EXCERPT from GUILT, my latest novel featuring friends old and new . . .

Liza’s best friend, Hetty is back in this latest novel set in the world of Angel Avenue . . .

When I feel brave enough, I glance at her and she’s just staring at the ground, her lips pursed.

“Say something then.”

“Can’t. You told me not to react. I really thought it’d be the sock thing, but now you’ve told me, I understand why I’m not allowed to react. You may continue, by the way. Tell me everything.”

“You’re fucking impossible, you know that right?”

“That’s why I’m your mate, because you’re Mrs Possible. We balance one another out.”

I throw my head back, slapping my own face. “Woman.”

“I’m not reacting, remember? You’re talking.”

I take a deep breath. “I’ve known him a long time.”

“Okay.”

“He wants me to leave Gage.”

“And how long has this affair been going on?”

“Which part of it? The friendship part, or the actual fucking part?”

“The AF part.”

“I spent the night with him on Saturday. It was our first time.”

“Wow, you must be really cut up about it all to be telling me so soon.”

“I am.”

We find a bench and sit down. I check on Rupert who is still sound asleep. Hetty keeps rocking Elizabeth back and forth in her pram because she’s more likely to wake up wanting a feed.

“What was it like?” she asks. “The sex?”

I bite my lip and cover my mouth. Just the thought of it all is enough to make me blush.

“Wow, like that, eh?”

“He’s absolutely gorgeous, Het. Inside and out.”

“And he’s… you know?”

“What? Good in bed?”

“Yeah,” she says.

“He’s extremely good in bed. He makes me feel so good about myself.”

She inhales the cool, early spring air and exhales it even more dramatically. “Give it time, I say. A bit of time.”

“What do you mean?”

“If it’s meant to be, it’ll be Liz. However, if he’s one of those arty-farty types like most of your friends are, you could be just a passing whimsy to him and you know it.”

I look down at my lap. “It crossed my mind.”

“At the same time, perhaps you should seriously think about splitting from Gage if he’s not making you happy. You don’t have to leave one bloke for another, you know? You can leave Gage just because you want to, not because someone else has come a-knocking.”

“I agree. You’ve got a good point.”

“Has he got a big cock?” she asks, blurting it out. Thank god nobody is within earshot.

“HETTY!”

“I’ve been relatively well-behaved, but you can’t expect me to be good all the frickin’ time.”

I laugh and try to brush her off, but she’s waiting with bated breath.

“Yes, he has a big cock…”

She sits there wriggling her eyebrows up and down, then she folds her arms. When Elizabeth lets out a tiny grumble, Hetty has to start rocking her back and forth again. I’m glad Hetty’s at the mercy of someone else for once, it’s about bloody time. Mind you, motherhood suits her. She’s still Het, but she does seem a lot more content with herself.

“Well…” she says, sounding proud as punch that she’s not only embarrassed me today, but also made me say the word cock, too. “Joe tried it on recently, but I’m still not ready, down there. I’ve got to get my rocks off somehow, haven’t I? Can’t you tell me more about Lover Boy?”

“Hetty, you’re so bad. Shut up, will you? I’m telling you nothing. I’m protecting him.”

“Come on, just a little bit. Come on.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“As if you’ve only just discovered that.”

We snigger like piglets on our bench.

*END*

BLURB:

A highly thought-provoking tale of love, lust and deception . . .

Liza is married with two young children and seemingly has it all: a big house, a husband who provides, a great circle of friends, plus a job working for her best friend. The only problem is, it’s all built on lies.

A death in the family finally forces her to see the truth for herself, but the timing seems a little too convenient. It’s not escaped the notice of not only Liza, but also that of family friend Warrick, a former detective who has his own suspicions.

As the truth unravels, friendships are tested and Liza finds herself trapped beneath the weight of guilt. Life has thrown everything it’s got at her, and for such a young woman, it feels like a huge cross to bear.

Nothing will ever be the same again, but while the future promises the kind of happiness she only ever dreamt of before, it’s difficult to shake off the feeling that her escape from deceit came with a hidden cost . . .

* * *

AUTHOR NOTE: Liza was a minor character in the Angel Avenue series. No previous reading is required to be able to enjoy this standalone, although I highly recommend you read the other books too.

BUY LINKS:

ANGEL AVENUE

BEYOND ANGEL AVENUE

HETTY

GUILT

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An Excerpt from WORTH IT, Sub Rosa #5 . . .

Unveiling . . .

worth it

Excerpt

1997

I was leaving double maths and feeling fucking knackered one Friday afternoon, when a group of people dashed past me down the corridor, squealing with excitement.

I was not in the mood, not after double maths with the teacher from Hell.

Walking across the quadrangle, ready to go straight out of the school gates and head home, I got accosted by Dario who grabbed me by the scruff of my neck.

“Get your clown hands off me!”

“Come, on, come on! You’ve got to see this! Come on!”

He started running, to I knew not where, and eventually I realised what was going on.

