Goodbye 2018….

This year has been an interesting one. As with all others there have been some ups and downs and I’m sure there are so many things that I could mention that will get missed along the way. I’m not going to pretend it’s all been a bed of roses, because that wouldn’t do the year justice, but I know that with the bad I’ve been able to better appreciate the good. So here’s a run down of the points I want to make in no particular order.

We finally moved out of Yorkshire and to one of my favourite cities in the world and I couldn’t be happier for it. I feel alive again. I’ve lost weight, and I’m finally getting the healthcare that I deserve. Not saying that my old GP wasn’t fab, she was, but the other healthcare there was useless.

Moving out of that awful flat means that both my asthma and J’s have improved tenfold. That bathroom was awful and there was no sign of it being fixed before we left.

I published The Stolen Generation on Amazon and received some good reviews for it.
I made some amazing new friends through autistic activism and began to support Autistic Inclusive Meets with some of Redbubble profits.

My Patreon is slowly starting to make some headway and I’ve been publishing monthly stories for my patrons.

I started a short story series called the Intergalatic Miltary Series, two of which can be seen on the aforementioned Patreon.

I’ve also made and lost some friendships this year, and that’s been tough. Really tough. I learnt the hard way this year that sometimes people are just not what they seem. Sometimes helping someone leads to them stabbing you in the back and causing more drama than its worth, and quite frankly I’m tired of the high school attitudes that accompany that drama.

My heart has taken a beating in several ways this year. Friendship issues not being the only source of that pain. The loss of a dear friend who I had spent many long conversations with shook me to the bone. Clay Cross, a gentle giant of a man who came into my life through another mutual friend passed away on 11th December 2018. He was an absolute sweetheart with as open a mind as they come. He never judged, but he loved and protected fiercely, and the world is a sadder place without him, but the skies have gained another star.

As we head into 2019, there are so many things I hope for, but the one thing I want more than anything else is to remind myself that I am worthy of love, respect and dignity. That I deserve to be treated properly and that I’m not longer going to take any of the nastiness that people have decided to throw my way over the past.

In 2019, I have a list of goals that will be achieved and I intend to stick by them. 

Writing wise:

  • I will be publishing The Final Battle – the last in The Lunegosse Tales Trilogy.
  • I’ll also be bringing out the trilogy in one book.
  • I will be publishing a short story every month on my Patreon.
  • I will be submitting more short stories to magazines and anthologies.
  • I will be aiming to publish more than one book in the coming year. So watch this space as there are a few percolating in my mind right now.

Art wise

  • I intend to make more #ActuallyAutistic designs on Redbubble and my other POD sites to support Autistic Inclusive Meets.
  • I intend to work on producing new designs in general.
  • I will be offering some existing sketches and some customised pieces for sale.

Personally:

  • I’m going back to therapy, spending time working on myself, and looking after me. That means that if I need a break I’ll take it. This is my life and I’ll live it the way I choose to do so.
  • I’m not going to live my life for anyone but myself.
  • I’m going to focus on my health and doing what I can to make the best of my life.
  • I’m getting a new wheelchair.
  • I’ll be doing more social things.

Activism wise:

  • I’ll be attending more protests
  • I’ll be keeping my voice strong in the communities that I’m an activist for.

To those who have wronged me in 2018 – I forgive you.
To those who have harmed me in 2018 – I forgive you.
To those who have thought of doing either of the above in 2018 – I forgive you.
To those who have chosen to walk away from me in 2018 – thank you for being in my life as long as you were, if you choose to come back, you may find that you are welcome again, but trust may take some time to rebuild.
To those who I lost in 2018 – may your spirits soar, you will be thought of often.

#StayTrueandStaunch – Fanatical About Fanatical

Whenever I decide to write a review about something I’ve been to see it’s usually with a hint of the fanboi in me. And sometimes I feel extremely guilty about that fact, but when it comes to Fanatical – A Sci-Fi Convention Musical I have no need to. It’s a musical that literally pulls at the heart strings of fandom. It’s extremely clear that Reina Hardy and Matt Board know fandom at an intimate level, the script and the songs are sheer genius (and if you know me, I don’t say that lightly).

I really don’t want to spoil people when it comes to the plot. But I can honestly say that every single science fiction, convention going geek, like myself, will find themselves in the characters of the musical. And see reflections of other familiar faces too. It’s also, for the Gaters amongst us (Stargate fans to the unknowing), particularly poignant, as Suanne Braun (SG-1’s Hathor) plays Trix, the con organiser who has worked her behind off to pull together a convention for Angel 8 fans. And knowing a few con organisers myself, I can honestly say, I definitely recognised a couple of them in her character.

The music in this show is lively, it sticks in your head, and J and I may have walked back to the station singing one of Trix’s songs from the second half whilst creasing up in giggles. I’m currently praying for a soundtrack (Reina tweeted me about hoping to get funding), because it’s definitely one I would be singing along with in the shower (and the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom…).

