The random rambler strikes again #fibromyalgia
Lately I feel this rotating bubble of energy inside. Filled with possibility. I want to say I can to everything instead of I can’t. I can’t implies weakness; my body maybe weak but my aspiration to become a successful author is strong. It’s ironic that at this point in time my balance, walking, neck pain, headache, fibromyaligia strikes so haphazardly that embarking on anything is a risk…but I don’t care. I’m taking my chances…and a cocktail of painkillers. I know the side effects of all my different tablets but I’m fifty two this year, ridiculously healthy other than my spine’s crumbling like Flake, so I need to embrace life now. God. Yes. Take the drugs. I need to live my best life now. Just typing these words evokes a thrill…a flicker of a future beyond my four walls.
Like last Saturday was Book Club. The consensus was, I should stay put the day before, the day of, the day after. I couldn’t. This restlessness that has a hold of me had me heading to the local tanning shop. For the first time in thirty years the buzz of bed three flashing on, heating my skin, warming my bones, browning the pale skin of my wasted muscles was medicinal. I can’t describe how peaceful and content I felt for five minutes. My son bought me a course and I’ve been three times now; skin cancer is the least of my worries. For a while I was in this vortex of negativity; the sunbed is a form of self care. Something I need a lot more of. I’m off to the House of Lords on Tuesday, to a reception for Myelopathy.org the charity supporting my condition. So that day I’m getting my nails done, it’s a luxury, but essential to my well being. It’s going to be a tough day travelling to Westminster, standing around, turning my head to talk to people, getting home but I need to be with others with my condition, I’ve not met anyone else like me todate. I’m excited to meet those that had the determination to create first the facebook group myelopathy.support then the charity. It goes without saying I hope there is champagne and canapies.
Book club was great fun. It’s very sociable; nibbles, dinner, alcohol, pudding, Jeffrey Archer. I love it. I’ve made new friends, there’s catching up with old buddies, everyone is so considerate of my condition, the book chit chat is topical and indepth. The charity https://myelopathy.org/ is supported by the group; I deposited £18 yesterday.
Once Random Attachment takes off a little more I’ll be putting a percentage toward Myelopathy.org. Once I cover the printing cost of paperbacks, paid Amazon their share, there is hardly anything to put toward promotions. I’m trying giveaways in return for a review should the person enjoy the book, Instragram promotions, Random Attachment merchandise for photos. Published authors tell you it’s near impossible to self promote, you need professionals and I agree but I’m not in that financial position. It’s fun though…coming up with mad ideas, arranging random items for a photo. I think at the beginning I exhausted myself, I’ve taken a step back. That’s why I haven’t blogged or vlogged for a while. I have to avoid dips in my energy level as negativity will creep in. Inside all of us is a pocket of self-doubt, helplessness, anxiety, anger…having a long term illness with chronic pain my pocket balloons with negative emotion if I’m tired or rundown so I must take a steady pace. So, sprawled on my soft, pink sofa I binged watched The Crown. It never appealed to me on TV but during Easter Kitty and I came upon it after procrastinating over Netflix and Now programmes. I’m so happy we did; it was addictive whilst being relaxing and a change from our American teen dramas.
Anyways the Sunday after Book Club I had a taste for more adventure. I can’t just go anywhere. The longer I’m on London transport the more my neck will jerk. The further I walk to a location the tireder my limbs will get. Together this leads to pain, immobility and my enjoying the event less. So we trained it to nearby Harrow, to an Italian coffee shop that’s more a cafe. It was highly rated on Trip Advisor and rightly so because the atmosphere was vibrant, the choice of food was varied from a full English to lasagna to cake. Kitty had a vegan breaky and I had the most delicious cheesecake. The average person probably doesn’t give a passing thought to going for coffee. That’s how different my life is…my flare ups are not fibromyaligia or myelopathy…these conditions are my norm, my everyday life…my flare ups reduce my symptoms: a burst of energy, remission of pain, a steadiness on my feet. Once, I too ran around the city from coffee shop to wine bar to brasserie. Popping off to Oxford Street, going to the theatre, clubbing in the West End. I count myself lucky I experienced that. I’m glad I was unaware of my congenital defects. That I’ve paraglided, abseiled, danced the eighties away, birthed four beautiful babies who make every day brighter for me.