Kayla and her group were rehearsing in the hall and everyone had decided it was a party. It was nearly Christmas but soon enough, the teachers would find out we were all down here, gawping up at Kayla and swaying together like it was New Year’s Eve. She was performing at the Christmas disco the following week and that’s why they’d let her have this stage to practice. They always let groups studying A level music perform each Christmas, but only the best—and it was the first time ever they’d let a rock group perform. That was just a sign of how good Kayla was.

“Right you fuckers, tell me what to sing next!”

I arrived during a break, so I had to wait to hear her sing.

“‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana,” shouted Dario, and I nearly kneed him in the cock.

Since we’d met three months ago, I’d got the distinct impression from Kay that seeing each other in that way was off the table and I figured there was a big reason why.

I didn’t like to ask. I didn’t even want to envisage it.

I had my suspicions, and that was all.

I mean… she needed protecting, right?

And she only wanted to protect herself.

Anyway, she quirked an eyebrow at Dario and talked to her band.

“All right,” she said, flicking the microphone wire behind her, “none of the band know that one cos they’re all boring twats so we’re gonna do ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. I know you all love it and so does a friend of mine.”

She avoided looking at me when she said it, but I knew it was aimed at me.

The growing crowd cheered, and she grinned.

Kayla threw a guitar over her shoulder and put her microphone in its holder.

The drummer counted them in and she strummed her first chords.

I watched as she played and sang, her voice gravelly when it needed to be, mimicking Bon Jovi. Her shoulders jigged to the music and she curled her lip, getting into the emotion of the song, her fingers masters over the guitar she was holding. Her facial expressions were evocative of the song, her soul a real rocker’s soul, even though her voice could be adapted, you could tell that from the way she could sing the higher notes.

I caught gooseflesh from my scalp to my toes. I’d never felt anything like this before—a wave of shock and awe sweeping through me, filling me with joy.

I knew I was watching someone very, very special.

She just happened to be my friend.

After the song, the band started right on with another Bon Jovi track, this time, ‘Bed of Roses’.

She took the stool behind the mic and put her guitar on the ground.

“This is for all you dirty fucks,” she said, her laugh rough and dirty, too.

I smiled wider than I’d ever smiled before.

She sang ‘Bed of Roses’ in what you could tell was her more natural voice and the powerful Jazz sound she produced caught the whole room up in a contemplative atmosphere.

Then at the choruses, she took to the floor and belted out her full range, shocking the room with her astounding standard.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to go grab her off stage and kiss her face off.

Instead, I just smiled.

And I smiled.

To say she’d told me time and time again that she didn’t like Bon Jovi (even though she knew I did), she sure did know the lyrics, probably better than I did.

After that she sang Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Stereophonics, stuff I knew Kayla wasn’t really into. Pantera, Megadeth and Metallica were more her kind of music, but Kayla knew that people wouldn’t be wanting that at a school disco.

The party got broken up and everything went quiet, everyone went their own ways.

Kayla and her people had to tidy up and I was in no state to be sociable.

I went home and hid in my bedroom, probably for the next three days.

***

Worth It (Sub Rosa #5) is available for pre-order, with a release date of DECEMBER 12th, 2017! Here are your links:

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AMAZON CA

AMAZON AUS

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If you want to start at the beginning, you can do, and for #FREE!! Unbind (Sub Rosa #1) currently costs 0.00p/c to download. Check for your links below:

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How I Wrote a Book in 20 Days: A Diary – Part Four (Final Part)

Please make sure you read parts one to three before reading this concluding part! You can find them by visiting sarahmichellelynch.com/blog and scrolling through.

Note: I only wrote diary entries on days where I actually completed some writing. There are only 20 entries in this diary but the twenty writing days were spread over the space of a month and a bit. This diary does not include my notes on editing (I don’t want to give away all my secrets!)

***

Day #14

Another chapter down. Would have liked to have written more today but I’ve had admin to do. Social media to catch up on. An event to prepare for. Fridays are always difficult days because you’re preparing for the weekend. Still, I’m gonna try get some bits and pieces of writing done tomorrow and Sunday. We’ll see anyway!!

Two major emotional breakthroughs were made in this chapter. Now I’m halfway, I can take this story down a deeper, much more direct route. I’m excited to get to the WOW moment in this book, where everything I set out to achieve becomes much more achievable.

Exciting times ahead…

Word count so far: 49,686 (I’m classing this as half done).

Day #15

I snatched moments of time today to write. I had this one idea I just had to get out in case I forgot it later. So I ignored the Saturday TV for an hour or so, and just did it. Half a chapter down. Not bad, considering it’s been a manic day.

Word count so far: 52,043

Day #16

It’s been Monday. Monday, bloody, Monday. Gah. The clocks have changed and it’s a bloody nightmare!

However, I am starting to taste the end of this book. I want to know what happens next as much as you, the reader will want to. I fear a race is on now. A race to the finish line, to explore all this book has to offer again, with the next stage of development – editing.

Some days you truly have used up your word count, that you have very little else to say at the end of it.

Word count so far: 56,856

Day #17

A really good writing day. I’ve turned some corners and extracted some secrets.

When I look back to the beginning of the story, it feels like a hundred years ago now. I’ve just got to make sure it continues to appear that way, reflecting the manner in which the heroine changes dramatically within this story.

I feel like I’m ever-drawing closer to the denouement.

