Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hi, I'm plum, and I'm 97 years old

In the space of the past four months, I have managed to change a part of me that I have been prone to be for 27 years... that's pretty amazing, surely?

You see, for as long as I can remember, I have always been a night owl... with the exception of when I was a kid and my dad used to put us all to bed at 6pm as we lived in a college at the time, and he had lessons he had to teach at 7pm... but other than that, I have been a person that seems to come alive at night. I have always stayed up, been productive and sociable and just generally wired from about 7pm onwards, leaving room to only sleep once the time hit morning.

As great as this has been, it has had it's significant drawbacks in the sense that waking up again the following day would always be a problem. Every job I have ever had, every morning commitment I have ever made, has always led to me being late... I had about three different alarms that went off at different times, a watch that was at least ten minutes fast and still I could not trick my mind to get up in time. A long time ago, I had resigned myself to the fact that early morning was just not the time for me...

Then, four months ago, I started to save money and, with that plan, my small insignificant and pathetic excuse for a social life, disintegrated into non existent as I chose to stay in, in contribution to said saving of money. All that being said, I found myself coming home at around 7pm, having something to eat, looking around my room, seeing my bed, and thinking... well, there's nothing else to do, I might as well just go to sleep now. 

And so, in these recent months, I have been making a habit to go sleep no later than 8pm every evening... It started as a way of ensuring that I get up early for work in the morning, all the while promising myself that I will be nice and sociable on a Friday and Saturday evening, when the early morning routine was not as important. However, (and I can't decide whether I am ashamed to say this next thing, or whether I am holding on to the fact with pride), lately I have been finding myself on a Friday night, when others are preparing to go out and dolling themselves up for a night on the town, looking around my room, glancing at my bed, then at the clock, and thinking... might as well...

All that being said, the upside has been that I have been waking up ridiculously early each morning. Gone are the days where I would need to lay my clothes out the night before, pack my bag and make sure that any food I need are pre-made, all designed for the inevitable late emerging from my duvet the following morning and following rush out of the door to ensure that I don't get fired for my constant lateness. Instead, I have been finding myself waking up at around 5:30am, a whole hour before my alarm goes off, and within that hour, I have found myself doing productive things.

Yes, ladies and gents, I have become a morning person... to the extent that, two weeks ago, I had managed to publish and advertise my book (have I mentioned I've written a book?) all before 6am.

How ridiculous is that? Who does that? I was almost ashamed at how practically geriatric I have become. In bed by half 7... usually before The-5-Year-Old has even put on her pyjamas. And then not just getting up early, but actually doing worthwhile and productive things at that hour! My every being is protesting against it... except for the tiny part of me that rather enjoys the 12 hour sleep... which, let's face it, is considerably less when you take into consideration the sheer amount of times I wake up shouting (and this is a true story from a couple of nights ago) "My grandparents would never approve of that." ... Don't ask... I can't remember what that was about, all I know is that it was another nightmare that had woken me up and, whatever it was about, my grandparents would not have been happy about it happening.

Now that the need for me to save is no longer as important (I am no longer going to America, anymore), you would thing that perhaps I might start to socialise more... and I have been considering this, however there have been a few invitations for things during the evenings that have been starting at 7pm and I have found myself laughing at, exclaiming: You want to meet at 7pm? What planet are you on? We're not teenagers anymore.


Yeah, I may need to work on that... I kinda like my early nights... and I've been doing this cross stitch lately as well as finding my old knitting needles... I've been meaning to finish that cardigan for months now...

Oh goodness me, is that the time? 7:30am on a Sunday morning? I really should be getting going, that mobility scooter isn't going to ride itself to the shops... and I did just collect those coupons for Asda...

Peace out my lovelies

Friday, 17 May 2013

Breaking news! Well, it is for me... at the most, you might find it mildly interesting... you're welcome.

It's been brought to my attention recently, that I am the teensiest hard on myself... I don't know why people insist on telling me this, but for some reason, especially in the past couple of weeks, this seems to be the theme of people's thoughts when discussing me.

