Let’s get back on track!

Hi guys!

Dusting off the cobwebs on my blog (and website, and Twitter, and… everything, really!)

So, as I explained, I am currently completing a Master’s Degree and… wow, is it difficult! It’s been taking up so much of my time that I haven’t had chance to do anything in terms of writing, editing, marketing, etc. It’s crazy!

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But today I had my viva, and although I haven’t yet finished, hopefully I have freed up some time to get back to blogging, writing, editing, and updating everything!

It’s good to see that I’m still getting royalties, even though I have done next to no marketing what so ever. And come onto my WordPress in what feels like a few months to see I’m getting traffic through – even if it’s a little, it feels like it’s actually improved, even though I haven’t been blogging frequently.

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As I’m nearly the end of my Masters I’ve been really thinking about getting my own business up and running, selling my own work (see below for links to my two published books), doing a bit more freelance work.

I have also wanted to do a vlog or something similar… maybe branch out a little from writing, getting back into photoraphy, both landscape and architecture as well as modelling photography (I have plans of making a room into a photography room!)

And… I have plans for a new instagram account.. but this one will be a bit of fun.

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Of course, get back into writing and editing my two last books; Ender’s Love and Rose Garden Sanatorium!

Rose Garden Sanatorium(1)

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Here are the links to my books (in paperback):

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are the links to the e-book versions:

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are links to my social media:

Twitter

Instagram (going to have a revamp soon!)

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A while ago I signed myself up for a charity walk with The HALO Trust, which involved a 34km walk along the Salisbury Plain Training area. The challenge (Safe Steps) was to help raise money (and awareness) to reduce landmines around the world.

https://www.halotrust.org/

On the 25th, myself and my partner completed it! (Pictures below)

…And were we regretting signing up for it at the end of the day! Sore from the waist down, blisters on our feets, sunburn because we both forgot suncream and weren’t expecting the sun to be that strong! And in much need of a cup of tea (or something stronger!)

But now that I have recovered (almost, still a bit of sunburn!), I am glad I completed it! It’s an amazing charity and we managed to raise ~£310 (also expecting another £30 soon!) in total.

I am a little disappointed we didn’t manage to raise the £500 total, but the £310-£340 is still a good chunk, and along with all the other walkers (505 in total), I am confident they managed to raise a decent amount on Saturday!

Now, here are some photos from the day! (Photos are my own, if you wish to use them, please get in touch!)

Fundraising to reduce landmines!

Update 12/08/2020: Please note this fundraiser has now ended, please don’t try send me funds. Thank you. 🙂

On the 25th of May, myself and a friend will be walking 35km through Salisbury Plain Training Area for the charity, The HALO Trust.

The HALO Trust support several projects, including landmine clearance, which will be the project we will be supporting.

As we both work/study on the UK’s Defence Academy, we are both invested in such a project, and are both excited to raise awareness and funds for such a great cause!

Our target is £500 for the two of us. However, we’d like to smash this target and raise as much as possible for all the good work The HALO Trust do around the world.

If you’re interested in helping this cause, please check out here:

https://www.gofundme.com/penny-and-liam039s-campaign-for-the-halo-trust

TheHALOTrustWalk

I signed myself up to a Virtual Challenge!

I signed myself up for a virtual walking challenge today with Race at your Pace. It’s only a walking challenge, to get myself into the swing of things. Build up my fitness, as my fitness went hugely downhill after a health scare last year. I need something to push me to get back out again, as there isn’t much to do around here other than go to a cafe… especially in the cold… and when you haven’t got a car!

I also am slightly curious to know how this will turn out… I’ve never done a virtual challenge before, and I only heard about it on a Facebook ad. I don’t tend to pay any attention to Facebook ads, they’re usually just full of *cough*crap*cough*. But I was curious to know what this Race at your Pace was.

I did a bit of research into other companies first, as there are a few. Some appear to raise money for charity, others are specifically for running challenges that you have to do in one lump (which I cannot do just yet), others hand out pretty cool medals, from unicorns to marvel medals! In the end I decided to stick with Race at your Pace.

