Friday, 31 August 2018

Friday Favourites

I've been stressing a lot about a few things this week, my book among them - both The Zi'veyn, and the second installment which, as I mentioned last week, is nearing completion. So I've been trying to give myself other things to think about. It's not been proving easy, so I've been throwing myself into making new stock for Myth of the Wild for Christmas, and into video games. Seeg and I just hit 120 in World of Warcraft and have been moving through some pretty great stories and zones, but better yet has been Kingdom Come Deliverance, which took us a month and a half to finish - it was such a big game!

Kingdom Come Deliverance is a medieval RPG (non-fantasy - shocker, I know) steeped in history, set in the Kingdom of Bohemia during 1403, and filled with as much historical accuracy as a game can reasonably - or, sometimes, unreasonably - have. One particular event jumps out, during which you must pose as a monk in a monastery in order to carry out your lord's orders, which means you have rules to adhere to - rise at 3am, morning prayer, eat, carry out studies and work, pray again, eat, bed at 9pm. Only during the hour after rising and before morning prayer, and the hour before going to bed, do you have any time to actually act upon your lord's orders, so imperative is it that you maintain cover. And yet, as restrictive as it was, it And informative. I learned that I do not want to be a monk, and that, for the most part, few people choose the life. In many cases it's the only option against living on the streets, or it's given as a punishment for disgracing their family. A banishment, in other words. Despite bugs - it was Warhorse Studio's first game, in their defence - it was a wonderful story and I look forward to its continuation and DLC.

Also, Rini's absolutely adorable art style deserves a mention, now that she's put a few of her Celestials prints up. Niuzao was always my favourite - I love oxen :B

Kingdom Come Deliverance   ♥   Hotel Chocolate 45% milk Ecuador
Niuzao, The Black Ox print by Rini   ♥    Wild Bangarang Nightborne leggings

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


   It's been a while since I've blogged properly, hasn't it? But it's been a busy few months. But so wonderful. May, Seeg and I got married. June, my gallery exhibit went up. July, my book was prepped and readied for release, and made available for pre-order. August, my book came out and I was, just recently, Fantasy Writer of the Day on the Fantasy subreddit page. Then there were all the porridge recipes for Battle for Azeroth's release, which I was focused on keeping as successive as I could. All in all, it didn't leave me much time for general posts.

   Now, though, things have mellowed out. Aside from collecting my exhibit next month, everything is as it is, and we have a little holiday coming mid-September, too. I'm really looking forward to it!
   World of Warcraft's new expansion came out last week so Seeg and I have been playing that together (for the Horde) in our free time, and I've been working on new pieces to stock my shop with for Christmas. It's been ages since I listed anything new because of just how busy this year has been so far, but I am at least aiming to get some new things up for Christmas. I'm restocking popular pieces like koroks and foxes, and I'm making new pieces, too. I'm also open for custom orders until about mid November, too - after which point I tend to get too busy to guarantee any completion in time for Christmas delivery.

   I've also been writing - obviously - and I'm making progress in leaps and bounds towards the end of this second book of the trilogy. That's not to say that it will be out in a hurry - once it's finished, I have to redraft it several times and then sit on it for a while to make sure I'm happy with it. I will in that time begin writing the third book, and only once I'm a good ways through that will I submit the second to agents. So you can expect it out about a year after completion, maybe a little less. But when November rolls around, I'll likely have to put writing on hold until January in favour of filling Etsy orders, so I only have about 2.5 months left to write this year. I'm hoping to be finished by then.
   I wish my writing was at a place where I could close my Etsy shop and just focus on it completely, but I could never make ends meet - not yet. I hope that will change in time. I hope it changes, period. But all I can do to get to that point is write and write and write whenever I have the time, just as I have been for the past 15 years since I was 12! And do you know what? It doesn't feel like a chore at all. I still live and breathe for it!

   Though things have mellowed, there are a few things still floating around that we both have hope for. But until any of it lands, we're trying to disregard them. Better to forget about things that are out of our hands rather than get disappointed. And I don't want to talk about them, either, until anything comes of it - I live by the idea 'don't tell people your plans, show them your results'.

