something minor. (IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!) It could be from moving something I own. Breaking something. Eating my chocolate in the fridge. It could even be just asking me to do something simple. I can have a meltdown. And it physically hurts… I mean, seriously feels like an anxiety attack. It’ll also take me a while to calm down, and it’s seriously difficult to be around me because I can either get mad and angry, or I can turn the opposite and get depressed.

Shy And Quiet

✔️ This one is a yes and no answer. But only because I struggle to know whether I was actually shy, or if it’s my SM and/or social skills OR if it’s my masking, but I used to define myself as ‘shy and quiet’ but less so now because I have had to ‘force’ myself to be confident and outgoing to ‘fit in’ and be ‘professional’. It’s difficult, it’s exhausting, and there are times when I just cannot be bothered to be social as I’m so tired from it, so I will become quiet. But I’m not sure if the shy part actually defines me. I guess you could say I used to be, I am nervous in social situations, especially if I don’t know you or there is a big group or I’m put on the spot to talk (please make ice-breakers illegal!) but I feel as if that goes hand-in-hand with the selective mutism checkpoint.


So, yeah, reading through that, it makes me realise I hit all of those points. But, I want to point out there are others, some I agree with, such as the sensory overload issues – only today I had to move my feet from the floor of my flat because downstairs was making noises that was vibrating up through the floor. Inability to listen to people (I find it easier to read conversations/information than listen… it will seriously not go in!). Inability to express or understand emotions (well, there are some I understand such as anger or disgust, but others not so much – I’m really not good with knowing if someone is flirting!)

But, other points I don’t agree with; some Autistic people apparently are good with numbers, I’m not, I am TERRIBLE with numbers, my brain just cannot understand them, I’m terrible with dates of birth, for example (but I’m good at problem solving, I loved algebra in school and found statistics fascinating!). Some Autistic people have great memories, I haven’t, mine is terrible, remembering someone’s name, remembering what I did yesterday, apparently this is a trait from mental health issues too though. Some are geniuses, and yeah, I have a few qualifications, but I do not see myself up there on the genius scale at all – I had to fight to get my MSc, I nearly failed it!

I also, have heard that women with autism can be misdiagnosed with ADHD (or vise versa) and one of the traits in ADHD is the inability to stick to one task, having to do things all at once… that’s me too. I also get distracted easily, by something shiny, or something out of place, something wonky (my damn picture on the wall keeps moving, guys!) But I feel I relate more to Autism than I do ADHD, plus, if I don’t finish a task… I get nervous and frustrated. If I start a task, I have to finish it. It’s hard to let go.

Should I self-diagnose?

But, why have I self-diagnosed myself? Why did I decide in the last few weeks to just go ahead and start saying I am Autistic without getting officially diagnosed? Well, because it helps me. It helps me understand myself, it helps me try out the label and see how I feel about it, and it helps me explain to others about myself.

One of the things I have always struggled with is getting people to understand me. I remember writing about it in a diary I used to keep once, I was so upset that people didn’t understand me. I couldn’t understand why people struggled. I tried to explain myself all the time. Online. To people’s faces. I would write hand-written letters with all the intention of sending them and chickening out. It was EMOTIONAL. I was more upset about that, than actually keeping friends. And yes, that also upset me. It still does to some extent. I really struggle to make and mostly, keep friends. My MSc was torture for that reason and I ended up struggling with my mental health for a bit too. I also tried too hard to get people to like me, which I think put people off.

I recently spoke out on my Facebook profile, my personal one for my friends and family to see, that I am going through the process of diagnosing with Autism and a realisation hit me… if I get this diagnosis, will people finally accept me? Will they finally understand me? And oof… all the feels… I was emotional again!

I also came across another YouTuber (shout out to Paige Layle) who talks about self-diagnosing and explains why it’s okay to self-diagnose. You can watch it below too, I have included the video at the end of this blog. Yeah, okay, I live in a country with free health care – but believe me guys, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! (That’s a whole other rant that I will not discuss here!) I will at least say that a lot of people have said it’s difficult to get diagnoses for these things here in the UK. It took me until 2010, when I was in my 20s to get diagnosed with depression (one counsellor even said I was just ‘having a bad day’ after one meeting!). It wasn’t until I moved to Scotland (about 25/26) that they did tests to see if I actually had thyroid issues or vitamin deficiency. Getting a diagnosis for Autism is going to be hard and I’m expecting to get misdiagnosed too!

So, although I am probably going to be referring myself as Autistic from now on, for these reasons I have mentioned, I am still going to push to get a diagnosis. To put my mind at rest – and to have it officially on my record in case I need any extra help in the future (ie. with work or education, which I feel would have benefitted me so much if I had that before!) AND, in the process, I hope my SM will also be diagnosed officially too.

Another thing I hope to get diagnosed is my Fibromyalgia. I’m 90% sure I have it now, as it’s getting worse, but that is also one other thing I have had trouble getting a diagnosis. Again, for my own peace of mind. But, this also is another story, possibly for another blog post!

Lastly, here are the videos I recommend you guys watching:

Dan @TheAspieWorld on the Female Autism Checklist:

Paige Layle’s Video on Self-Diagnosing:

I just want to point out, that although I personally have self-diagnosed myself with Autism on these above points, this isn’t a proper diagnosis, so please refrain from diagnosing yourself or someone else you may know, especially on just this one blog post. Please do your own research or, if it’s possible, seek professional advice. This blog post is only short in comparison to all the information out there, and all the research I have done, it’s only scratching the surface. This is only to inform you why I have done this in the limited space I have available on a blog post, and doesn’t give you the full picture. 🙂

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Am I a YouTuber now?

