Book Review: The Missed Kiss by Nicola Lowe.

Honestly, this is not my usual genre to read, but I was pleasantly surprised by how this book gripped me. The Missed Kiss is a beautiful tale of love and friendship, full of twists and turns that will keep you reading until the end. The characters are superbly crafted, lovable and relatable.

I quickly found myself immersed in this world that Nicola created, with the pacing of the story and the character development being perfect.   

The Missed Kiss is a well written and fun read, that will leave you wanting more. If you’re after a rollercoaster of emotion, grab this book – it won’t disappoint.

(Side note – if you’re a guy thinking about giving this a read, you should certainly give it a try. As I said, romance isn’t my usual genre, but this was so well written that I couldn’t stop reading.)

Conclusion- You can feel the love and emotion that went into this book’s creation. It’s sweet, with a modern edge. Truly a brilliant and beautiful debut novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buy here!

Walking for Mind – Update 1.

Walking for @mind –

Day 14 of 90.

I have managed to walk a total 250,954 steps in 14 days… Two weeks into the challenge, and I’m still going strong.
I’m so close to hitting my sponsor target already, which is incredible to me. Huge thank you to everyone that’s donated, thus far. All money goes directly to Mind, and is probably helping somebody right now.

Lee Vockins is fundraising for Mind (justgiving.com)

Why I’m supporting Mind – “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect,” is their mission statement. I don’t think there’s much more that needs to be said. The majority of us, throughout our lives, will experience a problem with mental health, whether it’s directly or through a loved one. It’s unfortunately part of being human, and that’s an important thing to remember.

There’s still a huge amount of stigma and ignorance surrounding the subject. This toxic positivity and “smile and carry on” attitude is harming generations. It’s stopping people get the help and support they need.

We need to raise as much awareness as possible, and let those people know that there’s hope. There’s help out there. They need to know that they won’t be judged or let down, because speaking from experience, that’s a very real fear. Mind could be that first step to someone’s recovery – that’s why I’m supporting them.

   

Total steps walked: 250,954 / 1,500,000

Money raised: £162 (+£20 to add) out of a goal of £200.  

Facing A Fear: A Hello From Me.

So, I faced a huge fear of mine yesterday. I put my face and voice on camera, to say hello to my Twitter following. I was nervous. I was awkward. But, I pushed myself, because pushing myself out of those comfort zones is what it’s going to take to achieve my dreams. I will practice. I will get better. I will face every fear until I am where I want to be.

Here it is. It’s me. Unedited and awkward. Saying hello to you all.

I’ll run and hide now.

What I learned from this; I always expect the worse from people, when really, I am part of a very supportive community. I had such lovely comments on this video, over on Twitter. I have always been incredibly self conscious of my voice and afraid of people not being able to understand what I’m saying. Yet, most of the comments were compliments on my voice. It just goes to show that our self interpretation isn’t always that accurate.

Also, I am very capable of stepping out of that comfort zone. I felt incredible for doing so. I will be doing more of this in the future, because I oddly enjoyed the process.

I felt that this was important to blog about, because it is truly in the fear that we grow. Lean in to that anxiety. Face that fall. Your dreams are there, waiting for you to grasp them.

5 Things that You May Not Know About Me.

I’ve been here for a while now. There’s a fair few of you following my ramblings, so for that, I want to say a big thank you. When I began my journey here, I wasn’t sure how long it would last, but then I guess I didn’t have much confidence in my ability. You have all given me the confidence I need to write and ramble here.

That brings me to the point of today’s post. I like to be open here, and for you all to know who I am. I like to think that perhaps you’ll find something useful, or something to gain inspiration or motivation from. So, here are 5 things that you may not know about me:

