Surviving sugar addiction – finding life balance

(Keto/low carb diet to combat sugar addiction!)

Hello, I’m Leilanie and I’m a sugar addict.

There, I’ve said it! The cat is out of the bag! Admitting something is the first step to recovery. So, shall we have a dialogue about it? I’d like to. Sugar addiction is very real, though not treated nearly as seriously as drug or alcohol addiction. But heart disease, diabetes, cancer and numerous other ailments that are a result of sugar addiction are very serious. Yet there is no stigma about it. It isn’t treated as taboo. People would not offer a recovering alcoholic a beer, but would happily offer a sugar addict a cake. Why? Because sugar is socially accepted.

There is a world of difference between having a sweet tooth and a full blown sugar addiction. I am one of the latter folks, sadly. For me, this means bingeing on chocolate, cake and starchy foods to get a ‘high’ then feeling guilty. Recently I have started my former bad habit of secretly bingeing in the hope that no-one sees. You see, if no-one sees then it didn’t happen. Doesn’t make sense, does it? No. But then addiction doesn’t.

To date I have found no cure for my sugar addiction. I think about junk food ALL the time. I think about my next snack while I’m already eating. I try to justify decisions to buy sweets or reasons why I had to eat all the desserts in the cupboard. Is this a problem? Yes, a big one. Is it an eating disorder? Yes, I would say so even if conventional advice would disagree. At my worst last year I had food blackouts and legitimately did not know why whole multi-packs of biscuits were missing from the cupboard when I knew I had bought them.

So folks, I’m now back on keto as I did last year, though this time not for weight loss but to short-circuit my increasingly desperate need for a sugar fix. It’s the only thing that suppresses my appetite. I’m planning to come off low carb/keto when I can trust myself to not eat an entire box of delicious salted caramel Lindor chocolates in 10 minutes as I did yesterday…😱 Wish me luck!

Too tempting!

Happy Beltane 2021 – stories for Mayday

Can you believe it’s May already? This year has flown in and thankfully now that we’re out of lockdown here in Northern Ireland, and the weather is picking up, it’s much more enjoyable.

To celebrate the 1st of May, also known to the Pagan community as Beltane (fertility festival) here are a couple of Beltane/Beltaine related stories for you to read:

Gods of Avalon Road is my debut novel set on 1st of May. Kerry and Gavin are University friends who travel to London to work for the enigmatic Oliver Doncaster. They find themselves lured into an arcane Druid ritual on Mayday that summons ancient Celtic gods from Avalon. But when the Sun God is resurrected, Kerry finds a familiar face in the handsome warrior known as Belenus and realises there is more to their relationship than first meets the eye. This book is an urban fantasy with elements of historical fiction and paranormal romance.

Read the review on Soph’s Book World
Listen to an excerpt:

Child of the Earth is a short story by Amy Finlay published on Bindweed Magazine today. Ethel Stewart is a midwife who, despite having birthed thousands of babies, struggles to have one of her own. But when she meets a mysterious woman who lives in the glen near her village, Ethel is given a Mayday offer too good to refuse – but at what cost?

Hope you like these stories! Of course, if you’re anything like me you’ll be watching the Wicker Man as well to celebrate Mayday. Enjoy!

The Redundancy of Tautology is now published!

My third poetry collection, The Redundancy of Tautology, is now published! You can buy copies for £10.84 from Amazon UK, $15.00 from Amazon dot com and from my publisher’s website at Cyberwit.

It will be a while before I can organise a book launch event, as we’re still in partial lockdown here in Northern Ireland. Retail will not be opening until 26th April, so bookstores are still closed. However, if you want to read samples of the poems in the collection, some of them have been previously published in magazines and anthologies. Check out these links to read more for FREE!

The Redundancy of Tautology” first published in Dead Snakes Magazine, 2016.

New-sense” first published in The Open Mouse, 2014.

A faraday cage will keep you safe, Thou dost protest too much, Life is a-changing, Long haul, Show not tell, Ripe fruit” first published in Mudjob Magazine, 2013

Landmass” first published in Jellyfish Whispers, 2013.

English Litter-ature” first published in Boyslut Magazine, 2013.

Hope you enjoy reading!