Word count so far: 64,512

Day #18

It’s 11am and I’m not done for the day by a long shot, but I need to write this entry right now. This morning, this book made me cry for the first time, and that’s huge. Because I don’t always cry when I’m writing a book. But the pain and the poignancy of a particular scene had me flowing today. And I’m not the sort of person to cry easily. Only like really, really bad shit makes me cry, or people with sob stories singing on Britain’s Got Talent, but I think that’s because I love music as much as I love any art form that provokes an emotional response.

Up to now I’ve been writing with a sense of tension and it feels as though that’s broken finally, now I’ve written this difficult scene today. It’s finally broken and the heroine is free to move onto the next chapter. (I’m hoping so anyway, I’ve still got a few thousand words left to write.)

***

I wrote 5,000 words today and it wasn’t an effort; it was one of those rare instances of forgetting time exists and just going with the flow. Words just came and I’m stepping ever-closer to the end. This might even turn into one of those rare novels where less is so much more because I’ve said most of what I wanted to already, so whatever else comes next will be a big adieu.

Word count so far: 69,500

Day #19

I haven’t written yet today. It’s the morning. I’m just trying to muster up some energy right now to write some more. I’m feeling a bit puffed out.

I finished yesterday’s writing session with absolutely no idea or inclination as to how I would continue this story. Overnight some ideas have come to me and I’m fairly certain how I’m going to end the tale now. Sometimes you can feel as though nothing’s coming and when you go about your other business and take a few moments out, suddenly an idea will strike and you realise there is still more, even if the day before, ideas felt all used up. In the past I may have mistakenly forced ideas but this isn’t how I like to write anymore. Each day, I strive for new ideas and those make a story. The devil is in the detail. Having written so many books now, I’ve played with various forms of writing but sometimes simple is best. It just depends upon the character you’re conveying. I find it so difficult sometimes to not repeat myself, using a saying I’ve maybe used in a previous novel. The two main characters in this book, actually – resemble very closely two minor characters of a previous series I wrote a long time ago. But they were minor then, they’re major now, and function in a much different way in this book. I know some authors have strange family trees where all the characters they’ve ever written are somehow connected, even if that’s not evident to the reader. To the writer, they see those characters as part of a wider family, maybe because they are. They’re the author’s family in some respects. So even though it’s very difficult for me to keep my material fresh and new, it all is, and the more difficult it is for me to explore new avenues, I think the better my work is overall. I write for my own pleasure first and foremost which is how it should be. Don’t get me wrong it’s lovely when someone else likes what you’ve done, too. But the only person I’m ever competing against is myself and the past me has an awfully big back catalogue now. And that spurs me on greatly. I feel like these days, the engines are fully operational and ready to burn. It’s all those previous books that got me where I am now. It’s the books I’m writing now that will get me where I want to be. And I’ll have enjoyed every moment of getting to wherever it is I end up. Because I love writing and that’s what I was born to do. Write. It’s easy for me now, where it used to be hard. Because each book has broken me in and taught me something. And writing’s as easy as breathing now. It’s just the thought of it which is sometimes hard.

So now I’ve given myself this little pep talk (I am slightly deranged, comes with the territory), I will bloody well put the kettle on and settle down to some fictional writing once more. Until later…

(peaks and troughs, peaks and troughs…)

***

Wow, just look at that word count below. I can taste the end now.

Word count so far: 76120

Day #20

Wow, I wrote THE END today. I didn’t think I’d be writing that so soon. But I’m reminded that I decided to make this a new adult romance (or it shaped itself into a NA romance), which means readers in this genre generally prefer shorter reads anyway.

But, wait…

Editing has yet to take place. And editing will involve me going over the book six, seven, maybe even eight times. The way I edit is where the magic really happens.

Writing a book (as I’ve proven), is relatively easy when you know how. It’s what comes next that’s hard.

I know that throughout the editing process, I may add another 5 to 10,000 words or so. With one book (A Fine Pursuit), editing added 10 to 20,000 words in fact, because the story shot out of me so fast, I had to go over it plenty after the first draft, so it wasn’t a bony carcass anymore!

Still, I might comb it back again after the second draft.

Or add more?

But, dear reader, I won’t be telling you the secrets of my editing process. I don’t want to put myself out of business.

It’s been real.

Word count of my first (skeleton draft): 77,659

Afterword

The novel this WRITING DIARY relates to is called Hetty: An Angel Avenue Spin-Off. I am writing this afterword on the day of its release.

Hetty is a character I knew inside and out before I even put fingers to keys which is why this book was so easy in terms of development.

Sometimes, as a reader, I read books and I can tell when an author has taken a large timeout in the middle of writing their book because the style or the feel of the prose changes dramatically between one chapter and the next. Maybe that’s sometimes intentional. Maybe it’s because during time off from writing, the author has developed a different viewpoint of the story and it shows.

Writing a book in the space of a month is not something I recommend for everyone. It’s exhausting, it takes incredible discipline and an iron will. I do not manage to complete every story I write within 20 days, trust me! I know my limits. I stop when I need to. I take self care very seriously. I’m lucky that I can pick and choose my projects and my family are very supportive of what I do, both in giving me time and knowing what I need when I come away from writing a book.

