I've had a go at writing under two different genres. I wrote under the pseudonym Pearl Barley, THE FAT BAG stuck between a rock cake & a hard plaice (yes, 'plaice' spelt like the fish) for a bit of fun and its sequel Waist Not; Want Not? while The AL-EX Project (Alternative Existence) is written under my real name.
The FAT Bag was my first publishing attempt. I've always kept diaries since my teens (many years ago) and ended up with a collection of true stories about life, mainly my love of food, dieting efforts, relationships, clothes shopping, shoes and chocolate - the usual type of women's issues, many of which, in particular, were pertinent to THE FAT BAG stuck between a rock cake & a hard plaice (I simply love the play on words).
The title of the book has a double-meaning. All gets revealed in the final chapter. I'd rarely seen a dieting book that told the truth laid bare from the prospective of the struggling dieter with sadly no happy ending, So I wrote one myself.
"Waist Not; Want Not" is the sequel and contains more moans and groans about my lot, my weight and I've expanded it to include the revelations of reaching middle age as I creep ever nearer to this new phase in my life. All in good humour as always. There's surprisingly a great deal of material to push the moan-omiter up to maximum like the temperature guage on a barometer. With tongue firmly in cheek, it seems moaning and complaining is an art form that I have mastered successfully.
Then I go and end up writing something completely different...
The AL-EX Project (Alternative Existence) is a story that I confess was inspired by my guardian angel. That's right, my guardian angel, and no I'm not nuts! I know it sounds bizarre and believe me, before I wrote this story, I confess to being the biggest sceptic.
It was after reading an article about a lady who believes in guardian angels and says we all have one, and we can ask our guardian angel for help or to assist in things we might want (I wasn;t convinced at first but gave it a go) so I tapped into my personal guardian angel (no word of a lie) making my request out loud to the Cosmos, and asked specifically for the kind of imagination that would allow me to write an entertaining and believable fun read. I even dared to hope it would be a best seller. I wish now that I had wished it so, because I did indeed spend many months writing what I consider to be an amusing and whimsical tales all about dream exploration, since, against the odds, I 'appear' to have been granted an abundance of imagination. I wish I'd asked for a lottery jackpot win now (*grin).
Anyway, first I got the title and it bugged me because I didn't know what it meant or even why the name Alex had to have a hyphen between the AL and the EX, but once written down, the 'Alternative' and 'Existence' bit explained everything, and I decided to listen to whomever was putting ideas in my head and I wrote what I was told.
Having establised that Alex was the main character in a story about dreams and dream exploration and what can happen if, while exploring the dreamstate, you meddle in things you don't understand, I was then prompted to start building Alex's character, who he was, and why he should want to experiment to travel into another realm.
I won't say I wasn't a little reluctant. I was forever wondering how this story would develop and where it was leading. The thing that was most genuine about it all was my personal interest in dreams - I've always been interested in dreams - why we dream and why we only remember the tail-end of quite vivid dreams that appear like epic movies sometimes. I've often wondered also whether we do in fact travel to a completely different existence (alternative existence) while we sleep as though we're living both a waking and sleeping life. And I felt sure many folk have wondered similarly if we're really someone else (more spirit and flexible given the absurdness of dreams sometimes) and the subconscious is another extension of ourselves, brought alive while we sleep.
These can all seem like deep profound questions but the writing of The AL-EX Project ended up being a great deal of fun, and the story that enfolds has humour, romance, a little bit of science and a huge dollop of believeability, although it's all completely make-believe. It definitely has a thought-provoking premise. Even if I say so myself, I think it's an enjoyable read and one which poses questions that might not have dawned on you before.
So the first chapter became 18 chapters very quickly and I was on a roll. I even confessed to friends that I had a story rolling out of my subconscious, the plot of which I had no idea of until I started writing. And it was fascinating the more words poured out of me, down my fingers and through the keyboard. the more I seemed obsessed (or was that 'possessed'?). I feel I've written an adventure of sorts.
Spending many a night till early morning tapping away, developing the story and the characters, and loving every minute of it., my 'masterpeice' was complete and thus began my foray into the science fiction fantasy world. Of course it's not hardcore science fiction. Nor straighforward fantasy. There are no aliens or world invasion, no time travel (as such), no intergalactic battles to save the world or indeed unmentionable monsters. But a novel about dreams is still likely to be a bit out-of-the-ordinary, and I'm very pleased with the result. It has been described as very entertaining with additional humour. One of my reviews states:
"...If you have ever been curious about the power of the subconscious mind, how it works and how it plays a part in our dreams, this is the book for you. CM Donaldson is the author of a new way of seeing the existence of an alternate world in this story of a man who made his life’s work an investigation of the meanings of dreams and how they can serve him no matter how weird or impossible his visions became while in a dream state..."
Another reviewer remarks:
"...The subject of dream control is very intriguing and I imagine something that we all wonder about. Dreams have fascinated us since the beginning of time. Donaldson does an excellent job of mixing both the scientific and humanistic aspects of dreams. We are pulled into the dreams with Alex and it feels as if we are experiencing the dreams with him. The author’s descriptions of the dreams, the emotions produced are spot on. Donaldson’s writing was a dream. The words flowed with ease and the style was a breath of fresh air."
I started The AL-EX Project at Christmas and finished it by March. Less than a month after that I got inspiration for a sequel and I'm working on that now. It seemed a natural continuation of the AL-EX Project story, following Alex into another saga facing a different kind of danger, at the moment entitled Mind Reader. This, my friendly readers, I hope to have complete and published by early summer.
Where to find C.M. Donaldson online
Where to buy in print
VideosThe AL-EX Project (Alternative Existence) book trailer
This tells the story of Alex and his scientist mentor as they experiment to enter the dreamstate at will, recording the results and playing them back. They achieve more accurate dream interpretation and encountering unusual characters in Alex's dreams, but push the boundaries further, exploring this subconscious alternative existence to find answers to Alex's lifelong nightmare ordeal.
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