  • Probably one of the main reasons that I started this blog was for a distraction. I used to struggle with my mind to a point of being unable to cope. This was mostly due to ten years of PTSD. I blogged my recovery progress, although compared to my writing ability today, it’s not very well written. This became a place for me to vent and grow comfortable with sharing my struggles. I have to say, it absolutely worked. I am free of all those things that stopped me from being me.
  • Adding to my struggles with mental health, I have OCD. It’s easy to manage these days, but one thing you may have noticed in my fiction is a theme of “four”. Four is the number of times that I compulsively check something. Locking doors and checking doorhandles is the worst. My mind doesn’t seem to believe something is done, until it’s checked four times. This can obviously make writing a long process… and somehow, those spelling mistakes still creep through.
  • I’m vegan. This is a fairly new journey for me, but I thought I’d add it here, for people that purely follow my blog. I became vegan around six months ago, mainly because of personal beliefs, but am also amazed at how different I am feeling physically and mentally. I also love cooking, so that added challenge of making my favourite meals vegan has been an enjoyable process. I’ve also developed a better eating routine and a meal plan that free’s up a load of my time. It’s really been a huge and positive change for me. My weight stays optimal. I have loads of energy. I can think clearly. I’m calmer, and as a result, I can handle anxiety more easily. Good nutrition is a powerful thing.  
  • Whilst growing up, I had always wanted to be a guitarist in a band (I had long black hair and everything). I got my first guitar when I was sixteen, and have played on and off ever since. I can play to a decent level. My idol was Matt Heafy from Trivium, and the first song I learned to play was Like Light to the Flies. I also wrote songs and lyrics. This is probably where my creativity started, and it was another distraction for my mental health issues. Playing guitar, especially an electric, is a great release for anger and frustration, and teaches focus. I even got a letter published in Total Guitar magazine, during my teens. That was certainly a highlight of my angsty youth.
  •  I had learning difficulties when I was young. I was very slow to read and developed my writing ability later in life than most. I had never been diagnosed with dyslexia, but I needed a lot of extra help. Even at thirteen, I was yet to read a book. I remember it being frustrating times, and of course, I was singled out because of it. Believe it or not, but breaking out of the struggle all came down to teaching myself. The first book I read was Troy by Adele Geras, then I went on to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkein. I skipped school to read these, and went to the library instead… I was also quite a rebellious and stubborn teen, but it worked out for me… and trust me, I haven’t changed much.

Hope you found this post somewhat interesting. It’s still crazy to me that people follow my work and read my craziness. I love and appreciate you all.

(Also, if you haven’t had a look at my other project site yet, it’s right here: http://www.redefined-media.com.)

2021 Goal Setting.

Last year was shit, right? It was crazy and unpredictable. It was chaotic and stressful. It was the kind of year that I want to forget… mostly. You see, it wasn’t just the events of 2020 that I need to learn from, it was the mistakes I made when I got caught up in the chaos. And I did learn a lot. The lockdown gave me time to stop and think. It gave me time to reflect and learn about myself.  

I’d like to say that I spent last year writing and planning, but unfortunately, I didn’t. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing, and eventually, through all the chaos, I did. Perhaps 2021 won’t be much different, but it will be for me. I have a new perspective that I cannot be shaken from. This isn’t a “new year, new me” post, because it’s taken more than a brief time of reflection to get to this state of mind… this has been about 10 years in the making.

They say not to reveal what you’re working until it’s done, as outside energy can influence progress. I say that it’s outside energy that allows me to work hard at everything I do. So, I want to tell you a bit about what I’m doing this year, what I’m hoping to achieve, and how you can join me.

What I’m doing this year.

Importantly, I’m still writing– I still write a lot. Although I have begun to write in a wider range of formats, like reviews and articles, I’m still writing creatively. I have been working on three projects that I am really excited about, one of which will be released this year (see below). I am still working on The Hunter rewrite, but it has evolved into something bigger than I first anticipated and I need it to be perfect before it is released. You’ll also notice that I have removed all of my short stories from here; this is because I am working on editing them all up to my current level of ability and will be releasing them in the form of a collection.

A Saga from Within: Beneath the Ice, Beyond Us– I’ve been playing around with ideas for this for what seems like forever, but have finally cracked where I wanted to take it. This is a fiction piece that will be released as a novella. Although fiction, it’s a story that has come from somewhere within me that needed to be expressed. Here’s a sneak peek:

“The end of them arrived in snow,

blankets of cold white covering sheets of ice.

An infinite aurora encapsulated in glittering void.

Green and blue, black and the purest of white, this place is beautiful,

but it is a beauty that will remain so long after they have gone.

  Feeble, they are, but knowing.

Knowing, but unseeing, blind of their truth.

Gods of energy, weak, in tombs of flesh, hungry only for earthly gain.

I see a light in them, but it fades.

It fades beneath belief and ego,

it wavers in the face of the constructed.”

I’m studying to be a life coach– I feel like I have a responsibility to pass on what I have learned through my journey of mental health recovery, and so life coaching feels like the right path for me to take. I’ve gained a substantial amount of knowledge in the past 10 years or so, in the fields of psychology and philosophy. I’ve taken up spiritual practices and used other holistic methods. I have struggled, but I have conquered, and it was thanks to a combination of all of these elements. I want to pass all of this on to others that may be struggling. I believe that I can help others find their purpose, the way that I have, and help them conquer anything that may be preventing them from reaching their potential. I need a reason for going through what I did, and I think that I have found it. I finish my studies this year and will be setting up my practice in the near future.

