Thursday, 22 November 2018

No more apologies



Can you tell my BPD is shot to shit at the moment? Can you?

For the past 12 or so hours, I've been in the anger phase of BPD. I'm fucking furious and want to hit, punch and scratch things until I feel better. Luckily, contrary to popular belief, I'm actually a functioning member of society and so I'm not going to do so.

One of the things that's pissing me off at the moment is that I'm fucking fed up of apologizing for my BPD. Am I an axe  murderer? No. Do I put small children in bags and throw them in rivers? Also no. So why am I expected to apologise as if I do?

All I really do is feel things. FEEL THINGS. Last time I checked emotions are relatively common thing across multiple species, so why are mine such a big deal? Maybe I fall for people quickly, maybe I have a significantly shorter temper than most, but this doesn't make me the monster that people think I am. Why, WHY, am I expected to apologize for something that, relatively speaking, isn't that much of a big deal. And, more to the point, I physically can't control. Would you constantly expect a person on crutches to say sorry? No. Then why the fuck am I expected to.

Something tells me this angry phase is going to last a while. It's currently swimming around my brain with cripplingly low self-esteem and an all-consuming desire for someone to love me, so the chances of it taking complete control are roughly 1 in 3, but I'll keep you updated.

Oh, and I'm not manipulative either, so that sweeping symptom of BPD can suck my fucking dick.

xXx

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Please



In my last post, I talked about my completely unwanted talent for attracting unavailable men. About how the only people who seem to be even remotely attracted to me either have wives, girlfriends or fall into the emotionally unavailable category. It's so easy to blame myself, but today I'm realising I need to think about it a different way.

If you're with someone, whether you say they're okay with you seeing other people or not, or you're just not able to date someone for whatever reason, maybe try leaving me the fuck alone? Don't kiss me when no one we know is looking, don't feel me up when we're by ourselves and certainly don't get jealous if you see me with other people. In the same way that you don't want me, I really, really don't want you and you will never truly understand the damage your actions are causing as a result of my BPD. To you it, and I, mean fuck all, but to me, it could mean the possibility of free falling into a never-ending BPD cavern that feels impossible for me to climb out of. I'll manage it, I always do, but it's just something I'd rather avoid.

But you know, that's just a suggestion.

xXx

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Magnetism



As a raging commitment-phobe, I find it hard to admit that I want to be with someone because I rarely know if I actually do. Blame it on past experiences, the worlds all consuming lack of knowledge of the thing living in my brain or my terrible taste in men, but I really struggle to admit it.

One of the main symptoms of BPD is a fear of abandoned, and sweet mother fucking Korean Jesus I wear that mother fucker like a branding. Since I was a teenager I hated getting close to people because I automatically assumed they'd leave, which they often did, and the agony I felt when they were no longer there was way, way more painful than the feeling of being alone. As a result of this, I always think it's safer for me to be alone, whether I want to be or not.

Much like JLo in the 2001 classic The Wedding Planner, I seem to be a magnet for unavailable men. Whether they have girlfriends, wives or are just balls deep in the "I don't want to be in a relationship rn" phase, they flock to me like a noughties teen to Dream Matte Mousse foundation. No matter how hard I try, I seem to fall ass of tit for these fuckers, even though I'm fully aware that we'll never be together, and not wanting them to leave their partners for me in the first place.

Single or not, do I want to start a relationship based on cheating? I think not.

In these situations, it's a balancing act between feeling that I'm not good enough for someone to love and trying to grasp hold of the remaining shreds of my self-confidence without crashing and burning like a mother bitch. Either way, I'm really not sure how to deal with it, but I'm really fucking done.

xXx






Wednesday, 24 October 2018

CANADA BABY




Snaps if you get the reference in the title. 

After what seems like a decade, I'm finally FINALLY moving to Canada next month. I haven't been able to blog much about it but, as I've finally left my job, I'm finally able to shout it from the rooftops.

The whole point of my move was to get the fuck away from England. To put it bluntly, I hate it here. Absolutely mother-fucking hate it. Aside from the people I love there is very little doubt in my mind that I won't miss a thing. 

As a result of this life-changing move, I'm currently balls deep in the process of trying to pack my entire life into a bag the size of an average sized 6 years and it's proving difficult. I'm going back and forth between "I haven't used this in a year so I won't take it" and "oooh but I might need this if I go out". 

Ignoring the fact that I rarely leave the house. 

Last night, thanks to a really good friend, I realised that, in doing this, I'm completely losing sight of why I decided to move in the first place. I'm not moving to transport my entire life to another continent, I'm moving to start a brand new one. I don't need to take 101 things that exclusively apply to my life in England, because it's not going to exist passed November 11th. It's ending, and I couldn't be happier if you paid me. 

Now I've remembered why I'm going, I'm feeling a lot calmer. It's over, it's done. I'm waving to goodbye to all the bad things that have happened and I'm starting a new life thousands of miles away.  

And I can't fucking wait. 

xXx




Thursday, 4 October 2018

Travel FOMO


Hey fellow nomads,

Greetings from Barcelona

Today is my last day in Spain before I head over to Budapest, my flight leaves at 4pm so I've got a few more hours to myself before I head to the airport. Part of what I love about travel is that I get to be left the fuck alone when I want which, due to my unrelenting aversion to people, I'm really on board with. Sure I love meeting new people when I'm on the road, some of which I still talk to regularly despite not having actually seen them for over a year, but overall, I really do prefer being by myself.