My ‘hold onto the seat of your pants’ life reduced to a ‘slippers in front of the fire life’ and the carer became the cared for. I felt like I was lost in space but actually I was an astronaunt in hypersleep because I woke up with an idea that I could be an author…that I had another life yet to live. So it’s a great high when I get positive feedback. https://www.instagram.com/p/BwnQQeTnPtp/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=6l7axdn0aghk&fbclid=IwAR2D_rM4mGI4MlOEK0jsFcn5FVJY_2nGbhfEjnhFOBRjNu3WvP05NgUpN50
My favourite book of 2019 so far is A Curse So Dark and Cruel, a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I knew it would be hard to follow and it was tough reading my book club book Kane and Abel. I read it in my teens and couldn’t get enough of Jeffrey Archer material until his court case. Back then, before social media, authors were as enigmatic as popstars, so it wasn’t often you heard their dirty laundry. Also I found him a bit pompos and up himself so rereading Kane and Abel, although it’s a simple rich man, poor man tale, was pants. However I did come across some jems recently: the endearing Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine who like Mia from RA has serious mother issues and two YA sure things by the fantastically named Rainbow Rowell: Fan Girl and Eleanor and Park.
Music wise my song of the week is Lil Nas’s Old Town Road; both versions, his and the collaboration with Billy Rae Cyrus. Where do I get this bare chilled music from? Spotify and my son Tommy who is constantly dropping me links of new music. I don’t like all rap or all Emo, it’s got to have a distinctive voice and a killer corous.
Not only have I not blogged in ages I haven’t vlogged so I’m hitting it hard today.
Realistically I know I’m not going to be an overnight writing sensation but I don’t need a miracle I need for readers who like RA, to star it on Amazon, mention it on Instagram and copy by copy my identity as a writer will be validated. So if you love YA and you’re considering your next purchase take a chance on Random Attachment. It’s a simple romantic thriller, nothing highbrow, nothing fantastical or magical but I’m proud of it. I think it holds its own among other YA thrillers. It would be lovely if you subscribed to my channel or followed me on instagram…slowly I’m building up my numbers. Even if you don’t do any of this thank you for reading my post.
Today is my daughter’s birthday. She’s in Brugge with her boyfriend. My other daughter’s at uni, first year. My novels and blogs are mechanisms that keep them in my heart.
I was horribly unwell when I first started writing. What little energy I had I spent chatting to my four children. Kitty and I would get so excited about the weekly episode of #vampirediaries. We’d try to find films with a baddie that when faced with a dilemma would do the right thing like Damon. There are two films that were flops, but I loved them, purely because the male protagonist is beautifully, sexily evil; The Guest and No One Lives. Kitty and I would come up with scenarios for boys/girls of this ilk. This led us to a scenario where an assassin steals an identity and comes into contact with a damaged teen girl. This premise got forgotten for a while, mainly because I was so unwell. After my second operation, feeling regenerated our concept reignited and my other daughter Gerty came up with a title ‘The Rebirth of Henry Whittle.”
The following morning I wrote all day. Then the next and the next and so on. It was addictive. I was quite weak and housebound so the characters became totally real to me. I loved them. The girls critiqued, proof read, laughed at me a lot! I updated. We came up with a pen name Gertrude T Kitty (my girls’ nicknames and T because it sounded good). Then off went the first three chapters to literary agents. I struggled with that. I’m too old and too unwell to be anyone but myself or to sell myself. Luckily there was a lot of interest in the premise and requests for the full manuscript. I had lots of ‘we liked it but didn’t love it’ or it’s not one for us but that’s subjective’. I also had two offers of representation and an American publishing house that were considering it. I went with an agent I immediately felt comfortable with. Sadly it did not work out. But I learnt so much, from her and from the response of editors at publishing houses. I took a break then decided to go it alone. No having to compromise.
Readers for me are incredibly important. An unread book means I’m not an author. Yes I had the joy of writing it and sharing it with my daughters but it’s about identity. I’ve a degenerative spine condition; there is so much I can’t do but I can write. I can Twitter. I can blog/vlog and endeavour to connect my book with readers. Readers are magic because they sprinkle fairly dust and they’re with your characters; turning each page, making them real.