I'm not saying that this is something that people do all the time; discuss me. More like, I've had maybe more than two people say it to me in as many weeks and so it has been mentioned enough times for me to actually process it.

I have no idea what they are talking about personally. I mean, I feel it is perfectly normal for a person to expect that they can write and publish a book, save £6k in 6 weeks and tie up loose ends in the country they live in, so that they can disappear abroad for 6 months, all the while undergoing 12 weeks of therapy that intends to delve into their deepest darkest phobias and insecurities, bring them all to the surface and then pick them apart, until there is nothing left but a carcass of feelings and emotions within an empty shell of a human being... however, after being told this for long enough, I have come to realise that it probably is a good idea for me to give up at least one of these things... apparently, if I don't, then there's a chance that I might self combust and that just isn't pleasant for The-Family I live with to tidy up.

So I have looked into the whole 'giving up something' area realistically and, given that I have finally started these therapy sessions after being on the waiting list for 2 years (people outside the UK, yes the NHS system is usually awesome in the sense that, should I get knocked down by a bus next week and miraculously survive this, I won't end up with bills that will permanently bankrupt me for the remainder of my physically altered life; but in the context of actually getting treatment that isn't qualified as life-threatening, the NHS does have it's long drawn out drawbacks), I decided that I was not prepared to stop these. I have already done the whole publishing of my book... so I can't really cross that long term dream off my to-do list, as it is very much in the process of 'being done.'

This has left me with the heartbreakingly reality that I will have to give up the only other option... after 6 months of preparations and anticipation, I have had to put off my trip to America. Yes ladies and gents, I am no longer disappearing State side in July, instead I will be staying in my little town of London and work on the whole 'having money and enjoying it' thing.

As much as I really didn't want to make this decision in the long run, and fought against it with every fibre of my being, since I have said the words out loud and withdrawn my sabbatical application at work, I have found myself surprisingly elated... I mean, it sucks. I really wanted (and in some sense, needed) this chance to go away, but at the same time, the whole thing was becoming this amazing stressor on my life as the time approached and the things that needed to be done, hadn't been. In fact, for the past few weeks, it had become this massive strain on my life and, any time anyone asked me about it, I tended to simply groan and plead them not to remind me of it.

So, last week, I decided that I would put a pin in that little dream for a while. I'm not saying no completely, but rather, I'm just putting it on hold until I'm in a better place to actually do it and enjoy it. As such, I'm afraid to say, a lot of what I will be obsessing over now, will be to do with my book. That being said, I will endeavour to make this as entertaining as possible, because I'm generous like that...

Anywho, I bet you're all completely overwhelmed and dragging your jaws on the floor over the fact that this is the 3rd post I've uploaded in the week! I know, right? It's almost as if we've fallen back into time about two years...

Until another time,

Peace out my lovelies.

Why do I tend to do all my thinking the moment I need to sleep?

I'm setting myself up for a night of insomnia tonight. The beautiful tablets that I usually take to help me sleep without many thoughts keeping me awake (they make me dumb and sleepy (amazing combination)) I have officially run out of and won't get my new lot until tomorrow... sucks to be me.

Anywho, I'm compensating with what the 'normal' people tend to do in these situations, by drinking hot chocolate and trying to de-stimulate my brain... I am currently in a state of de-tox in terms of alcohol, so I can't fall back on that to knock me out alas.

Ladies and gents, I've drunk my hot chocolate, I've watched silly (yet amazing) comedy, in the form of Absolutely Fabulous, all evening, and I found my eyes beginning to droop...

Alas this wasn't to last as, as soon as my head hit the pillow, my brain, which hadn't been stupified as it usually is, decided that this was the perfect time to do an all out PR brainstorming session on how to publicise my new book...

I know, I know. I can pretty much hear you all screaming at me over the fault in this particular situation...