What I've noticed through joining multiple travel Facebook groups, some of which I've been forced to leave due to my being severely irritated by other people's stupidity*, is that FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a huge issue within the travel community. People are convinced that, in order to actually succeed as a solo traveler, that they have to do something every second of every day, when they would never normally do so at home.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I tire very easy, and find it difficult to be constantly active throughout the day. I also enjoy simply exploring when I'm away which is why, unless I'm travelling with someone else, I tend to avoid any form of tour, event or pub crawl.

You accidentally end up on a stag do once and you're put off for life.

When I'm away I'm happy to sit and read or enjoy a coffee in the sunshine when I need to, but sometimes it can make me feel like I'm not making the most of my time away. What I've come to realise, however, is that it's pointless to try and cram every event or activity in my time away, if unrelenting exhaustion is going to prevent you from enjoying yourself. Yes, this may seem like a once in a lifetime trip, but the world isn't going anywhere. If you want to do something every second of every day, do it, but if you find yourself only being able to fit in a certain number of activities, then that's okay too.


I personally am one of the latter, so I'm off to hunt down some of the godly nectarines I had for breakfast yesterday and plan out my route to the airport. Check out my travel photos on my Instagram, and I'll post again when I'm in Budapest.


Enjoy your travels,

xXx

* Would you accept a stranger on a seemingly reputable website telling you that, in order for you to stay in their house, you had to share both a bed and showers? No, so why the fuck are you considering doing it while you're away? This my friends is natural selection at its finest.

I found my flights to Barcelona cheaply at www.skyscanner.com and my accommodation on www.hostelworld.com. I'm currently staying at hellobcnhostel.com

Find me on Instagram at @ThatNomadJess 

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Counting




For someone who hated maths so much in high school, I spend a lot of time counting. I've counted the hours I couldn't sleep, I've counted the calories I've eaten and burned off, I've counted the lbs I've lost, the Ibs I've gained and the Ibs I've yet to banish. I've counted money and debt, days and Instagram followers, minutes and days and blog views.

I came to this realisation on Friday night at a gig. I was at the Islington Memorial Hall listening to The Devil Makes Three and, instead of relaxing, dancing and enjoying myself, all I could think about was money. Even at that moment, I couldn't stop thinking about whether or not I'll have enough money to go to Canada.

Truth is, I don't really believe I deserve money. My parents supported me a lot financially growing up and they still do, but all this does is make me feel ashamed. Ashamed because, despite everything I've achieved, I still struggle with the most basic of tasks. Ashamed because of how much of that money I've spent on drinking, drugs and things that I believe I don't deserve because of how much I enjoy them despite the fact that I'm perfectly within my right to be happy.

Planner supplies, all of the planner supplies.

I'm fully aware that this is something I need to let go of, but it's also something I struggle to shake. Every day I'm blanketed by the belief that I don't deserve something. Don't deserve money, don't deserve happiness, don't deserve love, all because of the things that I"ve done and the person I've been. This all-consuming blame, shame and self-hatred clouds every aspect of my life and I don't know how to let it go. Don't know how to convince myself that deserve all of these things.

And I really don't know how to fix it

xXx

Friday, 14 September 2018

Review: Just by Jenny Morton Potts



Just by Jenny Morton Potts

Book tour alert

This week, I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Just by Jenny Morton Potts. As with Death before Dishonour by Kenny Hyman, it was unlike anything I've ever read before and, whilst a little OTT in some places (a broad statement from me I know) I still really enjoyed it.

It's not exactly the most classic plot line. The protagonist, a dentist named Lucienne, finds out her ex is dead whilst her son is in Libya doing something that vaguely involves clearing dead bodies off of a beach (although I'm sure there's a more pc term for that, that's what I'm sticking with). Whilst there her son falls for another doctor and, via an accidental pregnancy, a faked death and an illegal boat ride, everything vaguely turns out alright at the end.

Return to my part about it being a little over the top. However, the reason I enjoyed it had a lot less to do with the plot line and more to do with the book in itself.

First of all, it's short, and even though my concentration levels seem to be improving and the splitting is easing up a little, things that I can read quickly make me feel a lot better than those that take me a decade and a half to fight through. And, second of all, it's beautifully written.

I mean, stunningly written.

As a writer, I far more enjoy immersing myself in well constructed and description heavy pieces of shorter literature than fighting through something I don't find to be as well written for the sake of a better plot line. And, whilst the plot itself was more than a little bit far fetched and I had more than a couple WTF moments, the writing itself made up for it a million times over.




Overall, it's great if you like short and intense reads and beautiful writing. I just feel that the plotline could have been toned down a little, or that the book needed to be longer to give the reader more of an insight and explanation as to why events unfolded in the way that they did. Overall rating? 3.5 / 5

xXx

Just by Jenny Morton Potts can be purchased via amazon.co.uk and amazon.com 

Author info 



My info 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

The Scented Bones by Angelina Kerner







First of all, my blog schedule is pretty shocking atm, but I'm hoping to be able to write something longer than an Instagram post soon. While I've been waiting for my fingers linked up with my brain again, I've been taking part in some more book tours. The most recent being about The Scented Bones by Angelina Kerner. 