Within: The Four Sides of Us– I’m working on a self-help book, that incorporates everything that I have learned from my own experience, education, and routine of self-care. My recovery was aided through a combination of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, and so this book will combine those into an approachable practice. I personally believe that there is a connection between the subjects. My thesis is that there are four sides of our psyche that we should harness, or be aware of, and within that is an ultimate answer to finding balance, happiness and potential. As you can probably guess, my heart and soul are going into this book. I’m hoping to release this book as I set up my life coaching practice.

Further studying– And I’m not stopping there! I plan on furthering my studies by taking a course in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), the same therapy that began my recovery and helped me greatly. After this, with my practice set up, I will carry on studying in different fields of psychology. I will forever be in pursuit of the knowledge I need to help others, and I’m looking forward to the challenge it will provide. This is a subject close to my heart. A purpose that I will dedicate myself to.  

ReDefined Media– I’m joining forces with two fellow writers to release a new website! ReDefined Media will cover a diverse range of topics, from news and reviews, to the supernatural and fiction. Our aim is to create a place where writers can contribute, using their own voice, without the need to pander to rules and mainstream views. It will be a place for real expression, opinion, and creativity. We have so many ideas with this! There will be monthly competitions, podcasts, live streams, and charity events. Keep an eye out for a post on this soon; ReDefined Media is incoming.

( Actually, at the time of posting this, ReDefined Media is live! It’s something that I’m still working on, but if you’d like to check it out and show me some love over there, please do… http://www.redefined-media.com . )

And I think that just about does it. These are my goals for 2021, and with everything I am, I will achieve them. I haven’t felt this focused or determined in a long time. I feel like I have a direction now, and a means to achieve everything that I need to. I’ve wanted to follow a path that leads to helping people, and with this, I feel like I can. It’s been a while since I have felt this confident in what I am doing, and it’s thanks to the support that I receive from everyone that surrounds me. I can feel in my soul that 2021 is going to be the start of something great… I hope you’ll follow me in this journey, just like so many of you have so far. I’m here for you, the same way that you have been here for me.

Want updates on everything mentioned here? Follow me on:

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My Top 5 Books of 2020.

2020 was certainly a year in which books were a huge part of my life, with that want for escape and learning being needed more than ever. With that said, here are the top 5 five books that helped me survive the odd year that was 2020.

Diversion to Urasha by Laura Hopgood.

Diversion to Urasha was the perfect escape into a captivating world of Sci-Fi adventure. I become lost in the beautifully crafted story last summer, and look forward to reading more this year.

“I recommend Laura’s work to anyone that wishes for an easy read and a quick escape from reality. She is a talented individual, that writes with emotion and heart.”

Hope Quest (Book 1): Blackbird by Melanie Ever Moore.

Another amazing escape, but this time into something much darker. This is another series that I look forward to returning to this year. 

“Hope Quest: Blackbird is stylish, darkly-elegant and beautifully delivered.”

Happy by Derren Brown.

I found this book at a difficult time last year. It helped me change my mind set completely, and put me on the path that I am now. Through it, I found my interest in philosophy. Books are powerful things…

“This book will have you questioning much about your life, but then if you picked it up for the reason I did, you have probably already begun questioning. It is through questioning ourselves about our situation and choice that we can make change, and this book is a perfect stepping stone to that longer journey of discovery.”

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

…and this book fortified that interest in philosophy. Stoicism is not just an interesting philosophy, but a powerful state of mind that is applicable to everyday life. I am returning to The Daily Stoic this year, as well as picking up some more Ryan Holiday to read.

“If you heed its teachings, I believe that it has the potential to change the way you think about life and its challenges. It could make you stern and resolute in the face of any situation. It will help you find serenity and peace of mind in the chaos of this modern world. I will be re-reading this for years to come and will continue to use it for references and my morning meditations.”

Quiet by Susan Cain.

Wow. Just wow. This book empowered me to a whole other level. I’d always struggled with my difference, but Quiet brilliantly highlighted the strengths in those differences.

“Quiet is an incredible book. It was called the most important book published in a decade, and I completely agree. I say this book left me speechless, and it did at first, but after absorbing so much information, I find myself with a lot to say on the subject. Quiet is a book that spoke to me on many levels, and is a book that should be read by most.”

All of these books were worthy of a 5/5 rating from me. You should go check them out!

Rating: 5 out of 5.