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The only downside to today was the size of the audience. Fanatical may be a small show in terms of musical theatre audience size, but it deserves to be filled to the rafters every night. Sophie Powles epitomises every fangirl who has found her connection with a strong female character in her role as Andra, whilst Eddy Payne’s Baxter will be familiar to every man who was once that awkward sci-fi fanboy. Stephen Frost is as Scott Furnish is every single fan’s experience of a worst nightmare – meeting your hero when they are in a bad mood.

The set is recognisable as a convention for those of us who walk (or in my case usually wheel through) those hallowed halls. The touch of the Pop Vinyl collectables was a nice one. I got the opportunity to look at them during the interval and I have to say, as a collector, it did make me smile. I won’t deny that I’ve scoured convention floors looking for particular Pops, or collectables (my Janeway tree ornament that took 3 years to track down for example). The costumes sum up every single convention you’ve ever been to, a mix of cosplay, con crew shirts, and the odd geeky t-shirt too.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, whether you love musicals or not, this show has to be on your must-see list before it closes on December 8th. You’ll love it!

The Stolen Generation – Freddie’s abandonment issues

As a writer, every single one of my characters has a little bit of me poured into them, and none so much as the protagonists I write. With my last published novel, The Stolen Generation, I talked about the nature of being non-binary, about addiction, and brought lesbian relationships to the forefront. I also brought something else into the story that I’ve struggled with for a lot of my own life. Abandonment issues.

Continue reading “The Stolen Generation – Freddie’s abandonment issues”

The bathroom debate

Have you ever sat and listened to the ludicrous waffle spouted by the right wing in the US when it comes to transgender people using the toilets for their actual gender rather than their birth assigned sex? Have you sat and read the articles on how it puts our children at risk of assault, etc. etc. etc.? There’s nothing more ridiculous in my eyes than this debate.

As a disabled person who uses a wheelchair or walking sticks to get around, I use the accessible toilet. I can’t get myself up off the toilet without the bar to pull myself up on or on some days, help from my carer. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t mean that I’m a pervert, and I don’t think anyone would call me one for needing someone with me in the toilet to help me in and out of my chair on bad days. So why is it that a person using a toilet cubicle or a urinal is a pervert? They are just going about their business.

Also, if you’re from the UK there’s another thing to add to this debate, something that all people who require the use of an accessible toilet will acknowledge, our toilets are unisex. Every single accessible toilet you come across in public spaces is unisex. Admittedly there’s usually only one, unless you’re in a large shopping centre, and it’s usually a single room, but that’s not the point. Ladies get one toilet, gents another, and the accessible toilet is unisex. We’re not expected to want or need a single sex toilet. For us it’s a case of ‘this is what you get’ and this has been the way of it since accessible toilets became a thing in the UK.

At home our toilets are unisex. We don’t have separate bathrooms for the men and women who live with us. We’d think the idea absurd. So why in the hell is it an issue when a transgender person who was born with different genitals from you wants to use the same toilets as you use because it’s the gender they are?

Beware the healthy mommy blogger

So a friend posted that they’ve worked with Goop magazine recently. This has given me huge issues. I get that they were working with a particular friend who was featured in the magazine, but here’s the thing, Gwyneth Paltrow is a hack. Her website advocates crap like Autism Speaks without challenge. In articles such as this one: https://goop.com/wellness/health/the-autism-epidemic/

It talks about chemical contamination from Teflon – science has shown us that in order to be contaminated by Teflon you’d need to be cooking at temperatures far higher than you should be and that you’d be using your cooking equipment really badly. You’d be burning all of your food. Articles like this are misleading: https://goop.com/…/food-p…/what-we-need-to-know-about-pfoas/

Articles that recommend chelation of all damn things! Which by the way is harmful to the human body. Because apparently ‘heavy metal toxicity’ is a thing that we all need to watch out for and it causes things like chronic illness (apparently): https://goop.com/wellness/…/what-to-know-about-heavy-metals/

Look guys I get it, we all need to work. We all need money, and we will all do anything for our friends. But when we sell ourselves short, and when we sell out it really is disturbing. There are certain people who do more harm than good in this world with their views on things like vaccinations and autism, chelation, and bleach enemas. And inserting jade eggs in your vagina. Let’s not forget that Gwyneth and her team really aren’t doctors. They aren’t even trained alternative therapists, they’re mommy bloggers with a desire to push their lifestyles on the world.

I’m tired

I’m tired. Perhaps that’s the hardest thing to explain. Because when I say I’m tired, I don’t mean that I’m just ‘tired’, I mean that I’m tired to my very soul.
 
I’m tired of being a chronic pain patient. I’m tired of being in pain all the time, I’m tired of having to explain what it’s like to be in pain all the time. I’m tired of people telling me that they don’t know how I do it or that they couldn’t do it. Because, actually, yes they could. When you’re faced with this sort of unending pain you get on with it because you have no choice. There is no option but to get up each day and get on with it. And even if you find that you can’t get out of bed, you still have to just get on with it.