   What have you all been up to so far this summer? x

Monday, 13 August 2018

Fantasy Writer of the Day + Free Book!

Head over to the Reddit thread, live on the Fantasy forum, and ask me any question you want.
It can be about writing, books, games, fitness, squirrels, mugs, the intricacies of ants' musical preferences - anything. I'll answer as best I can.

Also, The Zi'veyn and The Archguardians of Laceria are free on Kindle until Friday 17th!
Snatch them up while you can!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Fantasy Author AMA - Monday 13th

   Yes, just as with my first release, I've been lucky enough to have bagged another stint as the Fantasy Writer of the Day over at the Fantasy reddit page! As with last time, come over and ask me anything - it can be about my newest book, complaints comments about the first, or it could be about gaming, fitness, cakes or puppies! The clue is in the title: Ask Me Anything!
   Also, The Zi'veyn and Archguardians of Laceria will be available on the Kindle for free for everyone from the 13th to the 17th, so be sure to snap them up! They both take place in different worlds, and I feel that that of The Zi'veyn is much richer - perhaps because the basis of the story is steeped in the world's history, and it's planned as a trilogy rather than a stand-alone as Archguardians was. Either way, I'm immensely confident that The Zi'veyn is a much better read.

   Be sure to mark your calendars and head over.
   Also, I've added it to the 'events' list on my GoodReads author page, which I've only just established. You can RSVP on there and get a reminder. Otherwise, keep your eyes on my twitter page because I'm sure to mention it a handful of times!

   Head over to the fantasy reddit page on Monday 13th August, 3pm GMT - I'll add a link here with the Fantasy Writer of the Day thread when it's up.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Benefits Of Elliptical Machines

   Believe it or not, there is no one workout that fits all. Sure, there are workout methods that are guaranteed to burn off fat - like HIIT or circuit training - but they will be more effective for some than others, and some people just don't have the willpower, especially if they're just starting out with fitness and find interval training intimidating. And then there's also the fact that some days we just don't feel like ourselves, but want to get in a workout rather than skip it all together. Generally, skipping a workout will only make you feel worse. Hello, guilt!

   Personally, I'm an advocate of using your own body weight or free weights - barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells dominate my kit, with a few various resistance bands thrown in. You can gain so much utility from your body with body weight workouts, and so much power - and burn so much fat! But it's not for everyone, and, to be honest, it's not for every day, either. Sometimes you feel run down and would rather something a little more straight forwards or with a little assistance, and gym machines can provide it - leg press, treadmills, elliptical machines. I bet you're thinking that those machines are pretty limited in use, right? How much can you really do with a treadmill? Turns out, a ridiculous amount. The same goes for most gym machines, to be honest. If you follow Jillian Michaels on Facebook or Twitter you'll probably already know what I'm talking about. There are so many ways to get the most out of a single piece of kit, it just takes know-how. I still prefer to use the weight of barbells and my own body, but, like I said, some days you're just not up for anything too explosive, and sometimes low impact really is the way to go.

   Emily Roberts has written a brief intro article to one of the more popular pieces of gym equipment: the elliptical machine. It's well worth a read if you're thinking of expanding your home gym.


   Finding the right workout for you can be quite difficult when there are so many different types that you can do. One of the most popular workout routines just now is an elliptical workout which works both the upper and lower part of your body. In this article, we are going to take you through some of the benefits of using elliptical trainers. Make sure to keep reading if you’d like to find out more.

Dual Action

   Our first benefit of using an elliptical machine is that you can work two parts of your body at once. When using a machine like the Bowflex Max Trainer which is one of the most popular home workout equipment choices, you can work out your glutes, back, chest, hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps and your biceps. This is a total workout and you won’t find any other machines using these many parts of your body. Make sure to check out these types of machines if you want to enjoy a dual action workout.

Low Impact

   One of the great things about elliptical machines is that they are actually low-impact exercise. This is great for those people who cannot use a high-impact machine but still want to work out. When you use an elliptical machine, you are keeping your feet on the machine at all times. This means you won’t have to worry about running too hard on your legs and damaging any parts of your body.