The first novel in The Svabodina Case Files series, The Scented Bones focuses on the work of Angel Svabodina, an anthropologist just starting out in her field. Embedding herself in a new case, the unexpected arrival, and subsequent disappearance, of an inhuman skeleton, leads Angel into a world of witches, werewolves and vampires. Trying to intricately assemble the thinly worn veil of secrets that surround her current case, she must place herself in the path of the royalty that controls it. 
A petrifyingly entertaining read, it's a must for fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series,



Excerpt 

I turned around in time to see a black-haired young man walk in, pulling off his black and yellow headphones. He stopped in front of me with a goofy grin on his face. His black bangs covered his brown eyes for a second before he pushed them back.
“You know? It’s hard finding this place,” he commented. “One would think there’d be arrows pointing to the Bones lab.”
“We don’t like visitors,” I said crankily.
“My name is Jack,” he introduced himself. “Jack Fadden. I’m here to apply for the job of assistant to the forensic anthropologist.”
A sinking feeling gripped at my heart. Melissa, my boss, had decided two assistants would be better than one, especially since she wanted to take more vacation time. She’d left me a list of candidates to interview, and I’d forgotten, thanks to the skeleton on the table. 
I sighed and found the folder with the list. Jack Fadden was indeed there. 
What type of an imbecile would wear jeans and a worn-out T-shirt for an interview? And why drop in at the end of the day on a Friday afternoon?
“Do you have a resume?” I asked as I tugged my own shoulder-length hair behind my ear.
“I have it here somewhere,” Jack replied and opened his backpack. “What’s your name, boss?” 
“Angel Svobodina,” I replied taking his resume from his hand, which he’d found surprisingly fast. 
“Nice name,” he laughed, “Angel, the forensic anthropologist. I guess you do allow people to get their halos.”
“I’m an angel with horns,” I replied.
“You’ve got a sense of humor!” Jack exclaimed. “Thank goodness. I need to be able to work with someone fun.”
“I’m sorry, but who’s interviewing whom?” I asked. 
It was really hard to keep my face neutral because the guy’s attitude was contagious with his easy-going manner.
Jack held his hands up. “Sorry. Proceed.”
Quickly, I scanned his resume, which didn’t look promising. He hadn’t declared a major, and, worse yet, according to the list of significant classes he’d taken, the only one that qualified was human physiology. Forensic anthropologists tended to deal more with the 206 bones of the human body, rather than the tissues and organs. 
I eyed him from the corner of my eyes and shook my head. I didn’t know how to proceed without hurting his feelings. Jack seemed to be holding his breath as I thought about how to let him down. It was like he knew he wasn’t going to get the job and looked sad. 
“I’m sorry . . .”
Jack’s expression changed. There was something more behind the sadness, but I wasn’t sure what it was, other than something dark.
“It looks like you don’t have enough experience. It’s a highly competitive field with limited open spots, and not for undeclared majors.”
“Harsh,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated, “but I don’t really know why you decided to apply for the position. What do you know about forensic anthropology?”
“I know this skeleton is missing some bones,” he replied, grinning.
I rolled my eyes. “Good guess. However, it’s not good enough. Good day, Jack Fadden.”
“Oh, come on,” he complained, “let me help with the body. At least, let me show you I know what I’m doing. I can’t kill the patient since they’re already dead.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Disrespectful much?”
“Please,” he said. Something flashed in his eyes, making me question my decision. “You’ve got nothing to lose.”

The Scented Bones will be released on September 28th and can be pre-ordered on Amazon  www.amazon.com/dp/B07DHZFBD4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_lCGfBbW5DZMZ1


Monday, 20 August 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Girl in the Storm


When I was at uni, I had two types of books on my shelves. The ones on my module reading lists, books I'd read but not necessarily enjoyed, and a hench ass pile of trashy favourites with appalling storylines.

One of these types of genres that I love so much is dystopian YA fiction. An odd one I know, but give me a series where an entire city has been wiped out by killer rain or a high school that's on lockdown because of a ridiculously specific virus that destroys the minds and bodies of anyone over the age of 18 and I'm there, which is why I signed up for this latest book tour.

The Girl in the Storm by Ceri A. Lowe focuses on the lives of a group of people living in the aftermath of a series of deadly storms. A percentage of people seemed to be living above ground, and a percentage below. I say seemed to be because there was one big, big flaw with this book.

I had no idea what was going on.

The Girl in the Storm is the second part of the Paradigm trilogy and, having not read the first one (as I didn't know it existed) I had no understanding of the plot. Obviously, I could pick up the bare bones of it such as the way governments were attempting to repopulate the earth, that families were being constructed and destroyed and that there were vastly different things going on above ground compared to below, but there was still a lot missing.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book, I really did, it was blissfully easy to read and something you'd definitely love if this genre is something you're into, but I really needed to have read the first book before I started in order to grasp a better idea of the plot.

Usually, if I don't understand or enjoy a book I won't bother with the rest of the series. It's like people who watch TV shows only to say "the first series isn't very good but it gets better." This just seems totally pointless to me. I'm a busy woman, I've got shit to do and I have no time for wasting what energy I do have reading or watching something I don't enjoy. In this instance, however, I do plan on picking up the first book in the series, The Rising Storm, before coming back to this book. I really enjoyed what I could piece together, I'd just prefer to have been a little more clued in.

All in all a really good book, and a perfect choice for fans of the Hunger Games or Maze Runner series. 6/10 without having read the first book, but I'm sure it'll have a higher when I come back to it.

Pick up The Girl in the Storm on Amazon.

xXx

Sunday, 12 August 2018

My Imaginary Friend


 


One of the problems with BPD is that my brain never shuts up, not really. I'm always focusing and obsessing about something, be it a hobby or a thought or a book or a film. I'm constantly obsessing and it's exhausting.