What I hoped to show with this writing diary was the highs and lows a writer goes through, and the behind-the-scenes effort that no reader ever usually hears about. (The gory details so to speak.)

Hetty is my 17th novel and when someone recently asked me, “Doesn’t your heart just squeeze when you look at all you’ve achieved?” – I had to tell them, no! I am the long-distance writer with a 1,000 stories to tell and I cannot allow myself to wallow too long in saying goodbye to characters I have so lovingly created. I cannot allow myself to wrap myself up in the myriad emotions I go through while writing a story. To a certain extent, I do look back at my library of work and feel proud – feel blessed I’m doing this – but the books I put out into the world are but a physical representation of the stories I tell. I cannot always explain how a story I’ve written has made me feel (personally) because the feeling is like no other on earth and it’s obviously why I find storytelling so addictive. I know that each reader will bring their own set of life experiences with them when they’re reading a book, and I accept that’s why books engage (often) such different reactions from different readers. For instance, whenever I think back to writing my first novel, I think of changing nappies and my daughter’s big firsts. My first novel is wrapped up in everything that was going on in my own life at the time I was writing it – and the book on the shelf will never explain to readers about the night I was up late typing and the unfortunate effect of my footsteps squeaking on the stairs as I crept up, thus waking my daughter and setting up a chain of events that gave me a terrible, sleepless night. Real life goes on all around us and books are just… books. And yet… they have such potential to change people’s lives. I love, love, love what I do with every fibre of my being and anyone else who loves my books is an absolute and complete bonus.

I write, because, simply – I am a writer. I’m pretty happy with that label, even if I never achieve any other label.

The editing process brought Hetty up to a more rounded 90,000 words, one of the shortest novels I have ever written. After a bit of time away from the book (a bit of distance), I saw what needed embellishing. I didn’t want to over-write this tale, I only wanted to make sure that readers walked away from this book in no doubt of the person Hetty is and what she is capable of achieving. Getting her character right in this work was all that mattered to me. I didn’t water her down, edit out her quirks or her flaws, I kept them all in there. I wanted this woman to be real and from the sounds of it, that’s how my readers see her.

She’s real.

And that’s the most you can hope to achieve from writing – making tiny black letters on a page seem real. And the more real the story, the more satisfied you feel – and another job well done can be ticked off.

***PLEASE READ ON FOR AN EXCERPT OF HETTY AND HOW YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HER STORY***

I LEAVE THE car and him to get a good look at the place from a distance. He’s slept more or less the whole way here. I haven’t minded. Driving helps me switch off and vacate. This is just a stop in the road before reaching Robin Hood’s Bay but I always stop first, breathe in the air, taking in the place from a distance. One of the first places Liza and my foster parents brought me was here after they took me on. John and Carol have been really good to me, too good, considering I was once their daughter’s bully. But that’s Liza – always helping wounded birds, even ones that have tried to peck her in defence. John and Carol are in their sixties now and tried to conceive for years before finally having Liza in their early forties. She was an only child and had always wanted a sister. She persuaded them. And I was added to her broken-winged club.

The car door shuts and I watch him stretch, his midriff revealed as his shirt rides up. He’s got a solid rack of muscles under there – just gorgeous.

He swings his arms around me, clutching me tight, so tight I’m enveloped in his warmth against the cold of this high-topped cliff upon which we’re standing. I love the heather-topped moors around here, I love the views, the cleanness, the clarity – the mangled city jungle seeming far away.

He nuzzles my throat and kisses me, purring, seeking. A rush of love washes over me and I turn in his arms, throw my arms around his neck and kiss him. I find no resistance, his mouth opening, his tongue tangling with mine.

“I missed you,” he says, his eyes glistening against the strong wind.

“I was right next to you.”

“But I was in my dreams.”

“Do you like it?” I ask him, pointing to the sleepy fishing village below. There are not many visitors this time of year.

“What’s not to like?” he says.

I lead him back to the car and we head for The Grange, a place I usually stay, just a little way up from the village.

After parking up, we scope it out.

“Will they have any rooms?” he asks, and from the look of his face I can tell he’s never done this before. I expect any hotels he usually stays in have been booked by Warrick!

“Let’s hope so.”

We enter the reception and I spot Derek, the owner, who recognises me. “Henrietta, long time no see!”

Smiling, I return, “Been so busy, you know how it is. We’ve been gallivanting and wondered… maybe you might have a room for the night…?”

He holds his finger up. “Let me check.”

While Derek checks his computer, I grip Joe’s hand and smile. He smiles back, still a little sleepy.

“Ah, Marge had a cancellation last night. You’re in luck. The Grange Suite is available.”

“We’ll take it,” I snap, almost snapping his hand off too!

“Okay, it’s not ready…” He’s sucking his thumb, thinking as he peruses the screen. “But I’ve put you in, come back at four and it’s yours.”

“Do you need a deposit?”

He winks. “Not from a good customer.”

“Thank you, Derek. Thanks so much.”

He guffaws, a little shy. “No problem.”