... It's true, 'Brainstorming' is no longer considered a PC term for bringing out ideas in one session, as it runs the risk of offending those with epilepsy (true story, I actually had to sit through a seminar that spent 30 minutes covering this particular subject), the correct term is something like 'Idea fishing' or 'Thought catching' or something like that...

That being said, I have decided to risk the possible offense I will cause the people attending my *shock, gasp, I'm going to say it again* 'Brainstorming' session, as (as mentioned earlier) at the moment, it consists only of myself, my air conditioning unit and my stuffed Eeyore, all of which I've had testing for epilepsy and all of which have come back negative as well as scoring 'no offense taken' when I handed out the questionnaire on whether or not they would be offended if I went ahead and used that phrase... You're all rolling your eyes right now and thinking that this is a ridiculous tangent I've just gone on, but I ask you, is it? Or am I actually the kind of person who would write up a questionnaire for my stuffed toy and other such inanimate objects in my room, on the off chance that I end up with a HR complaint in my little publicist company? I'll leave you to answer that question.

Anywho... I've written a book... yes, it is all I can talk about.

Here's the link to where I talk about how I wrote the book a lot and milk it for all it's worth.

Here's the link to the book, which is called Utopia and is written by me... Lisa J Harries. (If you are purchasing this outside of the UK, you may need to access the version of this on your country's local Amazon site)

Now, I've gone down the road of self-publication in terms of getting my book out there. I've done this for three very valid reasons:

1. In this day and age, before you get seen my a publisher, you need to have an agent. Each agency receives about 100 - 300 manuscripts a day and take only a handful of new authors a year. It requires some serious amount of selling yourself in an almost prostitutionly manner which involves a lot more effort and self-worth than I am currently capable of.

2. If you've found yourself an agent and publisher who accept you and want to turn your baby into an actual book, you end up with about 15-20% of the royalties of each book, if that.

3. I'm just about pro-active enough to write a book but too lazy to actually do anything in reason 1.

So, I decided to do the whole self-publication thing, which led to seeing my beautiful little scrumptious baby of a book on the Amazon book shelf for anyone to digitally buy. It really is amazing to see... Sometimes, when I find myself with nothing to do, I just open up the page where my book is being sold and gaze at it lovingly... I've never seen a more good looking announcement of the impending apocalypse in my life.

All this being said, I have fallen upon a few little snags by choosing the do-it-yourself option...

1. All the editing in the world still results in the sodding thing being published with mistakes dotted around the book like some infested little disease ridden plague that physically offends and repulses me, each time I come across one.

2. I do not have the luxury of having some massive firm publicising my book on billboards around London and on the side of buses and instead must make do with my own little version of advertising...

Now due to this complete lack of professional advertising, this has been the thing that my mind has decided to focus on when it should be letting me sleep and is the thing that is causing me to sit at my computer writing on my blog in the vain hope that by writing down my thoughts, it will give my brain some form of relief and let it rest...

The problem lies, however, in that I am not the best person to deal with compliments/love/nice feelings/seeking attention really... It's not that I don't like all those things, I do. It's more that when those things are directed towards me, I tend to either crawl into the fetal position or throw up on the persons shoes.

After a long period of thinking, I have decided that therefore, my advertising campaign shall be the "What the hell is that about?" campaign. The 'Brainstorming' (I am so hardcore) for this has been as follows:

1. Walking around the streets of London with a few volunteers, all wearing sandwich boards that say 'The end of the world is nigh... ish... possibly... I don't know.' Finding street corners and giving speeches that hold no definitive answers about how that I'm sure there might be a possibility that somewhere down the line the world might decide to just give up possibly, in a way that could happen by the sun overheating or loads of ice melting or the air becoming toxic or monkeys taking over or something... possibly... I'm looking into it.

And then of course, when people come up and want to hear more about the breaking news we are imparting on them all, there people will be with flyers that just has the link to my book on it. (Seriously, if people want to go ahead and do that without me, I'm totally fine with that).