The big problem with these obsessions is that they don't always exist, not really. I've always wanted to be loved, more than anything. As a teenager, I used to watch One Tree Hill and sob and sob and sob because I wanted so badly to find a relationship like the ones they pictured on the show. I craved for someone to hold me, to want me, to love me. I needed it more than I could ever possibly describe but, in true BPD fashion, I thought it was impossible, so I pretended it didn't exist.

Ironically, that feeling is still there, but it's also accompanied by a refusal to get romantically close to people. I joke about my commitment phobia but it really is a big part of my life. BPD is characterised by a fear of abandonment, so I've always refused to let myself get close to people in case they leave. When you have someone close to you, and you get used to them being there, the gap they leave when they do go is far far more painful to live with than the pain of being alone. 

My recent forage into dating was pointless, really really pointless. I knew it was destined to fail from the start. For one thing, he was separated (aka still married and clearly hung up on her) and he also had two kids. I have nothing against people who've reproduced, but I'm not willing to enter a child's life only to disappear on them when I leave again. It's simply not fair.

Plus if I'm honest I really wasn't attracted to him.


My other impossible obsession is my weight, and the two go hand in hand. As much as I pretend to be happy with my body I would still trade every single part of my existence to be "thin". To reach the non-existent goal weight that I conjured up when I was 13 and never managed to reach. I've been close a couple of times, but even then I still wasn't happy.

If anything I was even more miserable but that's beside the point.

What the point is is that, even at the age of 26, I'm still convinced that the only way I will ever be loved is if I become thin. That I'm unlovable because of my weight. I think about food every second of every day and it's exhausting. I'm longing for something that doesn't exist, that never will exist, and for an impossible situation that I've made up in my head.

This is why it's time for me to leave again. It's time for me to really, truly be by myself.

Only 3 months to go.

xXx

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

REVIEW: If You Love Me I'm Yours, Lizzie Chantree




I won't lie, when I agreed to take part in this book tour, reviewing If You Love Me I'm Yours by Lizzie Chantree, I expected to hate it. I signed up last minute because I was between books and wanted something to do that felt vaguely productive. Downloading it onto my iPad, I started it this weekend with little to no expectations, thinking it would be nothing more than a smushy chick-lit that would make me roll my eyes so far back in my head they'd detach and get stuck somewhere beneath my eyebrows.

Oh, how wrong I was.

For the first time in a very long time, I connected with the character I was reading about. Maud is a cripplingly insecure school teacher with incredible artistic talent that she hides from the world as a result of her family's disapproval. She tries and tries to get them to understand her passion for art but it falls on deaf and discouraging, ears. To release her inner Georgia O'Keefe, she starts leaving paintings around her local town with the signature 'If you love me, I'm yours' scribbled on the bottom. She doesn't want anyone to see her art, but she doesn't want it to go unnoticed either.

As a child and teenager, I was always artistic. Making things, drawing things, burning things - I did everything I could to unleash the noise in my head, even if at times it wasn't very healthy (entire sketchbook based on my eating disorder anyone?). This all ended when I turned 19 and my friend told me I couldn't draw. I still had bursts of creativity, but I stopped drawing, and I've barely picked up a pencil since.

The idea of having to hide what you're passionate about because of fear of rejection, not to mention the way she feels about her appearance and those around her, struck a chord with me that I never expected. The gorgeous guy she's into and who flirts back? Clearly not interested. The belief that if someone hits on her they must be doing so as a joke? As a teenager, I often assumed that anyone who spoke to me was mid-way through a game of "Pull the Pig". Teasing me, mocking me and playing a joke at the expense of my self-esteem.

Of course, it all works okay in the end. Her career soars, she connects with her parents and (obviously) gets the guy. All things that would normally have me scoffing in disgust, but instead, I found myself tearing up.

I'm not going to say that I burst into sobs thinking that just because this one character in a work of fiction found love and success it automatically means I will too, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Even at the end, her constant worry about her love life and self-deprecation was a MASSIVE pain in the balls. Reading it was like reading my thoughts in book form and made me realise how irritating, and wrong, my thinking process really is.

The other books I've read have been quite diverse. I've discovered complete surprises, unknown genres, and things that I'd happily forget I'd ever read. As with Without a Hitch, this is great for someone who loves a bit of chick-lit, but, luckily, it has far more depth. 9/10

xXx

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Jessica, you're being a fucktard




I'm in a situation at the moment that's draining my confidence faster than cum leaving a virgin's penis when he first ejaculates on his high school girlfriend. I'm crying in the middle of the day, drowning in anxiety and altogether I'm just fucking miserable.

It's shit.

Thing is, I'm ALLOWING this bs to happen. I'm sitting back and accepting the world making me feel like this when, in reality, I shouldn't be. If I can put a rapist in prison, I can mother fucking well stand up for my cunting self. I'm so so done with feeling like this.

When it comes to self-confidence, my high score has never been great. Hours spent as a teenager screeching at my reflection begging for an answer to why I was so ugly, carving the word fat into my arm, getting cunted and fucking random strangers in exchange for a shred of recognition that would up my esteem nothing more than a hair. It's not something I'm used to having but now I've had it, I miss it.

I don't remember the last time I felt so insecure. Of all the amazing things I've done this one has me on the tip of relapse central. I even had some fun abusing laxatives yesterday, thankfully I managed to avoid shitting myself but the risk was there.

My point is, I'm not doing this anymore, I refuse to do this. I'm an amazing woman who has conquered so much, fuck off am I going to let this shit beat me.