Hello my little demons!

I wasn’t going to blog today, I was going to have a break and just focus on getting my first video done for my YouTube done.

But… it turns out… I finished it! I uploaded my first YouTube video! So, I might as well blog about it!

…Heck.

Now the whole world will see me… will hear me talk… and I’m open for criticism… (I’ll post the video below).

But first, I want to explain what it is and why I did it.

Most of you should hopefully know by now that I had Selective Mutism as a child, I only recently understood what this was in the last few years, for most of my life I just thought I was odd… that I was alone with this weird secret… and I kept it to myself. But, now I know I’m not alone and I want to talk about it (ahhh!!) and hopefully spread a bit of awareness about it so others, like me, know they’re not alone!

What is Selective Mutism? Well, watch the video to find out! 🙂

I also want to apologise, I filmed this back in December… before Christmas!… and it’s taken me ages to edit and finally upload.

I tried a few different video editing software (open source, because I’m tight!), from OpenShot (it was really glitchy!) to Blender (which kept freezing) and finally found Shotcut which was sooo much better!

But of course, life also got in the way… what with working full time, writing (I will get Rose Garden Sanatorium finished if it’s the last thing I do!) and planning a Route 66 Tour (as well as other things… occasionally doing the washing up for example).

I hope you like it.

And apologies for the bad lighting, camera quality (it was a DSLR with no auto-focus), and the little jumps as I tried to edit out my ‘umm’s. Haha!

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I can also start giving you this link too (hint, it’s a YouTube Channel link… I wonder who’s?):
Go on, click the link, you know you want to!

The Highlands of Scotland Road Trip

Hello my little demons,

As most of you know, I moved to the Highlands of Scotland at the beginning of 2020 and was super excited to explore and share my travels with you guys. But then Covid-19 hit and I was pretty much confined to a single room with a very lovely family for about eight months and wasn’t able to get very far (I wrote two blog posts about this, I’ll leave the links at the end). The whole country; United Kingdom, went into lockdown in March 2020 and it eased for a few months before the majority of the country (at least England) going into lockdown again (and now we’re in another nationwide lockdown – including Scotland!). During those few months lockdown lifted, a friend of mine booked some time off work and decided to drive all the way up to Scotland to see me, and of course, see the Highlands of Scotland!

I firstly want to say, keep safe and don’t do any unnecessary trips, especially if you are in lockdown! If we all do our part, we can get out of this pandemic quicker.

On that note, I also want to say that this trip was done pre-lockdown. We also made a lot of precautions, including having hand sanitizer in the car, which we used very frequently, wore masks when going inside public buildings and kept 2 meters apart from other people. Luckily, the Highlands wasn’t very busy and the majority of it is wild and people-free. My friend also booked a hotel in Inverness for the whole week, we didn’t book any other hotels in the Highlands so as to avoid spreading the virus, so we explored the Highlands one day at time.

Now, I hope you enjoy the rest of this blog!

Day One – Packing and checking into the Hotel

The first day wasn’t that eventful, as my friend was driving over 500 miles from South West England to the Highlands. But, as I had finally found my own place, moving out of the single bedroom in a lovely family’s house into my own very first flat in the Highlands, I was packing my things – not that I had much to pack – and cleaning the room before he arrived.

As I mentioned in the little ‘disclaimer’ in the beginning of the blog post, my friend booked a hotel in Inverness city centre for the week, and had booked a twin room just in case I decided to stay so we could wake up early and set off straight away on adventures. I decided it would be best to just stay there, so I could clean the room before the adventure starts. Not having to go back to the house, clean, move my stuff into my flat half way through the adventure – no time was wasted!

When my mate did arrive, we bundled everything into the car, and because I am a massive motor-head, I have to mention he has a Mark 2 Ford Focus ST, which has been, err… ‘slightly’ modified. I won’t post any photos of it, as it is a little too easily distinguished. Once packed, we just went straight to the hotel, ordered a pizza, bought some beers/cider and chilled in front of the TV.

Day Two – The long way to the Isle of Skye

On day two, this is when the fun starts. We got up with the sole intention of driving to Bealach na Bà or also known as Applecross Path. The actual town of Applecross, at the end of the path, wasn’t the main attraction here, but the road to it, and it’s absolutely stunning!

But, of course, Applecross is a lovely little fishing village too, which deserves a mention. But as they say, it’s the journey, not the destination.

After a quick stop, having cold pizza left over from last night, a quick loo break, we then headed south to a little village called Plockton. I only really wanted to go because I thought the name was funny (and yes, I kept calling it Plonkton because I’m a child), and I quickly found it on a website of places to visit in the area… but I had no idea it was this pretty!

After a small walk about, and a stop in the local gift shop to get my obligatory postcards (it’s one of the things I collect), we got back into the car and decided Eilean Donan Castle wasn’t that far away and deserves at least a quick stop.

Now, this castle I have heard about and drove past at least twice before, once on the way to the Isle of Skye back in the summer of 2018 and back again only a month later – I had worked on the Isle of Skye for a few weeks, not being able to hack the job so ended up returning to my parents – I remember driving past the Castle and wishing I could stop to see it. The below photo shows you why.

Unfortunatley, it was a little busier than I had expected. We did visit in a Scottish school holiday, so there were a few people about, and it’s a popular tourist destination – well, it is on the way to the Isle of Skye!

Which brings me onto the end of the day, a quick trip over to the Isle of Skye!