Quick Workout

   When you use an elliptical machine, you are working your body quite hard. You’ll burn calories pretty quickly, meaning that you don’t have to use the machine for as long. This is great for those who don’t have a lot of time to work out as the whole thing is over in a relatively short space of time. Make sure to try an elliptical machine if you want to enjoy a quick workout but still be able to see some results.


   If you like to personalise your workout then you will love elliptical machines. These machines can be adjusted to do different types of workout and you can change how hard it is to use. This is great for those who want to take up hill walking but cannot get out to a hill. With an elliptical machine, you’ll get lots of options and you’ll be able to personalise your workout.

Burn Lots Of Calories

   Our final benefit of using an elliptical machine is that you will burn a lot of calories. Because of the dual action workout, you’ll burn calories fast and you’ll be able to lose some weight a lot quicker. Using an elliptical machine is fun and you’ll love how easy you can burn calories when you use one.

Final Verdict

   There are lots of benefits to using an elliptical machine with things like burning calories fast and getting a total workout being massive draws for a lot of people. Make sure to try out an elliptical machine if you want to get fit fast and for a reasonable price.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Resistance Training - 5 Weeks Later

   I've been on this resistance training program for five weeks now, I upped my weights this past Monday, and I'm seeing all the same progress as I did in my last program April-May. From the end of the first week I noticed my skin looked healthier - it was more vibrant, smoother, tighter, and generally looked and felt amazing. It wasn't necessarily that I'd built up new muscle - it had only been a week, after all - but rather to do with circulation and nutrition. Just like last time, I've revisited my eating habits and piled more nutritious foods onto my plates like grains and a greater variety of veggies. I've never been remotely vegetarian so I'm still getting my protein from eggs, salmon, chicken, turkey, whey and milk, and with them a variety of other nutrients.
   After three weeks I felt stronger and slimmer, too, and being able to increase the weight by 2.5kg, I'm absolutely certain that my strength is improving. My reps crept up after two weeks by about 2-3 per set, and I've increased my weights to 15kg - it's not a huge amount, I'm sure lots of experienced ladies reading this might scoff, but the movements/position of the weight in the workouts I'm using in this program were new to me so the last thing I wanted was to injure myself. But as far as the familiar moves like deadlifts go, I've increased it to 20kg, which is the highest my barbell can go at the moment and while that's presently an appropriate challenge - a little over one third of my body weight - I'm sure I'll need a new pair of plates by the end of the month! Yay!

   I'm also trying to eat a little more on training days - I've been reading about body recomposition, a means of losing fat while gaining muscle, which is a bit of a contradictory thing since losing fat means creating a calorie deficit while gaining muscle requires a calorie surplus, but it's basically what I've already been doing. I try to create a small deficit on rest days anyway, and eat a little more on training days, but I've always wondered if I wasn't still eating too little on training days and, according to my research, I have. So I'm going to increase training day calories by another 100-150, totalling about 1750 calories a day, while my rest days will be about 1500 calories. It may still not be enough, but I'd think I will see an improvement. Only time will tell, though.
   I'm in resistance training for the long-haul; I don't expect to see fat-loss happen in a few weeks and neither am I focusing on it. Instead it's strength, ability and efficiency I'm working towards, and that means range of movement, depth and weights. I'm still supplementing with Core de Force, though, for its MMA-HIIT fusion.
   It's also possible, as far as I've read, that trying body recomp as I am now may not work as well as it would if I'd stopped training for a couple of months or never trained at all, but I've got a low-impact month pencilled in for October, when I finish this 3-month training plan, and if I start with body recomp right off the bat in November, I may have an easier time of it.

   But, as it's so close to what I've been doing anyway, just eating a little more on training days, it takes little adjustment and might result in better, leaner gains, so I'm going to give it a shot all the same.

   I'll increase my weights again in 4 weeks and update again then if there's any progress worth mentioning. Otherwise, on I go!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

It's Release Day!