I catch him giving Joe a little side glance but he doesn’t say anything, or question us. Leaving the property, Joe says, “He seems a little fond of you.”

“I stay here often, in the summer months.”

“What do you do when you’re here?”

We get back into my Citroen and I turn towards him. “I drive up to Whitby, fill my boots and then sleep it off here. A Sunday morning stroll on the beach is heaven, too.”

“I never would’ve pictured it,” he says, pulling me towards him, reaching across the handbrake to put his arms around me. “You seem so badass, and here you are, a lovely Yorkshire rose spending her weekends by a beach nobody’s even really heard of.”

I tug his hair gently in my hands, murmuring, “All the best people have heard of it, Joseph.”

It takes a few moments for me to realise my breaths are laboured and heavy. This is what he does to me.

“But it’s so quiet and quaint…” He looks bemused.

“In therapy I was taught to like my own company. I’ve got used to it.”

“Not too used to it, I hope?” He’s grinning devilishly.

“Scenery’s not too shabby from where I’m sitting,” I remark, trying to seize my own grin before it breaks my face, I feel so happy.

He cups my bottom lip with his and kisses me torturously slowly. The perpetual molten vat of lava in my lower stomach churns and I could curse that hotel for not having any rooms available right now. Joe moves his kisses to my cheeks and my neck.

“Save it for later…” I mumble.

“You smell divine, like honeysuckle or something.” He pulls back, searching my eyes, endlessly trying to figure me out.

“Come on, I’m hungry, you sexy beast.”

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

 

 

An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 3 days to go!

cameronExcerpt:-

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in hauntings, in the lingering insidious presence of something malignant. Spectres of endless doubt, old thoughts as oppressive as any vengeful wraith. I believe in parasites, prodding, cold and primal, stirring distant failures and shames that strike when the mind relaxes, or into nightmares that will wake you, febrile and slick with sweat.

All of these dark creatures are no more complicated than old memories, and I believe in them like I believe the earth is round.

I believe because I knew a bully.

My Bully.

He singled me out for reasons that were his own. I didn’t like the things he liked, and I liked things he did not. I didn’t look like he looked; I was thin, lean and pale, where he was pug-nosed, stout and peppered with freckles. I was clever, and he was not. That’s not a brag, or an indictment. I largely saw school as a means to an end, and worked, and even enjoyed it, whereas he saw it as an unfortunate mandate. He sat at the back of the few classes we shared, those that weren’t banded by ability, and he sniggered and railed against the simplest of tasks. That was when he sat at the back at all. Often he’d be relocated, or absent, or serving a period of exclusion for wrongs that didn’t involve me. His presence wasn’t pervasive, but when it was there, it was ever a threat.

He played a slow game, and his moves were often uncoordinated, without much forethought, simple lashings-out, like the first, where he struck from behind while I stood peeing at the trough and cracked my head against the wall’s peeling paint, stumbling, exposed, breaking my fall with a hand into the gully of warm amber and weak disinfectant.  I scrubbed for five minutes before I returned to class. Then it was verbal, insults that barbed my physicality, or lack thereof: the gangling frame, the hair too curly for his tastes, a tiny hereditary kink in the shape of my right ear lobe, unnoticeable until it’s noticed, then mined for meagre gold.

It was always there during PE.

The PE changing rooms were a twice-weekly hell, a timetabled trip to ten-minutes of judgment and punishment for crimes you couldn’t control. Who had muscles, who had hair? Whose puppy fat hadn’t yet hardened? Whose nipples were too big or too small? Who wore expensive underwear and whose came from the catalogue? Pushing, shoving, tweaking and whipping. Walls lined with awkward flesh changing outfits as quickly as possible, desperate to do it without being noticed.

Before the lesson, a crucible of scrutiny. After the session, a litany of faults. Backslapping for the winners, lambasting for the losers.

“You’re too dry,” My Bully said in the changing room one day. He crossed the room to tell me, leaning in suddenly. It was loud enough for a pocket of his cronies to hear, and they sneered and cackled like well-trained vultures. I pulled down my red tee-shirt quickly, exponentially more self-aware. Did he mean my skin? Did I have flakes and lesions on my back I’d never noticed? But he peeled away quickly and lumbered into the adjoining toilet area, positioning himself at the trough.

Too many possibilities went through my head. A repeat of being pushed against the wall while I peed, stumbling clumsily into the trough. Him thundering back through with a cup of his own piss to douse me with. Him finishing up and hauling me in and pushing my face down into the steel channel flowing with yellow froth. I hopped myself into my trainers as I left the room and followed my friends to the field for football . . .

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

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Pre-order the e-Book:

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Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

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Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 4 days to go!!

andy
Excerpt:-

lullaby

 

I remember the day you were sent to us.

Soft and etched with the strokes of heaven’s brush.

I remember when you first did open your eyes to the world.

My heart beats again to recall it.

My finger around yours.

Your soft hair against my cheeks.

That first wondrous sound you made, you called out to me.

Your mother.

My son.

Shush, now, beautiful boy.

I gathered you in my arms, whole.

Your senses were awakened for the first time, and I saw it.

I had to touch every single feature.

I blessed your nose, your ears, your mouth.