Of course, there isn’t much in terms of photos, as we didn’t spend long there. We did, however, drive most of the Island, but the majority of it we were searching for a toilet! Word of warning, if you’re planning on touring about – make sure you empty your bladder as soon as you can! You don’t know when the next toilet will be!

By the time we did a loop and got back to Portree, the light started to fade not long after, so we stopped for a few minutes, enjoying the view of the harbor before heading back to the mainland.

Of course, we stopped by Eilean Donan Castle to see it lit up at night. We did, apparently, drive past Loch Ness on the way back, I did see it a little, but it was too dark to get any decent photos of it – plus, that was planned for another day!

Day Three – Oil Rigs, Lighthouses, Castles and Beaches

Day three and this one started off a little different. My mate told me about this area which holds a graveyard of oil rigs in Invergordon. Okay, so it’s not technically a graveyard, as they’re there to either be repaired or taken apart. But, in a weird way, I was impressed. Not your usual tourist stop.

This was our main point of call when we set off that morning. But as we knew it wouldn’t take all day to look at some oil rigs, we also had a bit of a wander about. We headed north after finding there was a lighthouse not that far away called Tarbat Ness Lighthouse.

We also had to stop off at this strange church and graveyard that we drove past to get to it – and had to drive past on the way back (on Google Maps it’s labeled as Tarbat Discovery Centre).

We then headed up the coast a bit more, to a castle that I had come across while researching places to visit; Dunrobin Castle. And I am glad we decided to stop, because it is absolutely beautiful! I actually had a couple of my photos printed and waiting to be framed!

Lastly, for the day, we also stopped at a beach a little further up as the sun was slowly setting, called Brora. Here we walked along the sand just soaking in the coastline for a bit, before getting a little cold – and worrying about getting stuck in the dark – and decided to head back to Inverness for an early night – we had a long day ahead the next day!

Day four – driving (part) of the NC500

Day four was the big one, the one we both were looking forward to doing: the NC500, or North Coast 500, if you didn’t know what that is, it Scotland’s “Route 66”. As the official website (northcoast500.com) says:

“Embark on one of the world’s most iconic coastal touring routes,
and discover the breath-taking beauty of the North Highlands;
a place where you’ll find white sand beaches, rugged mountains,
hidden gems and a wealth of unforgettable experiences.”

The route pretty much does the whole rim of the Highlands (see image below), although we didn’t do ALL of it – but we did most, in just one day. Most people go anti-clockwise, going north up to Wick first then round to the West coast, but as we were trying to do it all in one day (I don’t recommend this, but it goes to show that it is doable if you want to see if and are strapped for time) we went straight across to Ullapool to do the West coast in the daylight getting to John O’ Groats as the sun was just setting.

But, of course, we saw a lot of other stretches on other days, such as Applewood which you can see on South West of the map and Dunrobin Castle is close to Glospie on the A9 north of Inverness.

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Coast_500

We began our day being woken up pretty early (I think it was about 4 in the morning), because the fire alarm had gone off. We intended to get up early, hoping to hit our first stop just as the sun was rising but 4 in the morning was a little too early.

So, we had to rush outside in our PJs, the dark, damp, cold to wait for the fire engines to come and be allowed back into the building. I can’t remember what the issue was, but it was a false alarm, but luckily I managed to get back to sleep for a few more hours, finally waking up at 6ish.

We already had bought a few things from the shops the previous day, so we didn’t even stop for breakfast. We set off nearly right away (give me time to wake up and put makeup on!) and our first stop was Corrieshalloch Gorge.

Looking at the pictures of this bridge, and it looks harmless, but you get on it and wow, does it make your legs go to jelly! The bridge didn’t just wobble up and down like a typical suspension bridge would, but it also wobbled side to side! My mate even refused to get on it!

We only spent about 15-20 minutes there (feeling as if buying a parking ticket was pointless), but it is possible to walk around it a little, which I wish I did, but we were on a tight schedule to get to the top before sunset!

So, onwards to Ullapool.

I’m sure Ullapool has a lot more going for it than what we saw, but we only really stopped at Tesco’s to stock up on food/snacks, sit along the harbor front to have brunch (it wasn’t quite breakfast, but wasn’t quite lunch) and then set off again on our day trip.

We did stop quickly at Scourie Jetty, which we were extremely impressed to see the water was so clear! But, had to move on as yours truly needed to find a toilet again!

Our next stop was a little bit more north to Balnakeil Beach (Close to Durness on the map above). The one thing that I was hoping to see… and this might sound odd, but sod it… I honestly thought I might see some cows on the beach! I remember looking it up thinking it looks absolutely beautiful and then saw photos of these lovely black cows walking on the sand. Needless to say, I didn’t see cows on the beach, but I am glad I got to see such a beautiful beach… even if it was a little cold!

Before I tell you the next stop, I just want to throw in some photos of the view we had along the way, both between Ullapool and Balnakeil Beach but also after it.

Next was Smoo Cave (yes, you read that right!) and this was one I was really looking forward to! (Also close to Durness). Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who had the great idea to see it, as there were a few other people about – probably not as many as if it was peak season and no pandemic, but there was at least one that was a little loud, but I just ignored that one little annoyance and was impressed nonetheless. Although, I had hoped the cave went a little deeper, but that’s just me and my (weird) interest in caves!

The cave entrance is 50ft high, and is apparently the largest sea cave entrance in Britain (source link). One story I read is that it was believed to be the residence of the Devil, which I found pretty fascinating, but couldn’t find much about it online. If you’d like to read more about Smoo Cave, here are a few interesting and insightful links I did find: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/durness/smoocave/index.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoo_Cave

The next stop was an unplanned stop, but as we were approaching it we saw how beautiful it was and had to stop – plus, the sun came out for us for a little bit which made it even more beautiful – and actually warmed up a little.