Stay tuned.

xXx 

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Why I'm Always Tired




I went on a couple of dates with a guy recently who kept commenting on the fact that I'm always tired, and he's right, I am always tired. If I'm yawning in your face or looking dozy af in front of you it's not because I'm bored (well it sometimes is) but because I'm exhausted, but I swear I have very good reasons.

My meds 

Whilst there are few connections between the medication I take and tiredness, the combination of the two drives me balls deep into exhaustion 24 hours a day. I take a lot of very strong medication, I take it regularly, and it drains the life out of me like a mother bitch, but this really isn't something I can control. I've been on far stronger medication in the past that made it even worse (16 hours of sleep a day is pretty impressive) but I'd choose to be able to semi-function as a member of society over tiredness every day of the week.


Pain

Thanks to my dad's side of the family, I have very severe hypermobility. This coupled with scoliosis and a trapped nerve to the left of my lower back, means I spend a lot of my time in extreme pain. This not only means that, when I do sleep, I don't sleep well because lying on my side hurts my joints, but also that being in pain all the time is really fucking draining. I take regular painkillers and bath myself in pain-killing gel when it gets really bad but, understandably, my doctor doesn't want to prescribe me anything stronger. Unfortunately, I just have to suck it up and get on with things.

BPD

You know how slow your laptop runs when you have 85 million tabs open at once? That's how my brain works. Constantly jumping from one emotion to the other means my brain is constantly working on overdrive and it sucks the life out of me. One of the classic symptoms of depression is not being able to get out of bed in the mornings, while a classic symptom of having BPD is having an emotional compass that runs a mile a minute. Sometimes it calms down enabling me to feel relatively normal, and sometimes I have to sleep for 24 hours in a row. No amount of medication is going to fix this, so I just have to let it live.

So really, as you can see, being tired is one of the few things in life that really isn't my fault.

Honest.

xXx



Sunday, 22 July 2018

Foreign settings – pitfalls to avoid, Guest Post by Katharine Johnson




This will be the third book tour I'm taking part in, and I'm still really enjoying them. Instead of writing my own review, I've been sent a guest post by Kathrine Johnson, author of The Secret. Here's what she had to say about writing about different countries.

***


Foreign settings – pitfalls to avoid

As a reader, I’m often drawn to books set in other countries. I love to feel transported somewhere different, whether it’s revisiting a place I’ve been to or discovering more about one I haven’t.
In some ways having an exotic location can be a gift for the writer. 
But when I decided to set two of my books in Italy I found it also presented a number of challenges. 

Make sure it’s accurate
How realistically can you depict a country that’s not your own? I worried about this quite a lot as I’m not Italian so what qualified me to write about it? 
On the other hand, I think sometimes it helps to be an outsider because you observe things in a different way, noticing things that people who are used to their surroundings might not notice. Also, I love history and it was the wartime history of Tuscany that drew me to writing The Secret, sparked by conversations I had with locals but backed up by a lot of reading.
If you’re going to mention real places you need to make sure readers who know these well won’t be able to catch you out on things like how long it takes to walk from the station to the cathedral or what scenery you pass on your way from the airport. If you haven’t been or can’t remember it’s worth asking in an online group.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Italy and have had a home in the Lucca province for 15 years. We spend as much time there as we can and always speak Italian with our neighbours. 
For me, it helped that The Silence and The Secret which has just been published (June 2018) are both set in a fictional village. While Santa Zita isn’t based on any single real location it’s inspired by many of the mountain villages close to my home. I’ve taken lots of photos and videos when exploring and made notes to help me with descriptions later for my fictional village.
But even then you have to be careful to remember where things are – you can’t have buildings moving about. I sketched a map of the village with the bar, restaurant, school, church, different characters’ homes and Villa Leonida so I could remember where they were.
What if you haven’t been to the country? I’ve read books written by people who’ve never been to the location they write about or who’ve only been for a short holiday but are nonetheless totally convincing. I think this is partly because of the strength of the story but must also be due to research. We’re very lucky these days to be able to do so much research online. Watching videos and old film clips can also be very helpful.

Too much description
But how much description should you include? How do you bring the setting alive without making the story sound like a guidebook? I’m sure there are lots of different views on this and it’s impossible to please everyone. People read for different reasons – some buy a book because of its location whereas others are more interested in the story and are less interested in where it’s set.
My feeling is that a book that’s marketed for its setting can carry a bit more description than usual but the really hard thing is making it feel incidental. An early draft of the opening for The Secret which I had critiqued had too much exposition so I’ve cut this down as much as I could and tried to convey the setting in a few words here and there to anchor a scene rather than long passages which take people out of the story.

Get the language right
We’ve probably all winced at a wrongly spelled word or inaccurate foreign phrase in a novel. Apart from looking unprofessional, it undermines the reader’s confidence in the storyteller. If you don’t know a native speaker to check your language you’re sure to find one in an online writers or readers group. 
But how many foreign words should you include? This is another really hard one because if you use too much it can just look like you’re showing off and put off readers who don’t have time to look up a translation. Some readers would also feel patronized if translations were given for words they consider obvious so it’s worth testing these out on friends. I decided to use foreign words such as ‘piazza’ and ‘gelateria’ which are easily understood and give a sense of place but keep the Italian speech to a minimum.
Something I find it quite odd as a reader is when a character delivers a speech in perfect English and ends with si? As though they wouldn’t know such a basic word as ‘yes’.
And then there’s the foreign accent – do you need it? Again people will have different opinions but as a reader, I don’t generally like accents to be written down – I’d rather imagine them myself. While an Italian speakinga likea thees might work in a funny book or scene, it can sound a bit ridiculous or even offensive in a more serious story which is why I decided against using accents in my books.