Race at your Pace is a virtual challenge where you sign up to a challenge, select your target and you basically go out and walk/run/cycle/swim over that month to hit your selected target. You can split that running time up over the month. For example, if you signed up to a 50 mile running challenge, you can run one day, take a break, run the next day, and as long as you run 50 miles in that month, you met your target.

You submit your evidence by either taking a photo of your fitbit, your app on your phone, or the screen on your electric bike. Once you have completed your challenge, you get your medal (and a compression top if you go for that option too!)

It’s £10 for just the one challenge, £14 if you want the compression top as well.

And if you manage to complete your challenge, you get a medal posted to you!

This is what the February medals look like:

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(photo taken from the Race at your Pace website)

I figured, my walk to University is a mile each way. That’s at least 2 miles in a day already. If I add that up to the month, that’s between 40-50 miles already.

Doesn’t sounds like a huge accomplishment, but I don’t go to university every day! This month along, I only have two modules, which run from the 21st until the end of the month. That’s only 20 miles.

So, if I sign myself up to a challenge, say I do a 50 mile challenge, that MAKES me walk at least 2 miles each day (not including weekends). Once I get myself into the habit of walking each day, I can up my limit. Say if I do a 50 mile challenge next month, in March I can up to it the 75 mile challenge, April up to the 100 mile, and I could even move onto the running challenges, swimming and cycling (although I’ll need to get myself a bike first!)

I’ll also get a cool collection of medals to show my achievements!

I’ll keep you guys updated on how I do. As January is nearly over, I only signed myself up to the 25 mile walking challenge this month, and I’ve only managed to record about 8 miles on my fitbit so far (its new, haven’t that long ago got it).

But I hope this challenge will encourage me to walk more!

Dealing with low days

With only 4 days left until I pick up my hire car and drive down south to start my Master’s Degree, I had to help my parents put boxing in the loft today.

My parents wanted their spare room back so all my stuff, that I’m not taking with me, had to go into boxes and up into the loft out of the way.

However, one of these boxes, the heavest one, which we had to take a few things out in order to get up the ladder, fell out of my mother’s grasp and hit me in the side/back (right into my rib) and knocked me over.

As a result, and the stress around getting these boxes up into the loft, my mood suddenly plummeted.

I’ve been fine for a while, with my mental health. But for me, it’s vital I DON’T get low, because if I do, it take a lot to get me back on my feet again. I don’t have a huge support network and as such this makes me feel worse. On good days, it doesn’t bother me, I feel independent and don’t care, but it’s not good on low days.

This is also difficult for me as a writer too. How can you pick yourself up to continue on? When you feel like everything is shit, you feel like there’s no point. It’s days like this that you could really do with someone to give you compliments, praise, well wishes, etc.

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[Image Source: https://www.juicylucydesigns.com/products/you-absolutely-did-it-flipping-well-done%5D

As well as the low days, having this mental health issue (I suffer with depression and anxiety), it can affect even every day things. I worry about saying something wrong and upsetting someone, I don’t do well in social situations and putting myself out there can be difficult (not just with my writing, but interacting with people) and as a result of the support network (or lack of), this also affects how I interact with people.

And low days… makes it so much worse!

So, I’m writing this post for awareness, so people out there not only know a little more about me and my stuggles at becoming an author, but anyone who reads this will know… you’re not alone! Please do connect with me if you, like me, need that little bit of encouragement because you suffer with mental health issues or would generally like to know more!

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

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[Image Source: https://www.soumo.eu/yellow-happy-sunday-flowers/%5D

13 days to go!

The count-down begins!… Well, it began the moment I got a release date, but I haven’t used that line yet…

13 days left until I fell in Love with a Psychopath is released!

E-book will be available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you would like a paperback copy, watch this space! 🙂

Coming 29th September!

Tired today, the rejection took it out of me…

…I think I need time to recoop and recover.

Yesterday, I got my first rejection letter. If you’ve not seen my previous blog post, read it here.

And although, at the time, it didn’t bother me, as I was expecting rejection, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise… I have however, had a few bad days with my writing now.

First, the fail with the Watty Awards 2018 knocking my confidence, then this rejection letter… and to make matters worse, I don’t have a lovely large support network. To keep it brief; a lot of my friends have drifted away from me since I have moved away (literally moved to the other side of the country!) and as such, I don’t have a large support network of friends and family picking me back up again. So, I have to pick myself up, just takes a bit longer.