This is Ceannabeinne Beach…

And yes, if it wasn’t cold and it was open, I would totally have done that zip wire!

Our next stop was Melvich Beach, this one was at the request of my mate, and again, you can see why the west coast of Scotland is renown for it’s beaches! Unfortunately, as soon as we got there, it started to cloud over and most of my pictures are dark, and doesn’t do it any justice compared to the previous ones.

After Melvich Beach, the next stop was the most northern part of mainland Britain – No, not John O’ Groats! Dunnet Head! John O’ Groats isn’t the most northern part of Britain, it’s actually the end of the longest distance between two inhabited British points (Land’s End, Cornwall being the most southernly).

Dunnet Head is in fact the most northerly point of Scotland and Britain. Actually, if you want to be exact, Dunnet Head is the area, the tip is ‘known’ as Easter Head (or at least Wikipedia says it is, so it might be true?)

And NOW…. we have John O’ Groats…

As you can see, the sun was starting to fade and it was actually really pretty!

Now, we just had to drive back to Inverness to complete our very long day of driving almost the NC500.

Of course, we had to stop for some fish and chips in Brora (I recommend The Bear Den if you’re ever going that way!) and we had to stop to see the oil rigs lit up at night.

Day five – The last day around Loch Ness

The last day of my little Highland adventure, and we saved the monster hunting for last; Loch Ness Monster!

This might not seem as spectacular as the trip all the way around (almost) the NC500, but there are still some lovely surprises that I wasn’t expecting and just like the NC500, I would love to go back again!

Our first stop was around about Lochend, this was our first real view of Loch Ness.

We then stopped (well, I demanded we stop!) at a shop near Drumnadrochit, close to where Urquhart Castle was located as there was a shop on the side that I had to go in to get my obligitory postcards, and I… might have… got a few. We couldn’t see the castle unfortunately, as due to the virus (I think), they were operating on an appointment only basis. We couldn’t even get a sneak peak of it from somewhere, but our next stop kinda made up for it.

Above is Invermoriston Falls, and we caught it at probably the most beautiful time of the year, one of my favourites; Autumn. Okay, so I love Summer more because it’s warmer and I hate being cold, but Autumn is close second as it’s so pretty!

Next stop was Fort Augustus, we had a wander up the lochs and down to the view point (we did look out for Nessy, but couldn’t see her!)

We then drove back up Loch Ness on the other side, and I’m so glad we did! Although, for about half of it we weren’t driving next to the loch, hell, we couldn’t even see the loch from where we were, but it was absolutely stunning!

We then stopped at the Falls of Foyers. Hoods up… it’s a little wet!

We did manage to get back towards the loch and got some lovely shots before heading back to my flat for a well deserved take-away!

A big shoutout to my mate for driving all the way up to Inverness and putting up with my craziness! (Yes, that is a shell, she’s call Michelle).

Thanks for reading this rather longer post today! I’m hoping to go do the full NC500 in the summer this year (2021), fingers crossed the pandemic eases by then, and I will getting my motorbike licence (CBT first, then going straight to Direct Access for my big-boy licence). And then next year, I am planning to do the American version – the Route 66! (see below for a blog post on that!)

Here are the other Highland blog posts:

Moving to the Highlands
Six Months in the Highlands – Thanks, Covid-19!

Here are a few other travel posts:

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas
Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem
A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion
Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)
Travelling Route 66 for Charity – Update

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I don’t like labels – LGBTQ+, my sexuality/gender and J Rowling.

Hello my little demons,

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the LGBTQ+ community and my own sexuality/gender , I have always had a “it’s your life, your business” kind of attitude towards everyone.

If you want kids. If you don’t want kids. If you don’t want to get married. If you’re happy being single. You like to watch cartoons. If you’re a model. If you’re a stripper. Have a weird fettish. If you’re a stay at home mum. If you like to collect Pokemon cards (ahem). Want to live on a boat. Want to move country. If you are gay. If you were born in the wrong body/gender. If you prefer the pronouns ‘they/them’.

I have no say over how someone wants to live their lives. I have no say over someone’s gender or sexual orientation. I have no say over the individual’s struggles. I personally do not understand why there is such a big deal over it (and that wasn’t an open invitation to tell me, so please, keep your negative comments to yourselves!). As far as I am concerned, if you are happy – then I am happy. As long as you’re not being violent, racist, sexist or otherwise shaming someone else, for what EVER reason. And, yes, I also am aware of the biological side of things, but this isn’t a post about explaining how it IS possible! I just want everyone to live their most authentic/true/happy life!

Okay, I will admit, there was a time when I was a teen that I hated gay people. Mostly gay men. Why? I have no idea. It was a social norm, I guess. Everyone else around me either hated, disliked or would avoid gay men, so I learnt to do the same, I looked up to the adults in my life and learnt it from them. It was expected of me to be a woman, get married, get a house, have kids (I want to point out my mum was never like that, this is more of a ‘community’ or social norm – my mum has always been interested in me just being happy and healthy). Until, one day, I found out a very good friend of mine at college was gay. I was immediately ashamed. Not because he was gay. But I was ashamed that I had EVER hated gay men. This guy was the NICEST person you would ever meet, he was funny, smart, and was an absolutely joy to be around.