2. I make T Shirts... in true Lgalaviz fashion... except I will actually make them. If people are prepared to wear them, I'm even pretty certain I will give away the first 20 T shirts that people want... as soon as I get around to making them. All of them will have slightly bizarre yet completely open statements on the front that will cause the reader to go 'What the hell is that about?' At which point, the wearer will turn around and point to back of the shirt, where the link and image of my book will be available... The statements I have come up with so far are:

I've read it, have you?

Hands up if you know what Danel is. 
(You might need to have read the book to get that one)

I bought a book that saved the world... and it wasn't even the bible. What have you done?

Before I read Utopia, I was ugly.

Utopia saved my marriage.

And so on and so forth... you know, I'm just spit balling here... feel free to leave your own suggestions. 

And that is all my brain has managed to think up... I briefly considered coming up with more advertising ideas to flesh out the blog some more, but then I figured that would pretty much defeat the object of the whole 'trying to get to sleep' prospect anyway...

Many thanks to everyone who has been so supportive so far of my book. I've been so touched and completely nauseated (in the most complimented and loving way) by it all. So much so, that should you know you are close to bumping into me at any time, I suggest you wear shoes you aren't too fond of. 

A little shout out to Roxie who, come rain or shine, no matter how erratic I am being on this blog, always has something to say that usually picks me up... your comments are always welcome, thank you for your support! Also to Ayra who even went as far as devoting a whole blog post to my book, you are awesome and I was overwhelmed and touched by your "every little help" (I know that doesn't technically make sense, but let's pretend it did).

Thank you to everyone who has helped, you are all wonderful and further publicising would be amazeballs covered in honey (or as The-Family like to call it, 'Bee-Wee') soaked in scrumptious stuff that my brain can't think of because I think I've actually managed to knacker it out and it finally wants to go to sleep... we'll see. 

Overall, just thanks, everyone. You've made a simple little gal from London, very happy. 

Peace out my lovelies.

Monday, 13 May 2013

I have officially joined the realms of the published author

I have earnt myself a new nickname in the house I live, especially with the 11-Year-Old who has officially dubbed me as 'The-Famous-Author.' He has also stated that he wants me to sign as many pieces of paper as possible, so that he can then go ahead and sell them on in a couple of years time, which is when he predicts I will be officially as big and famous as JK Rowling.

His reasons for all of this? ... Well, after many many months of saying I will do it and then putting it off to watch TV or fall asleep, I have officially published my book: Utopia.

Yes ladies and gents, you are now in contact with non other than an actual bona fide published author who has her own little space on Amazon, ready for anyone worldwide to buy her book. It is rather grand and kinda awesome in a really terrifying kind of way.

You see, this little novel is my baby right at the centre of something that has been my dream ever since I was 10 years old and used to write stories about my class, a new chapter each week that my teacher would then let me read out to the class at the end of the day. We would go on adventures on pirate ships and to distant lands... it was awesome.

From as young as I can remember, I have been saying that I want to be an author. From the moment that I picked up a Famous Five book and became hooked on their stories, I longed to be able to write of my own fictional places and create characters that would never have existed if I hadn't written them down.

Along the way however, when I reached the wonderful phase of life that is teenage-land, a bit of the dream disappeared from me... English was always my favourite subject and I never tired of being able to write, but at the same time, life got in the way and the thought of writing seemed to be childish for a while. Along with this thought, I lost some of my confidence in the words that I wrote. I assumed I would never be good enough to write as my favourite authors, I would never be able to write a scene as beautiful as the ones I filled my head with in the books I read every night before I went to sleep. I let my dream slide, and I stopped writing.

In amongst all of this, I still found myself completely enthralled by the magic of story telling. I watched about 4 movies a week and had at least one book on the go at all times. Every so often, I would come across a book or a film that would be so beautiful and touch my heart in such a way, I would feel a physical ache right in the very core of me; a longing to be able to transform my imagination into words as beautifully as what I had just experienced.