You yawned. The commonplace was divine.

You spoke in another language.

I was determined to understand every sound you made.

I warmed you, delicate and firm.

Time was irrelevant. It was wholly stretched out in front of us.

I sang to you, I know not what.

The song of all mothers. A soothing hum, a lilting melody.

Shush, now, my sweet angel.

Crying is good, tell me all your fears.

This world is endless. The darkness and light are there.

I will bend my knee and look at you. Hold my gaze.

Your eyes are drooping.

Let me speak to you of fairy tales, the dreamer’s passion.

Ride upon my shoulders and scream in delight to the heavens.

I will give you the sleep of peace.

You stand before me, taller and taller.

Asking me questions to which I have no response.

Go and seize the world.

All is ahead. My love will uphold you.

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

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Pre-order the e-Book:

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Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 5 days to go!

davidExcerpt:-

“Boys and girls. It gives me great pleasure to introduce a former student of mine to you. Alexander McCarron – Alex – is a successful businessman. His company keeps him very busy and he travels all over the country. But, he has come here today to speak to us about an important topic and I want you to give him your full attention.”

I took a swig of the water bottle in my hand and stepped out onto the stage. The room filled with polite clapping as I walked over to the podium, shook hands with the policeman and then with Mrs. Fraser. When I finally turned to face the crowd of people filling the small auditorium, I saw a sea of small faces looking back at me. I grinned, tilted the microphone up and then took one more long look around before I started to speak. As I had done dozens of times before in front of many corporate directors, I straightened my tie and the cuffs of my shirt. Then looked around the room again trying to decide where to start.

I chuckled. “My wife told me I should treat this morning as if I were talking to a group of corporate executives. But I am clearly overdressed today.” I paused while I removed my coat, folding it over a chair and then removing my tie. I pulled the microphone free and walked to the front of the stage. “As Mrs. Fraser said I came here today to talk to you about a very important topic. One that isn’t easy to talk about or even to think about sometimes. But that just makes it even more important to me.” I walked down the stairs. “If you will be patient with me, I want to tell you a story. It might take a while since my wife says I talk too much, but I hope you will listen.” I paused briefly as if giving them a chance to decide, then continued, “It’s a story of a young boy about the same age as some of you. This young boy was in the fifth grade and his father had just moved him and his older brother to a new town. You see his father was in the Army so they moved around a lot. And it was hard to make friends when you were always the new kid. They didn’t have a lot of money either, but the young boy was always dressed in clothes that were neat, clean, and looked they had been ironed that morning.

“From the first day this young boy showed up in school he had a look on his face. He always looked like he was mad at someone. And since he didn’t know anyone, it was assumed that he would be mean to everyone. As the days wore on he proved that he really could be mean to anyone and everyone. He didn’t just ignore the other kids – even those who tried to include him or be nice to him. He seemed to go out of his way to not be nice. Your teachers tell you about respecting others and being nice, but this boy didn’t respect anyone and he was rarely nice.

“We all remember the guidelines of being nice that we learn from our parents. Simple manners like holding the door, or saying please and thank you. This boy would close the door on other kids and he never said please or thank you. And when no one invited him to join in their sports games or just having fun, he seemed to get even meaner. He wasn’t a big kid, but he knew how to throw a punch. One that might not give you a black eye, but it would definitely take your breath away.

“He was always quick to pick a fight with someone, even the older kids if he thought he could win. I remember how he would wait in the park in the morning and if you happened to walk near, he would make you pay for it. And if you didn’t have lunch money then he would use his fists to remind you to have money the next time. There was one other boy whose family didn’t have a lot of money, but he was afraid of this boy so he started to make an extra sandwich or would just go hungry hoping food would be a good substitute for money. Some days it was, but most days he just got hit . . .

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

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Pre-order the e-Book:

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Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 6 days to go!

eljExcerpt:-

Sitting in the school hall, I fiddle with the ties on my dress, waiting for the rest of the classes to come in. The Year 6 children are last, and they’re allowed to sit on benches at the back of the hall—that will be me next year.

Assembly time is most definitely the most boring part of the school day… ask anyone. We have to walk in single file with our ‘silent voices’—which is ridiculous really, as it isn’t a voice at all if it’s silent, is it… someone ought to tell the teachers this—we have to sit in silence, and then we have to look at the front, and only the front, where our head teacher stands with her hands clasped in front of her.

I’m sitting next to Jack, a boy in my class. He was new just before we broke up for the holidays, so I don’t know him very well. I do, however, know that he smells a bit funny, like a sausage pan or something, so I try not to turn in his direction, just in case I get a whiff of him. Daisy, my best friend, is sitting next to me on the other side which is a bit of a treat really, as we’re not usually allowed to sit together because we talk too much.

Apparently.

I don’t actually agree, because I don’t talk very much to anyone at all. Daisy does all the talking. In fact, she talks to whomever she sits next to, not just me.

“Good morning, children.” Mrs Harris’ voice booms across the hall and makes me jump.

“Good morning, Mrs Harris, and good morning everybody.” The whole school choruses together in whiny, sing-song unison that makes me cringe every single morning.