It got me thinking about gay men and lesbians, and I realise now that I had never had an issue with lesbians (I have heard they don’t like being called gay, as the word ‘lesbian’ was shunned in media/films and they’d be referred to as ‘gay’ instead – so, if I ever say ‘gay’ and refer to a lesbian, I apologise!) and I realise how bad that was. I hated gay men, but never thought negatively towards lesbians. Why? Media. Gay men were always seen as ‘wrong’ yet lesbians were okay because they were seen as a sexual item, for men’s entertainment. And, don’t get me started on my thoughts on how women are perceived as objects! That’s a rant for another day!

My own sexuality/gender

Fast forward a few years and I started to question my own sexuality. Not because I knew something was wrong, not in the conventional “having to hide in the closet” sort of deal that most people have had to go through. But I started to realise that I wasn’t just attracted to men, I was also attracted to women. And started to think I was bisexual. I have never really felt the need to officially come out though (hi, mum and dad!)

Now, over the years I have had this in mind and started to educate myself in the LGBTQ+ community, watching as the letters in the acronym grew (I will refer to it as LGBT+ or LGBTQ+ periodically in my blogs, posts and other ramblings, but please be aware that I mean no disrespect if I miss a letter!) and attempting to learn along the way. Not only learn about the community, but also question my own sexuality and gender.

I then started to educate myself in what ‘demisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ was. If you don’t know, demisexuality is a branch of asexuality where a person only feels sexually attracted to a person when they have a deep connection with them on an emotional/intelligent level. Pansexuality is basically similar to bisexuality but openly agrees that there are more than two genders (hi, to my gender-fluid and non-binary friends!) And, when I heard someone refer to themselves as demi-pansexual, and learnt what it meant… I immediately went… THAT’S ME! (I never understood why people can have one-night stands).

Recently, however, I had to further educate myself in what it means to be pansexual. I have in the past told people that I am pansexual (or part of my sexuality) because I openly didn’t mind if I became involved with someone in the trans community. BUT, I recently found out that THAT isn’t what it means to be pan, in fact, that is extremely offensive to a trans person because that is implying that they are NOT that gender. For example, if I were to meet a trans man and say to him I would date him because I am pansexual, I am implying they are NOT a man. Because, whether they have transitioned or not THEY ARE A MAN. For me, my pansexuality means that I recognise there are more than two genders; that I also include gender-fluid and non-binary people.

On top of that, I also started to think about my own gender. Mostly after coming across a few videos about non-binary and gender-fluid. I have always been referred to as ‘she/her’. A woman. Or a girl (although I hate that as it implies I am a child) – I also recently started to refer to myself as ‘Ms’ instead of ‘Miss’. But, most people will know that I have never been girly. I hate having my hair done. I hate wearing dresses. I’ve never been into the same things that girls my age (when I was a child) was into. Everyone called me ‘a tomboy’. That’s still true. I am. But, it’s led me to realise that what does that mean about my gender? Am I female? Who just likes cars, bikes and drinks whisky? Or am I actually a man? Or am I non-binary? Or gender-fluid? I told someone at university once that I was more ‘gender-fluid’ than a woman, and it fits more, so I consider myself that more than anything. I cannot detach myself from womanhood completely, but I also cannot personally identify as a woman as it doesn’t quite ‘feel right’.

HOWEVER, I also recently had a think about all these labels; demi-pansexual, bisexuality, gender-fluid and I’ve come to the realisation that labels are for other people, not for me. I only really worry about these labels because it’s a way of explaining to others who I am. When the conversation of sexuality comes up and people wrongly assume “when you get a boyfriend” I feel the need to explain. When someone wrongly assumes that I must like girly things because I was born female, I feel the need to explain. These labels aren’t for me, they’re for others, because others cannot understand who I am outside of what the stereotypical majority are. And, because the majority of the world doesn’t actually understand what demisexuality or pansexuality is, I am also having to explain what they are, and I don’t really have a connection to the words, only the meaning behind them.

So, for clarification; I am Penny. I go by the pronouns ‘she/her/they/them’, and unless I openly say I am attracted to you, my sexuality isn’t any of your business.

I don’t like labels.

Being an Ally & adding in the LGBTQ+ community into my writing

Supporting the LGBT+ (and yes, that also includes transmen/transwomen too!), doesn’t mean you have to be LGBT+ yourself. You can be an LGBT+ ally! I’m looking at you straight cis men/women!

And, they also need you! Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation! We need to add to the discourse to educate ourselves and end the stigma. Although, I consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I try to stand up for people, I actively engage in educating myself and I am open to understanding different view-points. I am not going to say that I am 100% right, there is still a lot I need to learn, and there is a lot that I will probably get wrong. Just like my previous view on gay men and what it means to be pansexual, and there are a lot of people out there that have a viewpoint and openly express that opinion. I just want to say to those people; it’s okay having an opinion, but it’s not okay spouting off hate and misinformed ideas at people trying to shove this opinion on them when it can be damaging. Not only is it damaging to those you are talking about (trans, gay, lesbian, etc), but it can enforce ideas in the general public and you are indirectly causing damage. Let’s learn to have healthy conversations, ask questions, don’t enforce your ideas, look up research (real peer-reviewed research, not news reports!) and question your ideologies. Just because the majority of the people, the ‘social norm’, thinks it’s one thing, doesn’t mean it’s true. Heck, the whole world thought everything revolved around the Earth and when Galileo suggested everything revolved around the sun, he was sentenced to life imprisonment! I will just leave that thought with you.