Avoiding cultural clich├ęs 
Another difficult line to tread – you want to make your book feel real and you want to give your readers a flavour of the country but without resorting to stereotypes, which might even appear racist. 
So there are dozens of potential hazards to avoid when writing about another country but I’ve really enjoyed writing about the secrets of Villa Leonida and I hope people enjoy reading about them. 



***
You can find Katherine and her books here: 

Website/blog Katy’s Writing Coffee Shop  katyjohnsonblog.wordpress.com
Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings mybook.to/LiesMM

xXx

Saturday, 21 July 2018

I'm sorry, it seems I've lost my hard on




Fight Club is one of those films that everyone watches once and then feels the need to inexplicably quote for the rest of time, myself included. Watching Edward Norton and Brad Pitt have at it in a display of early noughties masculine despair is one of my favorite hobbies, particularly when you throw in the abandonment issue infested/suicidal train wreck female lead. It makes people happy to feel like they're fighting against Chuck Palahniuk's self-penned establishment, and so it remains the kind of film that will never go out of style.

I even have a quote from the book tattooed on my ribs, how's that for dedication.

Now, this post isn't a review of what is arguably one of Brad Pitt's finest pieces of work, despite the two obvious flaws it is undeniably a great film (Meatloaf where's a shirt when the third rule of Fight Club is no shirts and no shoes and you can die from insomnia.) Instead, it's a conversation about one of its more iconic quotes, mostly because people like to feel scandalous every once in a while.

I know I'm self-bashing harder than a teenager with a Victoria Secret catalog here, so calm your tits with the eye-rolling and the claims of hypocrisy for a moment.

The line is 'self-improvement is masturbation" which, by default, in my opinion, means that self-deprecation is a massive boner killer, and this is what's on my mind today.

We all have insecurities, in the same way, we all breathe, its part of how being human works, but nothing is cringing me out more atm than people creaming their pants over someone else's success by putting themselves down. "Oh you did this amazing thing today when all I did was XYZ" or "Oh my God I wish I had a figure like yours." Seriously, people, you're making my clit shrink.

The thing with these kinds of posts is that, aside from being as common on social media as a bottle blonde in Primark, they are so fucking embarrassing. What exactly are these posters expecting to happen? That they'll be miraculously thrown a compliment that they can jizz over for years to come? Or that they'll magically transform into the person who's ass they're sucking and therefore all their cringe-worthy comments will become irrelevant. Everyone has issues, stop acting like you're special and play along like everyone else, you're giving me frown lines.

Perhaps it's time for more coffee...
xXx

Monday, 16 July 2018

Things to do in... Nottingham


Towards the end of the month, I'd planned to take a few days out to travel around central Europe. Switzerland, Berlin, Barcelona. Eager to grab my passport and go, I had it all organized but was unfortunately unable to get the time off of work.

To ease my wanderlust, I've been planning a few staycations instead. This weekend I had an amazing time celebrating pride in Bristol, and next up I plan on spending a few days in Nottingham. Here's what I plan on getting up to while I'm away.

Travel

Lately, I've been traveling primarily by coach. It's inexpensive, easy and usually involves far less thinking than the great British rail system. To find my journeys I've been using GoEuro which has been incredibly helpful. Simply type in your location and destination into their website or app, find the dates you want to visit and away you go.

Sleep

When I travel I tend to stay in hostels. I find you meet the most interesting people there and, providing you don't care about crashing in a bunk bed, they're pretty good places to sleep. I've been working with Pebble Magazine who offer great information on eco friendly things to do in their city guides.  It was on their site that I stumbled across Igloo. Slightly different from your traditional hostel, it gives you opportunity to spend the night in your very own annex or pod, so it's perfect if don't want to share a room with a group of strangers.

Eat

After a friend at worked turned vegan, I've been eager to expand my diet to make it more plant-based. I'm not saying a switch to veganism is on the cards, but I'd like to try out a few recipes that are 100% animal-friendly.

Another hot tip from Pebble Magazine, I stumbled across the menu for Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery and I must say I'm intrigued. With a great range of vegan options available including scrambled tofu in place of traditional scrambled eggs and vegan lunch specials, I'll definitely be checking it out when I visit.

Drink

Always a fan of a good drink, I'm far happier sat in a pub sipping a pint of ale than in anywhere with decibels loud enough to break the sound barrier. Don't get me wrong, girl loves a good dance, but I need my down time too.

Within the Pebbles City guide to Nottingham, I've found a couple of pubs I'd really like to check out. One is Junkyard,  a place that claims to combine laid-back Californian vibes with craft beer which I am totally here for, and the other Jamcafe, which seems to blend my love of IPA with live music once a week during their Wednesday open mic night, which I'd also love to try out.

I was pretty heartbroken when I couldn't travel to Europe this summer, but by planning a few staycations, I'm getting the time away that my inner nomad so desperately needs. Next stop, Notts!

xXx

Friday, 6 July 2018

Somebody that I used to know



When I'm happy, I write, when I'm unhappy, I write and when there are enough thoughts going through my mind to confuse C.S. Lewis, I mother fucking write.

Today is the latter.

Wounds have been opening lately. I found a piece of information out about my ex last weekend that made ZERO difference to our break up but still made me think of him. My best friend ran into her ex and a guy I thought I was in love with when I was 18 announced on Facebook today that he'd had a baby.

My old fuck buddy, who I once had anal sex with under a lamp post in the back of my Ford Fiesta, had a baby.