My book is an invitation to connect with new people, of all ages, all around the world. I won’t feel awkward or have nothing to say because we’ll have Random Attachment in common. Yes, lots of folk will tell me how wrong I’ve got it, but honestly it won’t upset me. I’m a newbie, a wildcard; I am going to make mistakes. I’m a different generation to my readership so I’ll be out of touch; sometimes say the wrong thing. I’m actually my teenage self again, trying to find a place to fit in, unsure of myself, a bit fragile at times.
My female protagonists are not perfect. Nobody is. We are all flawed and talented in some way but that’s what makes us special and unique. I want girls to read my books then look in the mirror and know they are beautiful. There’s always those that will make you feel less than you are. You might be unable to cut them from your life because you live with them. I think that’s why teen years can be the hardest because you’re trapped; at home or at school. I imagine that’s how a lot of battered wives feel. Unless you’re wealthy you can’t just walk away from a marriage.
My male protagonists will never follow a stereotype. I’ve never met the perfect, 6ft, chiseled cheekboned, 6 packed man. My husband is small and roundish; during our marriage he’s been a villain and a hero.
Today I woke up fresh and I showered. That alone caused me to crumble. I’ve had to lay still til Tramadol kicked in. I’m moving poorly, my body is sluggish and unresponsive. I’m weeing every 15 minutes. What’s lovely though is I have purpose. I’m eager to check things out on Twitter. Then Amazon to see if I’ve any further reviews (only have 4). I check KDP to see if I’ve sold a book. Then I read some blogs.
Having any illness can be lonely, even when you’re surrounded by those you love. Especially neurological diseases and mental illness because the unseen disabilities often have the least support. I yearn to be an author because I need to live a fulfilling life; it’s self help for someone who spends long periods at home. Life doesn’t stop for others when you’re disabled; friends work and socialise, your kids move out and rightly have lives of their own; so it’s up to me to make things work.
So when you read my book not only are you bringing my characters to life, you’re bringing me to life. Thank you for that. X
Us myelopathers live in a higgeldy piggeldy world. Nothing is straight forward, nothing is set in stone when it comes to our condition. It’s eight years ago this month that I had my first operation. When I think of the physical and mental battle I’ve had since then it’s amazing I’m still here never mind have written a book. I don’t say this lightly; my battle with myelopathy has been as exhausting mentally as it has physically. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been on the edge of madness. Connecting with others sufferers through http://www.myelopathy.org/support.html has helped me understand my condition as well as supported my mental health. Any long term illness with chronic pain can lead to depression, acting out of character, gambling, drinking, debt – blogging is a way of letting off steam whilst connecting with the myelopathy community.
My husband and children have been total rocks. They understand the condition well because they live it with me. They’ve seen me on my hands and knees trying to get from the sofa to the kitchen to put the kettle on because I want to do it for myself. They’ve seen me bent over double, breathing like I’m in labour because the pain is so acute it takes my breath away. I’ve spent the last seven years stumbling, swaying, knocking into, tripping over, falling onto a world that seems to be erratically spinning around me.
I’ve always been a glass half full person. When I couldn’t work, walk, sleep I wrote. I poured all my pain, frustration and despair into blogging and writing Young Adult romantic thrillers.
Two weeks ago I self published Random Attachment. For me this is a huge thing. A massive achievement. Also it’s my ray of hope. I won’t bore you with what I’ve lost, with what my condition has stripped me of because I don’t feel sorry for myself. But writing has enabled me to reinvent myself, to be Gertrude T Kitty, author. It’s taken the spotlight off my condition and has given me back some self esteem.
I don’t imagine my book will make multi million sales or I’ll have royalties into the thousands but whatever I have once Amazon take their cut I hope will support my writing and help YMCA West London, Centrepoint and http://www.myelopathy.org/ Up to now I have written for myself, now I am writing for others. I’ve worked this last fortnight on Twittering, Facebooking, vlogging, anything to get my book promoted. My husband has been photocopying and cutting up little adverts for Random Attachment. I’ve been very unwell and immobile during this time so have only left the house once but I did put it up in a newsagent and coffee shop in Pinner. I am up and feeling well today so have my photocopies and pins in my bag ready to pin it up whereever I legally can. I’m asking you, if you could print out the advert and pin it up on a board where you work, or where your children have clubs.