Gods of Avalon Road reviewed on Soph’s Book World

Many thanks to Sofia at Soph’s Book World for taking the time to read and review my book, Gods of Avalon Road, which you can read – here! I had asked for an honest review in exchange for sending her a paperback copy and it was great to read her thoughts. As a reader myself, whenever I’m looking for new books I feel that reviews are important in helping me decide, so I’m glad for a candid appraisal of my book that might help potential new readers to make up their minds.

About the review itself, I was interested to hear that Sofia would have liked my two protagonists, Kerry and Gavin, to have hooked up during the course of the book! It’s funny that back when I was writing the first draft, I had included a raunchy scene between the pair that I had later cut in favour of an unrequited love from Gavin towards Kerry (who if you’ve read the book, will know is besotted with the Sun God, Belenus). I wonder do any other readers out there feel the same way about a romance happening between the two platonic friends? Bear in mind that I have outlined a sequel, which I’ll be writing as novel WIP #5 so your opinion matters!

Life in a pandemic age – lateral flow testing and literary escapism

Better safe than sorry – twice weekly self-testing for staff

Just a personal blog post today, as I haven’t written anything non-writing related in a while and, of course, many other things have been on my mind. This week the main change to my 3 month lockdown routine is that I’ve been back to work. As I’ve mentioned in many previous posts, I work in a secondary school as my main full-time job. GCSE and A-level pupils (16-18 year old students, for those reading outside the UK) have been back into school since Monday, and as I work with Year 12, I’ve been back in class. So no more Zoom and Collaborate lessons; back to face-to-face learning. As part of the steps to contain coronavirus, all staff and pupils can avail of voluntary lateral flow testing. Since my attitude is better safe than sorry, I’m taking part in the twice weekly self-testing with a home pack as in the photo.

A conversation I had with friends at work has been on my mind. I wonder if we will ever get to the stage where we can look back at 2020 and 2021 and reflect on how these years in isolation become known as the ‘pandemic years’, much like the 1918 flu. Or rather than becoming resigned to history as a strange period in time once contained, will Covid-19 roll on as a seasonal illness like the common cold, or flu and we find ourselves at risk every year? Wearing face masks, hand washing, using sanitising gel and social distancing have become so commonplace now that I wonder if this will be the new normal permanently? It’s hard to imagine society having to shut down on mini-lockdowns every winter, say, but could that become the way forward? It paints a bleak picture for sure, but if it saves lives then it’s worth it.

On a related literary note, I downloaded Diary of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe on my Kindle, though I admit it is a bit too close to home for me to comfortably read at the moment. I’ve been reading mainly psychological thrillers and supernatural horror at the minute as I’m enjoying escapism, as many are, I’d say. Reality is grim enough for the present time, though thankfully the death toll in Northern Ireland has been at zero for the past few days, giving us all a bit of much-needed hope. Lucinda Berry, Frieda McFadden and Miranda Rijks have been a few authors keeping me sane during these trying times!

Gods of Avalon Road featured on Snowflakes in a Blizzard

Thanks to Snowflakes in a Blizzard for featuring my book, Gods of Avalon Road for a promotion. You can read more as I discuss my book in the feature here.

Happy World Poetry Day 2021!

Happy World Poetry Day 21st March 2021! To celebrate you can hear me read from my poetry collection Chemotherapy for the Soul and my hubby Joseph Robert’s poetry collection Brexit Brokeshit.

Hope you enjoy listening to my reading and have fun celebrating today with your own ventures in verse!

Traditional publishing frustrations – why I’m preparing to go Indie

Thinking of going it alone

If you’ve read my blog post on 22nd February about my experiences of traditional, hybrid and self-publishing, you’ll know that whenever possible I’ve been trying to send my work to small publishing houses. This is not because there’s anything wrong with Indie Publishing, in fact, quite the contrary; I wish I could do it all by myself. The main reason I have been approaching traditional publishers in the first instance is because I’m a writer; I’m confident at producing and editing a manuscript, but not that skilled at typesetting a book, designing a cover, marketing my work and selling it. Having a publisher helps get my work out into the world. However, there significant drawbacks to traditional publishing and lately I’ve had my fill of those.