Alongside my self-discovery of both my own gender/sexuality and educating myself on LGBTQ+ topics, I also try to add these elements into my writing. I mean, yes, I try to add topics that revolve around certain issues – such as my book ‘I Fell In Love with a Psychopath’ which talks about psychopathy and trying to bring about the idea that psychopathy as not overtly bad (because not all psychopaths are mass-murders, they can be model citizens and a part of the community!), as well as the idea of adding in topics about being gay, lesbian, trans, gender-fluid, mental health issues, and many more.

I recently decided to write a story about a girl with Selective Mustism, it’s a true story, in a way, although the characters are made up, the experiences in it are very true and what I have both experienced and still experience, it’s going to be called ‘The Girl Who Whispered’.

I also will be adding in MANY topics into my book Rose Garden Sanatorium, which, I cannot say too much as I do not want to give anything away just yet – and also because I haven’t finished writing it, so things might change (again!).

But I don’t want to just add in a character just to make them ‘fit’ in the story to keep everyone happy. I don’t want a story that is supposed to be about demons, supernatural, the underworld, and randomly add in a new character that is a lesbian and she have no real point to the story. I will add in a few, because of course, the real world obviously have them, but not MAKE them fit just because. The story will have gender-fluid, gay, and demi-sexual characters because it fits with the story – with the plot… I feel like I am both contradicting myself and not making sense… Read the book/s (when it’s finally done) and it’ll make sense.

The J Rowling Fiasco

I feel the need to add a small section about this, as this is probably where my recent interest in educating myself in the trans community was really sparked. J Rowling. And, you’ll notice that I say “J Rowling” here and not “J. K. Rowling” because the “K” was added onto her books to make it “look better” – she doesn’t actually have a middle name!

Recently, say in the last year or so, J Rowling has done and said a lot of things that publicly shuns the trans community. I won’t go into detail, as again, it is very long and not the point of this post. If you want to know more, I encourage you to research it and form your own opinion. This section is merely to tell you why I no longer can support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise – and believe me… it’s been a VERY difficult decision for me!

You might have come across that I would mention that a lot of my writing work has stemmed from Harry Potter. I have always been interested in reading and writing my own stories, from the age of about eight. But my interest in books came back when I was in my teens and I came across Harry Potter. I had a troubled childhood, as I had Selective Mutism (read more about this here) and Harry Potter was one of my ‘escapisms’ (along with Dragon Ball Z). So, after my mum gave me that first book, I was hooked. I would wait eagerly for the next book to come out. I would wait eagerly for them to come out on film (although, I wasn’t as interested in the films as I was the books). I would write fan-fiction. I would day-dream about being in the world of Harry Potter and away from my horrific life. I went to the Harry Potter studios in London. Dreamed of going to the studios in Orlando, Florida. Collected different editions of the books. Even collected different languages. Got loads of clothes, trinkets, notepads. I even got a damn tattoo of the Hogwarts castle on my left arm!

But when I heard that J Rowling has been publicly supporting transphobes and making her own comments on the community… I was torn. At first I believed that she was just misinformed, that she isn’t educating herself and being as someone with such a public following and power in the community, should. She made some comments that made sense about looking after children’s welfare, but as many in the trans community have explained, are just not accurate. I was torn because I felt like J Rowling was just speaking out wrongly, she wasn’t actively being transphobic, just voicing her (inaccurate and very wrong) opinion, and although she was going about it the wrong way, there wasn’t really much wrong with having an opinion and starting a discourse (although, her ‘research’ was very inaccurate and not actually sourcing credible, reliable and peer-reviewed sources!)

UNTIL I heard that she was writing a story about a ‘man in a dress’ that goes around killing people. And THAT was when I put my foot down and said ‘NOPE!’ to J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I looked this up and true enough, her newest book is based around a ‘man in a dress’, who kills people: here’s the wiki page for it (bare in mind, this book was done under her alias Robert Galbraith). And yes, there is a small bit on the wiki page that says “the transphobia accusations were baseless and slanderous, noting that Dennis Creed is investigated along with a dozen other suspects” and “people who have not read the book were making wrong assumptions based on a single review.” A small bit of research also found her other book ‘The Silkworm’ (under the same alias) also has a transgender character ‘Pippa Midgley’ who tries to attack a character with a knife (here’s the wiki page). And okay, I will have to admit, I haven’t read either of these books, so I cannot comment on the context or the full story on these characters, nor will I be interested in buying these books and letting any more of my money go to support a transphobe, so there may be something I am missing here. I also will note that Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but without actually plagiarizing the books, it was my way of showing you some truth about these books at least. But, add this with everything else she has done to build a picture.

Yes, there have been more incidents too, which a few men and women in the trans community (and allies) have explained. But, forgive me for not going into detail about everything! This post isn’t to discuss everything surrounding J Rowling’s transphobia, it’s about why I currently cannot support the woman and the Harry Potter franchise. Like I said, I encourage you to go out there, do your own research on both sides, speak to people, and form your own opinion, but be willing to be open.

Either way, I was hurt. Upset. And extremely disgusted that not only the woman I looked up to, a writer myself wanting to be LIKE HER, but my whole childhood now feels like it has been a lie. My writing has been influenced by her; the realism in my books is taken from Harry Potter. Even the book sizes are deliberately EXACTLY the same size as hers.

Now, the reason why I am writing this, is because I feel the need to OPENLY disagree with her PUBLICALLY. I need to OPENLY support the trans community PUBLICALLY. And I hope this encourages others to do the same! Now you know where I stand. Let’s stand up together for trans rights and LGBTQ+!