“We have a visitor in our assembly this morning, who has come from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to talk to you about something very important.”

My interest is piqued momentarily as I hadn’t noticed the stranger sitting on the chair near the front, and I flick my eyes over to him to see if I can guess his name. It’s a game I like to play in my head. I’m usually quite good at it.

“So, I’d like you to sit up straight and give our visitor, David, a warm welcome.”

Damn. I thought it might have been Paul, or John.

Mrs H nods towards the stranger who smiles at her politely and gets up from his chair, walking slowly but animatedly to the front of the hall. He claps his hands in front of him and bends slightly at the waist, glaring at all of us with an almost manic grin plastered across his face. “Good morning, children. I’m David, and I would like to tell you a story.”

Well that’s just great.

Whole school stories are usually completely babyish and geared for the reception children, so when he starts with ‘once upon a time’ I pretty much switch off, and as time ticks along, I become increasingly anxious for the whole thing to be finished so that we can go out to play. My attention is jolted, though, when Daisy elbows me and whispers in my ear.

“Can you smell him from here? ‘Cause I can.”

I frown and look at her. “Who? David?”

“Burger Boy.”

“Who?”

“Jack… Burger Boy. He stinks of burgers all the time. Can you smell him?”

I glance towards Jack who is listening attentively to The Storyteller, and I discretely inhale deeply to see if I can actually smell him today.

“Not really.”

“Eurgh. Well I can, even from here. You must have a cold or something.”

“So… can anyone give me a definition of what they think bullying is?” David’s question has nearly the whole school sitting up straight, their hands shooting in the air and their hands flapping whilst they hyperventilate in an attempt to get his attention and answer the question. There is some lame sticker involved, or an ironically pointless house point, for the person who answers correctly.

“Yes. What’s your name?” He points to Jack. Burger boy…

“Jack.”

“Okay, Jack… go ahead.”

Jack looks down at his fingers that are entwined in his lap and lifts his huge eyes up to look at the visitor. “Well, it’s when someone is unkind to another person, but not just once. It’s when it happens over and over again by the same person, to the same person, making them feel sad, or hurt, or… worthless.” His voice is a little croaky, like when you first wake up and before you have had a chance to talk to anyone. I wonder if it’s the first time he has talked to anyone today… surely not.

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

btc-instagram-sized

Pre-order the e-Book:

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Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 7 days to go!

ha
Excerpt:-

“Detention, again, Justin? That’s…” I shuffled my notes on my untidy desk, hunting for the report handed to me not ten minutes earlier by the headmaster’s secretary. When I finally alighted on her perfect script written in neat lines of violet ink, I all but pounced on it, shaking the wisps of loose hair away from my eyes and scanning it quickly. “… Three times this week. Are you going for a record?”

The teenage boy on the other side of my desk shrugged nonchalantly. His lips were tight and his brow was knitted into a frown that never seemed to leave his face, giving away the fact that though his shrug may have appeared not to care, his eyes told a different story.

I hadn’t had the job for long. Fresh out of college, I was still in the phase of my working life when I believed I could help to change the world one mixed-up teenager at a time.

School counsellor. The title sounded so grand to my young ears, the nameplate on the door of my office giving me a high each time I passed it. This was my chance to prove that not all kids who acted out were lost causes. I would put the world to rights one day, and I would start with St. Bartholomew’s High School.

I hadn’t quite admitted to myself yet that my plans for world peace might not happen quite according to the schedule I’d set for myself. It turned out that teenagers were much more complicated than I’d realised. Case in point – Justin Baines. Fourteen years old, with a string of detentions, suspensions and even a couple of police warnings under his belt already. He was the one that kept eluding me, the one they warned you about in college with their “don’t get too involved” speeches and warnings against caring too much. Despite having spent my entire life being told what a great listener I was, somehow every one of those warnings had fallen on deaf ears. He’d got to me. Without even trying, the kid had me awake at night agonising over how to get through to him . . .

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

btc-instagram-sized

Pre-order the e-Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 8 days to go!

murielExcerpt:-

From the moment you are born to the moment you take your last breath, you are judged.

No matter your age, gender, sexual preferences or race people will talk about you in a negative way any chance they get.

That’s how it’s always been and that’s how it always will be.

It depends on how you choose to let it affect you that will make the difference.

For the most of your life, people will have negative things to say to you and for the most part, you will be oblivious to those talks. That’s the best case scenario. The problem starts when you are made aware of what was said. Either, by the person themselves or by someone else who was made aware of it. That can be the beginning of a lot of drama. Can you trust the person who reported it to you? Can you trust the person who’s been talking shit about you? Who to trust? You just have to deal with that reality.

What happens when people take things too far?

What happens when you take it too far?

Because let’s face it, sometimes you will be the one talking shit about someone. Don’t lie to yourself, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it at some point in our lives. I’m sure you’re doing it every single day watching your favorite TV show. We’re built that way. We all judge and that’s okay, as long as we don’t hurt others. You could just keep it to yourself but more often than not, it’s brought out in the daylight and that’s when shit is stirred.