Anyway, today, I am exceptionally tired. And, I think it’s because of the last few days of negativity.

Current mood:
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On the plus side, I read through a ‘favourite’ chapter of mine from my book; Rose Garden Sanatorium last night, before I went to bed, to cheer me up a little (as well as watching 2 Guns for a bit!) and I was surprised with myself at how well I had written it. Perked me up a little.

I’m also planning on looking into a few new ideas on marketing myself and my work a bit more. Using Instagram more (if it would work for me, currently not working on my mobile!), blogging more, might even look at submitting a short story.

Or… I might just take a break. When my Master’s Degree starts in October, I don’t think I’m going to have much time for anything other than university work and working part-time!

*Wishes on a miracle*

 

Summer work in Portree, Isle of Skye!

So, nearly a week ago, I took a 7 hour coach trip to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. I’m here working over the summer to gather the funds for my Master’s Degree in October!

I must admit, it’s a big struggle!! A few days ago I was in tears because a) my back was killing me, and b) it is really long hours manual work! (Cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc).

But, I’m hoping I can stick it out for the whole 3 months, until mid-September, not only will I get a fat paycheck for my work here, but I can explore Isle of Skye AND gain hotel experience so I can do it again if I want to.

I haven’t seen much of the Island yet, only the sights on the coach trip, and Portree itself. Here are some photos:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 3

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 3

Officer Jennifer Finley

“Sir, what’s going on?” asked a young woman with brown short cropped hair underneath a black army helmet that was strapped uncomfortably under her slightly pointy chin.

The young woman had rushed out of an official looking yet plain office-style building and out into the fresh morning air along with the rest of her team. She not only left the building behind her, but also the feeling of safety, as she hurried to keep up with her superior. Although the sense of dread didn’t stay behind, it was clearly following her and growing with every rushed step she took.

She dodged around her colleagues, as they were marching towards a large black van that was parked in the courtyard of the building, a few trees and bushes hiding it from the overlooking buildings in the vicinity.

She, and her team, were dressed in what could only be described as an official black tactical uniform, unlike the usual multi-terrain pattern combat clothing that the British Army wore. This uniform was specially designed for a different type of situation.

The trousers were modelled from the Viper Tactical Elite trousers but with a few adjustments, including the pure black colour specifically designed to be kept hidden in darker environments. Finley had once found it amusing to find out that even the colour had been tested to find the right shade of black. Like the Viper trousers they were modelled from, they sported eight different pockets; two deep hand pockets, two standard pockets at the back, two cargo pockets on the side and two thigh pockets on the front, with elastic adjuster cords for the knee pads hidden inside. However, the replaceable knee pads were specially reinforced with titanium and an aramid layer was added on the inside of the trousers for flame resistance.

The trousers were being held up by a black rapid-release belt which was supporting a utility pouch with a swiss-army knife, an air-tight box of ear-plugs, aramid rope, compass, and other items useful for surviving in extreme situations. Also on the belt was a 3W black aluminium LED torch and a magazine pouch with spare, full magazines for both the handgun and P90.

Around her right leg was a black adjustable holster holding her specially adapted Double-Action self-loading 9mm Glock 45-S. The S stood for ‘special’, which does not officially exist since it was adapted within the walls of building behind Finley. It had a specially adapted grip to not only hold a 31-round double-stack magazine, but a better designed grip for all weathers and situations and a specially designed UV light attachment underneath the barrel. The barrel of the gun, as well as the other necessary parts, had been tested to withstand larger forces, due to the specially adapted ammunition that had also been designed within the walls behind Finley, which not only had a specially adapted propellant but were expanding ammunition with a secret ingredient hidden inside. It also sported the usual 6-Goove right-twist rifling but with a higher twist rate for better accuracy.

The jacket was also designed off the British Army MTP Combat Waterproof smock, with two large chest pockets, two large fleece lined side pockets, a heavy duty two-way front zip with Velcro fastenings, Velcro adjustable cuffs, large external hood with adjustable elastic to shape and included the zips underneath the armpits to adjust airflow. However, the tab on the front for the rank slide has been removed, the large Velcro squares on the arms removed, an additional removable fleece lining for the changing seasons was included and it was sporting the same black colour design as the trousers. Also, unaware to the civilian were the reinforced pads stitched into sections of the smock, from the four chest pads, back supports and arms in multiple sections for greater flexibility and protection and an aramid layer much like the trousers.