Like I said before, this is my own opinion, and just my way to explain why I cannot support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I haven’t gone into detail about other research I have done – including watching videos of trans YouTubers (I recommend checking Samantha Lux and Jammi Dodger) – and I still have a lot of research to do too. My opinion may change slightly – but either way, I support the trans community!

NB: I have purposefully removed the ability to comment on this blog post to avoid any negative, hateful, hurtful and violent comments.

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I’ve included a few links for help with LGBT+ and mental health and people you should check out:

Mindline Trans+ (part of Mind, the mental health charity) is an emotional and mental health support helpline in the UK for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid…
mindlinetrans.org.uk

Scottish Trans is an Equality Network project to improve gender identify and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland:
www.scottishtrans.org

Samantha Lux’s YouTube Channel – an (absolutely beautiful) transwoman who talks about her struggles with her transition, being trans and other transgender issues:
www.youtube.com/user/samproductions516

Jammi Dodger’s (Jamie Raines) YouTube Channel – a (yes, he’s pretty handsome too!) transman who talks about his struggles with his transition, being trans and transgender issues: www.youtube.com/user/MrPinocchio17

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Author Interview – Raymond G. Newsome

Hello, my little demons,

Here’s the sixth installment of author interviews. Today I am sharing an interview I had with a friend of mine. I can’t even remember where I met him (might have been on WattPad?), but we jelled pretty quickly, not only because we both write, but because we both like the same sorts of things – the weird and wonderful.

Say hello to my little friend… I mean… say hello to Raymond Newsome!

About Raymond

Raymond lives in Eastern Kentucky with his girlfriend and five children (reading and creativity are always encouraged!) When he’s not writing and spending time with his family, he works as a nursing aid for a local nursing home.

Raymond has a few books out, ‘I am Brian’, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, and a children’s book called ‘The Adventures of Pipsqueak and Bob’. Read below for a sneak peak into my favourite; ‘I am Brian’.

I am Brian

I remember reading the first few chapters of ‘I am Brian’ before Raymond finished and published it and it had me hooked. It’s written in the view of the murderer; Brian Leroy Lewis, and you think; okay, so not a typical ‘who done it‘ because you already know who done it. But the guy sends you on a ride anyway!

Synopsis:

After arriving at a grisly murder scene, Detective Jackson finds the killer waiting on the porch.

During the police interview, the murderer introduces himself as none other than Brian Leroy Lewis – a younger man full of mental issues and a sinister history.

He promised a written confession on the terms he can leave a taped record of his life and the people he’s murdered. If Detective Jackson refuses, a new victim will die.

But what exactly are the motives of Brian Leroy Lewis?

Above is a link to the book sold on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real physical, and hopefully signed, paperback copy!

Interview

Now, let’s try and decode what’s inside Raymond’s mind…

What inspired you to start writing?

I started reading at an early age and loved it before school forces you to dissect every word. In elementary school in Ohio, they took us to different schools to listen to children’s authors who would visit. That was the beginning.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I used to limit the first draft to a few months, however, the last year has done a number on my writing time and forced me to accept to just focus on the end without a timeline in mind.

Which one of your works is your favourite?

‘I am Brian’ currently holds that position, but one of my current projects may lay claim soon.

What’s your current book about?

I don’t have a current, finished book, but I do have one that I am over halfway finished with the first draft. It’s about a handful of citizens in the fictional city of Pangaea. They experienced the corruption of the city first-hand and began to do something about it. While attempting to help their separate city districts, they discovered each other and the common goal of the man responsible for everything.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Flow. If a story doesn’t have a steady flow, you can lose a reader fast. I’ve put down multiple books for this reason. Characters. My characters are everything to me. They are the drive behind every action and reaction. Finally, keeping the grammar proficient enough not to discourage the readers. Just like flow, too many typos can lead to someone not wanting to finish the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read and watch whatever movie or show has caught my attention. I love to go on trips with my family. Last summer, I ventured into kayaking, which is amazing.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

A lot of the subjects I touch on in my books (the occult, supernatural, serial killers) I have studied and researched for years before ever deciding to incorporate them into my writing. However, there are those little details that add the zing to a scene that can require multiple Google searches to your writing time.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

I have four active projects, including the one I mentioned earlier. I have close to fifty others in the early stages of my process.

What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?

Write about something you want to read. If you love the book, your passion is there on the pages. Your readers will feel that. Practice your craft. I started with short stories and poetry which eventually evolved to books. Maybe those are what you love, so pour your soul into them. The goal is to write and keep writing. No matter what the first draft looks like, it can be fixed in editing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We all have a story to tell. One day you’ll be ready to tell it, and it will change the lives of others. That is the power of your words. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about Raymond and his books or follow him on social media.
Here are a few links:

raymondgnewsome.com
facebook.com/rgnewsomeauthor
instagram.com/raymond.newsome
twitter.com/rgnewsomeauthor

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thegirlwhowhispered.com

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A Slight Change in Plans! – My Route 66 Charity Tour

Hello my little demons!

So, there has been a ‘slight’ hick-up, which has resulted in changing my plans with my Route 66 Charity Tour.

BUT DONT FEAR! I’m still going!

I won’t go into detail, but long story short – I’ll be going on my own now. The friend I was supposed to go with has decided he no longer wants to be my friend. Don’t ask me why, I cannot answer that. As I cannot for the life of me work out what I said or did, I am just going to assume that it’s got nothing to do with me. I also do not want to divulge into it publicly as it’s not fair to do so. I will wish him luck in the future though.