My lovely bookclubbers have bought my book. Thank you for supporting me. I’m dreading feedback because I know how high our expectations are when we critique some of the greats in literature…remember I’m a minnow.
So here I am before Christmas, with a book that is all the more precious to me because my daughters were so instrumental in supporting me during writing and getting it out there.
Yesterday I filmed my first vlog about my book. It took me five attempts because I was so waffly and repeatedly said ‘you know’, ‘so’, ‘erm’. But here is the link to it and the link to my Young Adult (unsuitable for under 14’s) romantic, thriller. I would love if you’d follow me on Twitter @gertrudetkitty. If you buy my book that would be wonderful…if you read it that would be even better and your critique would be the icing on the cake…oh and sharing it. It’s a lot, I know, because it’s hitting your purses, wallets and your time. God I hope the book’s not terrible after all this.
I feel 13 again; my emotions scattered leaves, lifted by the slightest breeze only to drift and fall, waiting for the next force of nature. My second novel, written in 2015, dormant in a flowery folder, its only contact a yellow duster, has been self published…on Amazon and my dream of reinventing myself has been realised.
Sales don’t matter; but they do matter. I’m hungry for reviews yet anxious. I want to actively promote my novel but I don’t want to bore people by harping on about it.
I have a dream that my books will be free to all. I’ve been the teen with no money, homeless, faceless at school, forgotten the day I walked out the school gates, at 16. My reality is I’m the adult with no money; paper, printer cartridges, photocopying need currency, so for now my books are sold.
What I want to know, like yesterday, is are my NA/YA books worth reading. Some of you will say yes, some no. I understand the definition of ‘subjective’ well so I don’t take criticism badly – Bitch!
I remain the outsider. Booky people mix with other bookies. Though #Random Attachment is fiction right now I’m Mia ‘always on the outskirts of friendship‘. I imagine that’s how homeless young adults may feel. Like the girl I saw from afar, sat outside one of Paddington Station’s exits, her bum on the cold, wet pavement, the rain soaking through her jeans and knickers, begging. No one stopped. No one cared. It’s like Chris Brown’s Beautiful People. Most of us only notice the shiny people. Ali Land who is startling talented, the author of the brilliant #GoodmeBadme, tweeted a few words of thanks about Crimemass, that was totally lovely and the polite thing to do but it cast a shadow over me. A 1980’s portal sucked me in, to when I was in love with John Taylor from Duran Duran and I was sleeping in a B&B while listening to the turbulent soundtrack of my parents’ marriage disintegrating. It made me realise that publishing is a tight knit group, you can’t bounce in among them singing ‘Here I am. Here’s my novel‘. I get it. You have to be invited to the table. You have to write a totally amazing novel. I may never achieve that. I see myself more the Nora Roberts of New/Young Adult. Perhaps even that is biggin myself up. I’m definitely one up on Mills & Boon but maybe not quite Courtney Summers. So you see I need reviews. I need to work out where my table is because right now, I’m in the queue for free school dinners, and I’m done with lumpy mash potato…although I am partial to chocolate sponge with chocolate custard.
So what do I want? To make enough money to buy stationery to keep me writing. I want to promote myelopathy. I want to support my family financially, not frivolously because my main purpose is to invite that homeless girl to my table.
Random Attachment is free on @kindleunlimited I would love if you downloaded it. If it takes your interest but you can’t afford it message me direct, tell me a little about yourself; only what you want to. Write a sentence or write a page and if you live in the UK I shall try to get it to you; mention if you hang at any of the YA charities like Centrepoint. You are under no obligation to review, simply to pass on to the next person who likes reading New Adult romantic thrillers…and is financially challenged. You could always write a comment on the inside cover or a doodle, maybe a pencil heart, I might not see it but your opinion matters. You matter.
So this is my action plan. Keep writing. Keep blogging. Keep listening. Keep promoting.