Hidden under the smock was also a specially-designed reinforced body armour, both lightweight and slightly more flexible than the typical Osprey Assault Body Armour worn by the British Army, which is also designed in black with the rubber mouldings on the shoulders, but each body armour is specifically moulded and designed for the individual wearer rather than a single production-line fit. Underneath the armour is a simple black thermal and sweat-wicking t-shirt for greatest comfort.

The helmet protecting Finley’s head was also designed around the Virtus Helmet worn by the British Army, with under-chin supports that are easily adjustable, sculpted rear for neck protection, a layer of aramid throughout, fixed shroud for mounting night-vision goggles and can be fitted with a mandible guard and visor. The visor, however, was specially designed with abrasion resistance, anti-fog and mirror coating, photochromic and UV400 protected lenses, complete with a small hidden high-definition 1080p video camera capable of capturing infra-red and high-quality sound, and recently designed with on-display augmented reality with specially adapted data to help the wearer in particular sticky situations. The helmet also by default had a fully adjustable Personal Role Radio so teams could communicate more effectively.

Even the boots were specially designed, modelled off the All Leather Patrol Combat boots with Thinsulate lining, full leather with padded collar, removable EVA inner sole, PU sole and nylon laces. However, the steel shank and eyelets were replaced with titanium, there was an added titanium heel stiffener and toe cap, better grip on the sole with embedded cleats, and addition aramid sole and aramid stitched into the underside of the leather for flame resistance.

The gloves were also specially designed, with the same black used with the trousers and smock, with Sharktec FR palm, reinforced patches on the knuckles and fingertips, thermal insulation with sweat-wicking, highly durable aramid material making them abrasion resistant, blade cut resistant, tear resistant, puncture resistant and with overall flame resistance.

Accompanying her trousers, smock, armour, pouches, multiple pockets, belt, helmet and Glock, she also held her favourite item protectively tight to her chest with the use of a sling; the personal defence weapon; a FN P90-S. The submachine gun was also specially equipped with a customised infrared scope installed on top of it to give the agent a slight advantage in dark environments. It, like the Glock 45-S, had also been adapted to withstand the specially designed ammunition; a typical 5.7x28mm design, but expanding with a secret ingredient inside.

Finley rolled her shoulders up slightly to adjust the weight pressing down, while regretting skipping a few days in the gym. The tactical uniform looked odd on the young woman’s small and skinny frame, which gave her a few annoying sexist comments from her male colleagues, but she knew she was just as capable as them. She, like her comrades, were carefully selected from British Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies.

Finley herself had served in the Royal Air Force, originally applying as an Intelligence Analyst straight after completing her A-Levels at college at the age of 18. She completed her basic training at RAF Cranwell, went on to complete a language course at the UK’s Defence Academy, becoming almost fluent in Arabic, and was moved to the Intelligence Analyst Linguist division, before being quickly promoted to an Intelligence Officer. She moved around a lot, having been stationed at many different RAF bases, including her favourite, RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus for a few months but she was unfortunately relocated back to England with no prospect of returning.

But aside from the appealing changes in locations, she was getting quickly bored of the work after a few years and began entertaining the idea of moving into a role within one of the Intelligence Agencies. She was adamant it was this that led to being approached by a man who was so shrouded in secrecy that it sent shivers down her spine. She wouldn’t admit it, but she wasn’t completely sure she knew what she was agreeing to. She was extremely excited to join the most secret service there was; so secret, only a very select few in the world even knew it existed. She scored just above average on almost all of her gruelling tests and training, and average on her physical fitness test.

She never in her wildest dreams would have imagined she’d end up where she was. She only recently, possibly in the last few minutes after hearing the dreaded alarm go off in the building and having a sneaky suspicion that it wasn’t one of Captain Stroud’s early morning drills, started to regret accepting that mysterious man’s offer. She wouldn’t admit this, not to her superiors; Captain Stroud, nor the Director General and most certainly not to her comrades. Nor would she admit how nervous she was. Especially since the Director General himself was leading this mission. It was one thing going through the rigorous training, thousands of different drills, learning about a rather unforgiving and almost unbelievable enemy, but another facing the real thing.