It never really crossed my mind to cancel any of my plans. We had discussed a trip around the Highlands (the NC500 – Scotland’s Route 66), taking camping gear with us, and I’m still planning on doing that in the Spring/Summer once I’ve got my motorbike. And, of course, he was going to come with me down Route 66. If you’ve been following this story from the beginning, you will know that I tried to do something like this before; I was going to tour America and Canada for Charity, I had actually paid for a working holiday visa to Canada already, but my plans fell through. I’m determined not to let my plans fall through again! You can read about it here.

Plus, I really want to raise funds and awareness for Selective Mutism!

In light of what happened recently, it has made me realise that the only person I really trust is myself. People can easily let you down. So, I’ve made the decision to do this ALONE. It kinda feels poetic, actually, like one of those soppy life-changing movies that hit you in the feels. But with cars, motorbikes, food and the open road!

Hell, it’s going to be scary, but I’m hoping that I’ll build up my confidence, work on my skills filming and editing, and plan the socks off it, all in the next year or so until I go. It also has some new challenges that I never thought of before.

The three main challenges are; 1) filming myself – I have limited filming experience, other than just starting filming myself for my YouTube channel I am going to create, which involves me sat… still… at my desk, I have no idea how this will work. I’m going to research into hand-held cameras, go-pros or similar and figure out what the best options are. I know for sure that my beloved Nikon DSLR isn’t a good option – it only records 20 minutes at a time for a start! And I cannot see the screen to record myself – sitting at a desk is fine because I can set it up and sit still…. or try to at least.

2) the other biggest challenge is doing all the driving! With a second person, the driving can be split between us, but now I will be driving it all. Theoretically, I don’t see it being an issue, as I love driving and I will be taking my time seeing sights anyway along the way, so will be doing plenty of stops. I also am pretty handy, knowing a fair bit about mechanics in case something breaks, and will be considering this in the planning stage in case I need to look into breakdown cover options, researching recovery companies in the areas I drive through, and even taking a set of tools with me. But practically, I could get tired and make mistakes, getting lost or stuck. I also have to be weary when I’m taking to a camera and driving!

3) the last, and probably one of the more important ones, is personal safety. I’m sure the majority of the trip will be safe enough. I will be researching how safe areas are, making sure I only stop in safe areas and stay at hotels that have good ratings and so on. I do have some self-defense training from one of my old job roles, but I am also considering taking self-defense classes too. This is going to be one of the biggest things I will be researching and planning, especially being a female solo traveller!

On the up side though, doing it alone has it’s benefits – I can do what I want without compromise. I’m also introverted; socialising can drain me and I need to recharge, doing a whole month-long trip with someone else can get very tiring, and I know I like my own company. I can also be in control of the music. Also, being a solo-traveller, you’re more likely to get upgrades! 😉

So, although it was a huge shock and was a little upset when I lost a friend, I’m not going to let these things stop me from what I want to do in life!

Watch this space for more updates soon!
Also, watch this space for my first YouTube video – it’s currently being edited and will be uploaded soon!

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Calling Authors: Do you want to be featured on my website?

Hello my little demons,

Last year (it feels weird saying that) I decided to interview a few fellow authors with the intention of helping them get their work the recognition they deserve. It’s been pretty successful too, I’ve had a few people approach me and I’ve had some nice comments. I’ve also made some good contacts, found some really interesting books and even learnt a few new things along the way.

Keeping up with my daily life as well as writing and blogging has been pretty difficult lately, and I’ve struggled to keep to a schedule – and let’s face it, book marketing isn’t the easiest either – I’ve decided to create this blog post so that I can reach more people easily and help their hard work get recognised.

So, if you are a writer/author, would like your short story/novel/true story/memoir featured on my website, please feel free to get in touch! I have listed a few questions below and a contact form. Feel free to email me between 5-15 questions and I will see if I can get your featured on my website!

Questions:

  1. What got you into writing?
  2. Where do you get your ideas?
  3. What inspired you to start writing?
  4. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
  5. Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?
  6. How long does it take you to write a book?
  7. Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?
  8. How do you deal with criticism?
  9. Do you Google yourself?
  10. What was your hardest scene to write?
  11. Which one of your works is your favourite?
  12. Are you working on anything at the moment?
  13. Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?
  14. What’s your current book about?
  15. Is your book based on a real person?
  16. What is your most unusual writing quirk?
  17. Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?
  18. What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
  19. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
  20. How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
  21. Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?
  22. What is your favourite word, and why?
  23. Was writing your dream job as child, or was it something else?
  24. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
  25. Can you tell me a little about your book?
  26. Can you tell me a little about the main character(s)?
  27. Do you think the LGBT+ community in literature is unrepresented?
  28. Do you have a LGBT+ book you’d recommend everyone read?
  29. What is your upcoming book about?
  30. Do you write every single day?
  31. What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
  32. How do you use social media as an author?
  33. What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
  34. How much research did you need to do for your books?
  35. What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?
  36. Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
  37. If a film were made of your book, who would you like to be cast in the leading roles?
  38. What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?
  39. Do you have any good blogs you’d recommend for writing?
  40. Anything else you’d like to add?

Please submit your answers (between 5-15) via the contact form below.
Alternatively, you can contact me on thegirlwhowhisperedauthor@gmail.com.
If you have any images of book covers, marketing images or even wish to have a photo of yourself, please feel free to email these over to the email above.

NB: Please note, if you submit more than 15 questions, I may not publish them all and will pick 15 at random.

Here are a few interviews I have done already:

Author Interview – A.C Thomas
Author Interview – Jethro Weyman
Author Interview – Noir Hayes
Author Interview – S.D. Reed
Author Interview – Havelah McLat

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thegirlwhowhispered.com

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