When I hit about 18, I was asked to write a short sketch for the church I was going to at the time. I was apprehensive, I didn't think I would be able to do it. Thankfully however, the people asking me wouldn't take no for an answer and for the first time in 7 years, I wrote a story... or rather a play. It was ridiculous, it was about an X Factor competition with biblical characters as the judges. It was highly non-sensical, with cheap gags and so on, but writing it was the most fun I had had in a long time. I found that it stirred something in my heart that had been dormant for a while. I remembered what it felt like to write fiction again and with that memory came the childlike excitement I had had all those years ago. My younger self woke up from the comatose stupour I had put her in and did a little jig.

Over the years, I have written sketches, plays, short stories and, when I hit 22 and was first overwhelmed with the completely devastating pain that was depression, I tried my hand at a novel. It took me 2 years to write and was called Serenity. Even though it came from a time in my life that was quite dark, it surprisingly wasn't that depressing. It was the best therapy I had ever given myself. Every time I felt low and had no answers to what the real world had to throw at me, I had this completely beautiful fantasy world that I had created to escape to. When people didn't react in a way that made sense to me and only seemed to aggrevate the bad feelings I had, I had characters that did exactly as I told them to. It was the most freeing thing I had ever felt.

Again, last year, out of a nightmare that scared the living crap out of me, I found myself with a need to write a novel. So I wrote, I took the crappiest lemons that life has handed me, my without-fail, regular-like-clockwork, every-night recurrent nightmares, and I made lemonade.

And now I have taken this and stepped out into a world whereby I am allowing my dream to be realised. 27 years of dreaming and hoping all came to a head last Wednesday, as I opened up Amazon and found my book available to buy.

I went to Harry Potter Studio Tours last year with the wonderful One-And-Only-Daniela and found the below quote from JK Rowling written on the wall.

"No story lives unless someone wants to listen."

It sums it up really. I have this story that I want to tell and, at the moment, the only place it exists is in my head. My dream is that I am able to put it into your head too. The love that I have for my characters; the frustration and anger and happiness and joy and tears that I have given them all, I want you guys to feel too.

There is this story I've written and it is from the very heart of me. I was wondering... erm... if you wouldn't mind... ahem... possibly... having a go at giving it a read?

Below is the link to the site. It is available worldwide but it will require you accessing the book from your country's own equivalent Amazon site if you are not from the UK. It's only available electronically at the moment. If you don't have a kindle however, this is fine, neither do I. All you have to do is download the kindle app onto your smartphone/tablet of choice which is completely free of charge, and then after you buy it, the next time you open the app, there it will be, all shiny and new.

And now for one last thing. Since going over this book with all my wonderful editing skills time and time again, since purchasing my own copy, I have noted some very annoying mistakes spotted around the book... it really sucks.

Anywho... I am choosing to use this as an awesome selling point as, if you buy this first edition, with all the mistakes in, then, when I am (as The-11-Year-Old is convinced I will be) at the same status as JK Rowling, you can then sell this book on for the millions it will no doubtedly be worth and buy an island or a really expensive carpet or whatever it is that the kids are buying these days. You're welcome.

Oh, and please, please, please advertise the hell out of this book for me... even if you hated it, it's fine. Just tell everyone that you loved it. You can lie. I've looked into it and I'm like 98% certain there will be no long term repercussions. Feel free to make up your own lies too... go nuts... hell, tell everyone that by buying the book they will be contributing to sending out a signal to lasers in the sky, targeted on the meteor that is about to hit Earth and without a million of these signals, the lasers won't hit the meteor and the world will end. Thus meaning, that by buying the book, they are contributing to the saving of all mankind (That one might actually be true... maybe).

Or you know, whatever lie you feel called to use... I'll leave that completely up to you.

Thanks to all who have already bought it and to those who are about to after reading this. Feel free to let me know what you think, even if you hated it... that's fine.

Love you all hugely and a little bit inappropriately.

Peace out my lovelies.