   I'm so excited!! It's such a huge feeling! It's not my first book, but I feel no less buzzy about it than I did 2 years ago. To have two years' worth of work culminate into a book release, it's the most rewarding thing ever. I couldn't sleep last night, and I've felt sick with excitement and nervousness for days.
   It's available on Kindle for £1.99/$3, or Kindle Unlimited for free for those who subscribe to the prolific reading service. It's also on paperback for the painful price of £13.50/$22 - print-on-demand; rest assured it's definitely not greed on my part :(.
   Otherwise, you can read chapter 1 & 2 for free on the Kindle product page.

   I will admit, though, that it hasn't all gone the way I've wanted it to.
   It's proven very difficult to find willing book bloggers. I totally understand their aversion to self-published works for review - it will cost them time, and time is valuable, and a self-published book is statistically more likely to be a pile of rubbish than a traditionally published book, but - read on - there are so many reasons to be rejected by a literary agent that have nothing to do with writing quality.
    A literary agent can reject you for any number of things. The first to come to mind is that the book is rubbish. Fair enough. But then there are many more reasons that can lead to the rejection of something that could well go on to become a best seller. The market may not be quite right; the story could be too radical or new; it could be that, based on the first chapter or three that they read, as is the standard practice, it appears too similar to other things on the market whether there's a unique twist or narrative or not. It could also be rejected because they're not taking on any new clients at that time, or that they don't handle that genre (so you should always check agents' websites and twitters to find out what they're doing), or that they just don't have the contacts to take your particular use of their approved genre where it needs to go to be worth either of your time. And there are many more besides.
   In short, every writer really needs someone to take a huge chance on them.

   So, while it hasn't started the way I'd have liked it to, I genuinely believe it's worth everyone's time. I'm very, very hard on myself all the time, but even after all of my second- third- and sixteenth-guessing, I still believe it's worth reading. I would not have self-published it and put it out there in front of the masses where I can so easily be shot down, ridiculed and slated.
   But I did get great feedback and compliments from the agents who actually responded (which they're not actually supposed to offer unless they're considering taking it on), and was told that it was both very enjoyable and very unique. But the trouble with a literary agent's job is that they make no money until I do - ie, when the book actually sells. And it takes a lot of work on their part to get a book into that position, so most agents only take on one or two new writers a year, and every time they do, it's a huge risk - potentially a lot of time and work for zero reward. Now consider how few literary agents deal with fantasy, and you see my dilemma.

   And the other side of the coin, of course, is that self-publishing is too easy. Anyone can do it. Which means that the world of Kindle is, for the largest part, a slush pile. No one is interested in us because we could well be awful. If we were any good, we'd have an agent and have gone the traditional route, right? If you said 'yes', read that first paragraph again. If you still say 'yes', then I can't argue with you because I'm of the same mind. I'm not interested in self-published books because, odds are, they're awful. The ideas could be under-cooked, they could be repetative, they could be ridiculous; the writing could be equally half-baked, unproofed, unformatted, void of all paragraphing; the spelling could be...painful.

   The thing is, I genuinely believe that my work is worth your time and their time, but none of the nine agents have seen fit to give me a chance, and I completely understand and respect that. I don't like it, but I understand it, and that's what counts. But, see, everyone else who has self-published doubtlessly thinks the same thing, and I'm shouting as loud as they are. I have to let my work do the talking - but I have no idea how to get it out there. That's another area a literary agent handles. Marketing and distribution. I haven't the foggiest.
   So I'm looking for fantasy book bloggers to give it a read and write a review, or for a few reviews on Amazon, or even just a few organic mentions on twitter or Instagram. But I don't know where to turn for it. Advertising has always been my weak point.

   But enough of that. It's release day, and I'm happy. Whether it's traditional or not, it's out there, and I'd love you all to read it.

   Get The Zi'veyn on Kindle, or on your Kindle App (free and usable on smart phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, Macs, etc) for £1.99, or free with Kindle Unlimited. Paperback is, regretfully, £13.50. Another issue with self-publishing is everything being print-on-demand and Amazon being penny-pinchers, but I'd rather it was available as an over-priced paperback (for which, I must point out, I only make 50p from) than digital-only.
   I'm hoping to be able to offer some proof copies for reviewers, but at this point in time, I can only offer reviewers digital copies. If you'd prefer a paperback, let me know and I'll add you to a list. When I'm able to afford it, I'll start contacting.