The first downside of traditional publishing is that it’s slow. Boy, is it slow! You can submit your work and be waiting for goodness-how-long to get a response and even then, odds are it will be a rejection after all that. But I’m a patient person, and I’ve quietly waited for many a response to query letters, submitting again and again in the hope of success. That’s not the reason why I’m starting to feel traditional publishing burnout, as is the case this month.

You’ll know if you follow my blog that I was given detailed feedback for my latest novel manuscript submission, two pages in fact, with a note from the acquisitions editor of that particular publisher that they welcomed any questions I had. Which I did have. After all, if you are being asked to do significant edits throughout your 90,000 word manuscript with an invitation to make amendments and resubmit for a second read-through, wouldn’t you want to ask details? I’m not precious about my work; I was willing to make most of the suggested revisions, however, I wanted to know specifics on a few parts that would have impacted the overall tone of the story. Pretty important stuff, right? Well, apparently not to said publisher. I haven’t had a response now in eight weeks. Not reassuring, I know. Still, it wasn’t a wasted effort. In the two months since their detailed feedback, I have incorporated most of the changes to my work which I feel has made it more commercial. Less literary, sadly, but more mainstream and at the end of the day, a writer wants their work to appeal to the widest readership, so the changes were necessary – and cost me nothing, except time.

Now, onto my second small press publishing gripe of late. I mentioned recently that my third poetry collection is forthcoming. Well, after a flurry of edits checking for typos and deciding on cover artwork, during which the response time of the publisher was hours, I was informed that my book was going to print. The publisher asked if I would order 10-20 copies to support the press at author discount, of course. I mentioned that I hadn’t yet received my contract and that I would be happy to buy copies later for book signing events, once lockdown is over. Unusually for the publisher, I received no response. After nearly a week I followed this up asking if they still intended to publish my book, to which I received an emphatic YES! (Actually in capitals like that) along with my attached contract. I signed and returned it with a note that I looked forward to hearing a publication date for my book. No response to that one, and as of tomorrow it will be two weeks. Again, as with the communication over my novel above, this cost me nothing except my precious time, which I’m starting to fear has been wasted.

As such, I’m starting to reach the end of my tether dealing with one too many small press publishers who turn out to have unreliable conduct. I am awaiting a few more simultaneous submission responses from publishers that I’m hoping will be more professional. In the meantime, I’m getting clued up about self-publishing. I’ve been learning from Indie author friends about sites that are easy to use to do my own cover artwork and reading up on typesetting. A week or two ago I hadn’t even heard of widows and orphans, so I’ve come a long way! Maybe later this year, who knows, I’ll be taking my publishing career into my own hands. It will be a fun adventure either way.

Happy World Book Day 2021!

It’s Thursday 4th March, which means it’s World Book Day. Hurray! Encouraging a love of reading is particularly important for children, but books are important for everyone, no matter how old or young.

To celebrate, why not listen to an excerpt from my debut novel Gods of Avalon Road. It’s also on sale for £5.00 from my online shop Meandi Books with free shipping worldwide using code ZDP85H at checkout. Enjoy!

February literary update

This has been a crazy week. Two weeks ago, part of our livingroom ceiling collapsed. We’ve had builders and plasterers in over the past few days, which has made working from home more cramped, though I’m grateful for the much-needed repairs.

My writing nook amidst ceiling-repair chaos. Currently editing my second novel manuscript, which is under consideration by a US publisher.

I’ve been trying to stick to a schedule for my full time job while working remotely, and my writing on lunch breaks and early evening time, before picking up the babe from childcare. Lots of literary things have been going on. On Wednesday I got the proof copy of my forthcoming poetry book, The Redundancy of Tautology, from the publisher, Cyberwit. Pleased to report that I only noticed one typo and my super editor hubby, Joseph Robert, spotted one more. The manuscript is now going to print – yay! More about this in the coming weeks.

Earlier today I also got my bi-annual royalties statement for my novel, Gods of Avalon Road, from Blossom Spring Publishing. A happy, Friday pick-me-up!

In the meantime, it’s business as usual on my lunch break as I tackle the current round of edits I’m doing on my hopefully soon to be published second novel, which is under consideration by a US publisher. If you’ve read my earlier posts on this novel, you’ll know that I received detailed feedback on suggested revisions to make before another read-through by the editor. Exciting stuff, but also busy work!