Those judging looks you give a passer by in the street. Even though you don’t voice it, you’re still judging them and it can hurt as much as those words you could say. You’re still judging a living being and if that person sees it, sees that judging look, they can be affected by it in more ways than one. It can ruin someone’s day and make them feel shit about themselves and could send them down a dangerous path. You never know what someone has been or is going through.

Then there are people who aren’t afraid to voice their opinion to someone else’s face. That alone could be acceptable if it’s something constructive and not said in a way to hurt the person but to help them make themselves feel better. But what happens when they are being nasty about it, when they start picking at every single little detail that they don’t like about that certain person. There’s the physical abuse too. What will physically hurting someone bring you?

Emotional and physical abuse is not okay, in any way, shape or form. There’s no rights, only wrongs. People should love each other and not try to destroy each other.

Bullying is not just talking shit about someone and to their face. It’s a wide spread variety of different nasty ways used to make someone feel bad about themselves.

Bullying is deadly. It has been the cause of one too many suicides. It’s an ongoing battle that will sadly never stop. It affects and can affect anybody. Young or old; black or white; rich or poor; male or female; no one is safe from the sadistic mind of a bully.

For the most part, the bully has been bullied in the past and thinks it’s perfectly normal to do it back to someone else and replicates what they were put through in an effort to make themselves feel better. Other times the bully is just a twisted person who enjoys causing pain, whether it be physical or emotional, and watch others suffer.

I once was the victim of bullies. It dates back to twenty years ago and lasted only a couple of months, but it’s still affecting me to this day. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I have no tolerance for people’s bullshit and I’ll voice my opinion when such things happen. I’ve seen so many psychologists over the years that half of the ones in town probably know my story by now. It’s still as hard as it was back then to tell it all over again. Nobody likes to be put through the roughest time in their life all over again for someone else to listen to them, ask uncomfortable questions and get a pat on the back and hear it’ll be okay.

People affected by this kind of harassment need more than just a pat on the back. They need support and to actually know that people are there for them, to help them get over it and to get better.

It all started when I was six . . .

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

btc-instagram-sized

Pre-order the e-Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

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An Excerpt from Break The Cycle… 14 days to go!

sml
Excerpt:

“So he finally acknowledged something is wrong, but he didn’t suggest you should do anything about it?” My colleague Ruby is stood with me in the English office the morning after, scanning me for telltale signs of rage.

“He flat out said we should leave it until Joe is ready to tell us what’s going on.”

“Oh dear.” She reads my exasperation. “Listen… Jules. Joe is his son.”

I flash her my eyes. Has she forgotten about the things Joe and me have been through together? He’s as much my son as my twins are. I care about Joe just the same.

“Ruby.” I turn myself fully towards her, putting my cup of tea on the worktop, my hands free to make sweeping movements to enforce my passion on this. “It’s something in my gut, telling me there’s something wrong. I don’t know, but when it comes to kids, I just–”

She steps forward and holds my hand. “I know. You’re right back there, to the day you got battered and left all alone, in the dark. I know you want to protect him from the same things that happened to you.”

I focus on her eyes, which are watering. She feels my pain, even though she’s never had to deal with the same pain herself.

“Jules,” she whispers, softly stroking the back of my hand, “Joe is different. He’s Warrick’s son for a start and he’s definitely tougher than you imagine. I think Warrick’s right. I think he’ll tell you when the time’s right. He knows you’re there for him.”

“This is the thing,” I say fast, “he knows we’re here for him, and he’s still not telling us. He knows we’re not judgy, he knows that.”

“Give it another week, maybe?”

I throw my head back, groaning. “Torture.”

“One week.”

I smile wryly. “Rubes, you know how many cheesecakes I can eat in a week, right?”

“Unfortunately I do, and I also know that while you’ll maybe put on a pound, I’d put on a couple of stone comfort eating in the same manner as you.”

I pick my teacup off the counter, anticipating the bell for the first lesson, which I’m taking today.

“You and Rick had better have cheesecake for me at every fucking stop this week,” I grumble, and walk away.

As I take the corridor, I try to wriggle the anxiety out of my heavy shoulders and neck, but it’s not working.

Deep, deep, deep breaths, I remind myself, sucking in vital oxygen, trying to remember my breathing exercises of old.

Walking into a classroom full of kids, there’s suddenly nothing else to think about other than controlling thirty teenagers for the next two hours.

*

Dinnertime is no different today. Joe’s being quiet over his pasta and salad. Warrick’s knackered. The twins are lobbing pasta shells at one another and I’m focusing on the baked, New York-style cheesecake waiting for me in the fridge.

“Frrrr–” A sort of grumble erupts from me and the boys all look at me. I was going to say something mad like flipping tell me what is wrong Joe! but I guess, I stopped myself.

“Jules?”

“Something stuck in my throat,” I excuse myself, reaching for a glass of water.

Joe finishes his meal and excuses himself from the table before I can even think of another way to broach this. Once his son’s locked himself away upstairs, Warrick gives me a look and I say nothing. What is there to say?

I promised Ruby I would give this a week…

*Jules and Warrick feature in two of Sarah’s earlier novels but this is brand-new material.

*-*-*-*-*

Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.

btc-instagram-sized

Pre-order the e-Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.

bookcoverpreview-do