Continue reading “I’m tired”

C Three Foundation is 5 years old this month

If you know me, or follow my work, you know I’m an avid supporter of Claudia Christian’s C Three Foundation and the work they do in advocating The Sinclair Method of treating Alcohol Use Disorder. They are celebrating their 5th birthday this month with a fundraising silent auction and have a goal of $5k. Let’s help them smash it! It runs until 17th June and there’s some amazing things on offer, especially if you’re a sci-fi geek or nerd!

Tuesday Top 10 – Books from my youth

As I’m a Young Adult author, this Tuesday I thought I’d share with you my top ten favourite books from my youth. These books go back to the earliest chapter books I remember reading, onwards to books I read as a teenager. They may look like a random mix of books, but they are the ones that have stayed with me the longest. Continue reading “Tuesday Top 10 – Books from my youth”

The Cherry Orchard – Two hours of your life you won’t want back.

An intimate theatre setting is always going to be my favourite. Small audiences, close to the stage, no matter where’re you’re sitting, and that feeling of the fourth wall being so close that you literally are the fly on the wall (and for this drama student a throwback to the days of drama studios and confined spaces) The Cherry Orchard at London’s Union Theatre is no exception.

Before we get any further, I’m going to preface this with saying that I’m the Theatre kid that loved Chekhov and Ibsen at school. I’m also the English Literature kid that devoured Orwell and Huxley, and I’m a Stargate fan. Why is this all important? Simple. Suanne Braun was the reason that at least half of the audience were in the theatre last night. She was our Hathor, Mother of All Goa’uld in Stargate SG-1, and we were all eager to see her perform. But for me, it was my fifth adaptation of this Chekov play that has always had a place in my heart.

The set evoked the crumbling estate perfectly, the decaying walls of the building, the moss growing up through the floorboards, walls falling down around them, the set design perfectly echoed the era in which Chekhov’s play was set. Yes the theatre geek in me was happy to note the tiny details like the plant life between the floorboards, Justin Williams and Jonny Rust definitely did the production justice in this regard.

I’m a Chekhov purest at heart, you might have guessed that from the fact this is the fifth adaptation that I’ve seen. But even that didn’t stop me loving this one. This production had one major and vital change in that the Bolsheviks took the estate. Something that doesn’t happen with the original. And perhaps that’s the reason that amidst the chaotic feelings of the end, I still found myself crying with Ranyevskaya as her world crumbled around her. Or perhaps it was the fact that as Lopakhin and Trofimov discussed the past and the future, she sat their silently staring out at her beloved orchard, weeping silently.

Braun’s portrayal of Ranyevskaya was, quite frankly, sublime, and I’m not just saying that as a fan of the sci-fi franchise that introduced me to her work, or a fan of her body of cinematic work (I will admit to having purchased Fleshtone and Starhyke because once I find myself enjoying someone’s work, I want to watch more of it), but because she pulls the audience in. You ride her emotional rollercoaster with her, wishing that she really could forget about her financial worries, and not wanting to blame her for her desire to run away from her troubles into a world of fantasy. Braun showcases the rapid emotional shifts that Ranyevska is prone to with a beautiful fluidity that makes them completely relatable and believable for the audience. It’s breathtaking to watch.

The cohesiveness of the cast is beautiful. I’ve been to other productions near the end of the run and found that by this time, the cast have been a little shoddy when it comes to their interaction with each other (yes even professional productions) and their hearts aren’t really in it, but that wasn’t the case with The Cherry Orchard’s cast. From Anya to Charlotta to Yasha, the way in which the cast portrayed the relationships between the characters was just perfection. I have to give a mention here to Molly Crookes for her performance as Dunyasha, the maid. The way in which she portrayed Dunyasha’s feelings for Yasha, her disdain for Yyepikhodov, her flirtatious nature, it all fitted the nature of the character in a way that is often missed in productions of this play. She’s often played as flighty and silly, whereas I found Crooke’s performance showed her humanity.

Caroline Wildi’s Pishchik on the other hand, was exactly as air headed as she should have been. Her lack of understanding that others around her were often in a worse state than she, the wistful look in her eyes when she talked of her dancing days and her dear father were just right. Lakesha Cammock was a wonderful browbeaten Varya whose sensibility was a stark and brilliant contrast to Braun’s emotional frivolity and Lucy Menzies’ ideologically naive Anya. Richard Gibson’s Gaev (Ranyevskaya’s brother) was a performance that will stick with me as a portrayal of the dementia that hits those in later years. Having lost both my grandmother and an uncle to different types of the harrowing fate that is dementia, I was struck by the truth in his performance. How coherence and lucidity mixed with bouts of nonsense and memory.

I feel guilty for not going into depth on each and every performance within the production, but truth is that I could be here for hours if I did. And I still wouldn’t do them all justice. I’ve chosen just a few highlights from this wonderful show. And if you’re able to see it before it closes tomorrow, Saturday 7th April, I recommend you do. It’s most definitely one that shouldn’t be missed. But as I said, it’s a small theatre and tickets are on a first come, first served basis.

The production is at The Union Theatre, Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London, SE1 0LR. www.uniontheatre.biz