“What you are trained to do, agent,” replied a tall, handsome and greying man, also in the specially adapted tactical uniform and another P90 held to his chest, the Director General, Duncan Ryan. There were no markings on his uniform to suggest he was the Director General, even Captain Stroud had no markings. It was a safety thing; the enemies they faced were generally extremely intelligent, so they weren’t allowed any advantage. They even practiced T42 frequently; another member pretending to be the leader, just in case.

“Does this mean…” the woman started, but the man stopped his stride abruptly and turned around to look at her, giving her a stern look. The young Officer stopped herself and instantly fell quiet as her superior’s eyes searched her own.

After a few seconds, he spoke, “I suggest you leave the questions to me, is that clear?”

“Yes, sir.” She nodded, suddenly holding her posture authoritatively.

“Good, you will all find out soon enough what is going on,” the man said, and waved the woman and the rest of his team into the van. The door had been opened by Captain Stroud at the front of the group, who had a large black yet neatly trimmed beard to match his large dark sideburns underneath his own tactical helmet. “Briefing in the van.”

The woman climbed into the back of the van after the rest of her comrades, settling into a custom-made seat next to a man with bright red hair and a nervously worried face that could compete with her own. The Director General was the last to get in, shutting the van door behind him, plummeting the vehicle in eerie silent darkness and before her eyes were able to adjust to the sudden change, the van lurched forwards to take them to their destination.

The woman’s eyes fell on the outline of the man right by the door, clearly seeing he held his posture authoritatively himself, as he stared out into space. The woman wondered if he, the Director General, was just as scared as the rest of them, because she had a horrible feeling this wasn’t a drill.

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Potential Career pathway – Data Scientist

 

Recently I’ve been really considering what to do after I have completed my Psychology Undergraduate Degree at the Open University, and when I first got into the degree, my initial idea was to just explore the subject because of my interest in Psychology and Criminology.

I went through stages throughout my undergraduate degree learning, thinking about becoming a Forensic Psychologist was one, and although I had since talked myself out of it – because, let’s face it, I’m not really a people person! I have since come to the conclusiong that I really love a) working behind the scenes and b) statistics!

I have a few options, some more to do with psychology than others:

1) A neuropsychologist,
2) A Forensic Scientist,
3) A statistician,
4) A Research (in another field other than neuropsychology),
5) Investigator/Intelligence (E.g. National Crime Agency) or
6) Data Analyst or Data Scientist.

I came across a Data Scientist only recently – I can’t even remember how I came across it, only that it was recent – and as such I’ve become increasingly interested.

I wrote about it on my Facebook account and I even started a small discussion with a friend in America about it and after a small conversation about my past experiences (the fact I did a National Diploma in Computer programming (and got good marks too!) and have on a number of occasions proved that I can problem solve independently – one example is that I recently create an Open Sesame experiment as part of my last psychology degree project and I was telling my tutor how to work it!) and not to mention that my interest for problem solving, statistics and maths in general, he actually agreed that Data Science was a good career path for me!

So, with that in mind, I have since gone onto EdX, a Free Online Courses website which has top universities on there – such as Harvard and Berkley- and I have found there are a few courses on Data Science and Data Analysis, one such course is actually a Microsoft Professional Program.

I’m currently auditing the Introduction to Data Science course and I have to admit, my interest for the subject is only increasing!

Here is the link to the course if you are reading this and interested yourself: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:Microsoft+DAT101x+1T2018/course/

So far I have got as far as the speakers importing a small data file into Excel and running a few simple Excel functions to clean and analyse the data, most of which I already know from doing a previous course on EdX, but I am going to continue watching the videos and going through this short introduction course to see what else being a Data Scientist involves.

The good thing about this career path, is not only is a well paid job and a challenge (I do like a challenge! I got bored as a simple Administrator!) but that it is in High Demand, especially since the emergence of Big Data but also that it’s universal to different companies and organisations. Which means, I could use these skills to combine two or more of my above career options; for example, I could be a Data Scientist for a governmental organisation and work within an investigations/intelligence environment!