It freaked me the fuck out.

When I messaged a mutual friend explaining how my brain was imploding he was, understandably, a tad confused. He couldn't work out why I was so thrown by someone I haven't had a conversation with since I was 19 reproducing, couldn't understand why I gave a fuck.

And he's right, I shouldn't give a fuck. There really is no need for me to feel anything towards this event. We don't talk anymore, it's in the past, we've both moved on.

The thing is that, even if you don't love someone anymore, you have loved them once, and that never goes away. Loving someone isn't a single thought, you imagine yourself together, have hopes for your future and believe that that person will always be in your life. When they leave your life and then move on with their own, it burns.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want this guy in my life anymore. He wasn't a good guy. From telling me during sex that I shouldn't tell my best friend we'd hooked up to pretending that he'd only messaged me because he'd skimmed through his phone and accidentally landed on my name. He was vile to me, and we could never have been together. But that doesn't mean I didn't love him at the time, didn't want him at the time, didn't need him at the time.

This situation is slightly different in that the person led me to the first person I ever really, really, fell in love with. He was the key to so much pain that I'm still healing from. But in essence, it's still the same. They've moved on, their lives have moved on, and me? I'm still alone.

I guess that's what's hurting the most.

xXx

In The Wake - Book tour review



My new favourite way of snagging free shit, I recently took part in another book tour, this time going balls deep in In the Wake by Helen Trevorrow.

A 'deliciously dark and beautifully written' thriller, In the Wake is written from the perspective of a female protagonist named Kay*. With a few snippets of backstory involving her late mother, the present day novel begins upon the discovery of a dead body at the location of a PR event.

After the discovery, Kay ends up balls deep in the situation, mysteriously knowing the deceased, having a drunk father who was meant to be in charge of security, and for some reason losing her job despite the only thing I felt she could even possibly be blamed for is turning up shit faced to her girlfriends book launch. A lot of hate is thrown around to certain male characters which I still don't understand and she ends up having an affair with a police officer - who for some reason proceeds to steal her DNA from a hairbrush. 

Eventually, we get an explanation of a) why she knew the deceased and b) why she hated him. I won't give it away but it rang pretty close to home and struck my 'well you should have gone to the fucking police' nerve. One wedding, a severed ear and the discovery of a missing nurse later, and all our questions are answered. There's a lot going on, but we get there. 

As a whole, it's a good book, a really good book. There's a great plot line, semi-likeable characters and a backstory that doesn't suck the life out of it quicker than I can down a round of jaeger bombs. My only problem was the pace and strength that makes it so good doesn't run continuously throughout the novel and some parts seem to get lost in names, details, back stories and emotions. Its a strong and dark piece that I'm glad I read and will definitely be passing on to someone else, but my greedy ass wanted more. 

Not being something I'd pick up again, I'd give it a solid 7/10. A good choice for feminist thriller lovers, I'd definitly recommend it if you're The Girl on the Train was your jam. 

xXx

*According to Dan Dalton, author of Johnny Ruin

Monday, 2 July 2018

Pukka Tea Review and Giveaway




One of the reason's I love what I do other than I get to spend my entire life doing what makes me euphorically happy, is that I occasionally get free shit. Books, competitions, discounts, affiliate links etc, all contribute to the many many reasons I love my job. Most recently, without any memory of doing so, I entered and won a competition through Pebble Magazine and was sent a box of goodies from Pukka tea - and they're pretty fucking lush.

In a box that appeared mysteriously on my kitchen counter, Pukka was kind enough to send me a box of their Tumeric Active and Lean Matcha Green tea, along with a Green Collection selection box containing Supreme Matcha, Clean Matcha, Mint Matcha, Ginseng Matcha and Wild Berry, as well as a couple of extras.

I won't lie, anything that even hints any form of detoxing makes me baulk a little. Horrifying memories of stomach spasms, chronic bloating and shitting myself mean that anything that even suggests that it could clear out my system sends me running in the opposite direction of the kettle faster than you can say "black no sugar", but I'm trying to be a little less cynical and so thought I'd give this one a chance. 




I've never tried Matcha tea until now. A friend at work drinks it but, owing to some very questionable memories from my youth involving Apple Sourz, I tend to avoid consuming green liquids that don't come in smoothie form. But, never a quitter, I decided that I needed to overcome this aversion and give it a go.


There are a number of ways to drink matcha, including in latte form, but the idea of green liquids and milk seemed like something Dr Seuss would write about so I gave it a miss. Pukka advise infusing it in freshly boiled water for 15 minutes so that's what I did, handing a cup to my landlady in the process. 

First off, it doesn't really smell of anything. I'm used to herbal teas smelling like sugar-filled squash on crack so this was a new one. 15 minutes is also a bit of an awkward time to wait so I settled on ten while I jumped in the shower.

Verdict? Doesn't really taste of anything, but then I prefer my drinks quite strong. It's not bad, it has a slight fenelly taste that I like, other than that it's a bit underwhelming. It's something I'll most likely share around at work, or keep for when I've pumped my body full of enough coffee to put Starbucks out of business.

Now, that's not to say that you won't love it, and another benefit of my job is that I get to run giveaways. Pukka also sent me a travel mug that I won't use owing to my tendency to break EVERYTHING, so I'm going to send it your way, along with a few sachets of tea.

I had intended to give away a full box, but Bonnie decided it needed to be moved and it's now got dog tooth marks in it.

Simply enter by using the Rafflecopter below and following me on Twitter. The giveaway will run until midnight Sunday and I'll announce the winner next week. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


xXx

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Without a Hitch




Ironically, I read Without a Hitch by Bettina Hunt on the day of the Royal wedding. Always one for a bit of trashy chick, lit I devoured it in one sitting while sunbathing through a window on my friend's bed.

The general plot revolves around three women who are getting married. One of them is a stereotypical career woman, one is portrayed as a bit of a brat and one has a baby and a fiance that her mother can't stand. So far, not much out of the ordinary.

Now, I love a chick lit, but a chick lit with a storyline. I don't care if it's running off to Vegas and outing a famous heartthrob or reading a million emails back and forth from HR rep and a man babysitting a Great Dane, I adore it.

The problem with the storylines in this book is that they weren't substantial enough for me to get involved in. Yes, we get that the three women are getting married, and have three very different lives, but that's it. I wanted to know more. There is a thinly veiled attempt at constructing a meaty plotline, but nothing overly enticing.  There were suggestions, but nothing interesting enough to get me hooked.

Bride number one was so stereotypical it hurt and did nothing to remind people that being a bride doesn't necessarily make you a diva.  The second was better, but once again cliche (I'm sorry but there needs to be a law banning books that go for the 'follow your heart or your head' bs, it's over). The third was my favourite, and an entire novel could have been written around her, but instead, we got three half stories that are loosely joined together by a wedding chat room.

As a whole, the book is good, and a perfect beach read for when you want to flick through a few pages in the sun. The thing is, it's been done, a hundred times over. When you write chick lit, you need to stretch further than the traditional gets-everything-she-wants bride or the career woman torn between her heart and her head. The final couple has slightly more depth, but one out of three does not a great book make. Not something I'd pick up again, but not terrible either.

xXx

Monday, 18 June 2018

Thrive, final thoughts


The problem with my reviewing the Thrive app was that I always knew it wasn't 100% going to work for me. It's all well and good me road testing an app designed to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, but I don't have anxiety or depression. Instead, I have a cuntish monster living between my ears that I equally adore and want to rip out with a set of pliers, so it was always going to be difficult for me to give an accurate review. 

As a relaxation app, it's pretty good. Logging your emotions is a tried and tested way of keeping track of your mood, and if you've got a few minutes to spare taking some time out to do a breathing exercise or two never hurt anyone. Based on these factors, it's one of the best I've tried and would have been very useful when I was younger and desperately trying to show my doctors/nurses/therapists/counsellors etc. how quickly my moods were changing. 

Thing is, for me, that's kind of where it ended. Working 9-5, I don't really have the time to step out of my office to lie on the floor and clench my toes on command, and every 'relaxation' method the app provided needed me to give my phone my undivided attention, which is incredibly impractical. What clinched it for me as a no-go, however, was the constant reminder of things I'd previously felt shit about everytime I tried to track my mood. I completely understand the thought process, after all, it's a lot easier to select triggers from a list than type them out each day, but do I want to be reminded of how much I hated my body last week when I'm having a good day? Do I fuck. 

Overall, I won't be using the app on a daily basis, although I will be keeping it on my phone for when I want to take time out to relax. I'd maybe recommend it to someone who has only just begun to identify the triggers of their depression or anxiety, but Thrive unfortunately isn't the app for me. 

xXx

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Dishonour, Dishonour on you, Dishonour on your cow! ***REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY***



I've been taking part in a couple of blog tours lately, and it's been really fun. Basically, it appeals to all the things I love, reading, writing, and free shit.

The first book I got sent was Death Before Dishonour, by Kenny Hyman, which I really enjoyed. It started off in two parts which flip back and forth. The first is a reflective tale of a young American family raising their two sons in Japan, while the follows the brothers in the present day.

Within the first half, the brothers are enrolled in a martial arts school in an attempt to combat the elder's shyness, which leads them to a remote Japanese community from where the art they're practising was founded. The story describes their being raised by the community upon the death of their parents until they are forced to leave.

The second half of the story recounts the two brother's experiences working as assassins and dealing with the moral and emotional questions this raises. Trying to justify their actions and form relationships with people outside of their community who know nothing about their real lives. Eventually, the timelines run simultaneously and we see the two men attempt to live as killers with a deep set allegiance and emotional ties to those that raised them, and average members of society.

This book was completely alien to me, I've never read anything like it before, but I surprised myself and really enjoyed it. It's incredibly detailed, and as someone who knows fuck all about any form of martial arts, the description allowed me to visualise the fighting with no prior knowledge of what the attacks may look like. I didn't understand all of the words, but I knew what was going on. The quick pace of the present day text flies perfectly alongside the intense retelling of each assassination, while the edge of softness and serenity expertly matches the retelling of their childhood.

Like everything, it's not perfect. The author's description of women is eye-rollingly cliche at times, lots of light reflecting off of tumbling hair, but this is just something that is happening in literature at the moment. He also refers to someone's vagina as their 'sex', which made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I get that combining erotica with Japanese history and murder may be tricky, but just use the word vagina. Finally, there are no police involved until the very end which confused me a tad. If you keep murdering people, surely someone is eventually going to notice?

Overall I thought it was a really good book and  I'm happy I picked up. I doubt it'll be something I read again, but I enjoyed it.

I have an eCopy of the book to give away, so if you'd like to give it a read simply fill in the Rafflecopter below and either follow me on Twitter or comment on this post (or both). The giveaway closes at 12pm GMT on Friday, June 8th, and I'll be contacting the winner on Saturday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading.

xXx

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