Catching Up . . .

Has 2020 been all about Covid? In a way, yes. In many ways, no.

For a lot of people it’s been about re-evaluating. It’s been a wake-up call.

Do I need to commute so far every day? Do I love this person I’m living with? What’s the point of continuing in this job I hate? Why am I putting up with so much outside of my control? I could go on… the list is endless. Everyone has been forced to stop and THINK.

2020 has been a shit year for many. There we are. In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “End of story. Goodbye. The End…”

But it hasn’t all been about Covid.

For instance, among my family and extended family three people are living with cancer at the moment. The worst moments of some people’s lives have taken place, all while Covid exists as an annoying accomplice in the background. Cancer hasn’t gone away. Nor have any of the other ailments killing people every day.

My husband’s work has changed completely. He’s adapted and is a podcaster now and wants to do a Masters for himself, because as he put it, “You just sometimes realise if you want to do something for yourself, you’ve got to do it now. There’s no time.”

We had a major financial scare at the beginning of this year. Suffice to say, there are some dodgy, dodgy companies out there… and they will still be doing what they do post-Covid, because some things never change.

I’ve heard numerous times from my daughter, the words, “I hate coronavirus!” All she sees is that she cannot meet her friends in the same way. She can’t stay over at Grandma’s. She couldn’t go to school. She hates seeing her parents in the scary masks and doesn’t understand why so many people are angry and impatient everywhere. And all the adults ever seem to talk about is fucking coronavirus. LOL.

I started writing a series of books last winter, almost a year ago now. I put fingers to keys to create the Bad Series well before any of this kicked off.

I wrote this series during some of the worst times of my life, but I worked SO HARD throughout to stick to the brief I set out a year ago – to write it as it was meant to be written from concept to completion. I oftentimes write my books real-time and that’s why more often than not, I write in first-person present tense because I want it to have the feel of “happening right now” – that you’re living the story alongside the characters. The epilogue of the Bad Series brings the characters right up to about now (2020 – the year which in future shall not be named). However, I am no way going to ever mention the C-word in any of my books. WHY? Because it doesn’t have a place. Not right now. Maybe not ever. The issues I chose to write about and have been detailing for ten years are, to me, much more prevalent, evergreen and pressing. Issues such as family, relationships, friendships, mental health, overcoming trauma, acceptance of one another and love.

If you want to discover what my post-natal brain conjured eight or nine years ago about the future (2023) then read my predictions in the Unity Series. If you’d like a window into what my highly sensitive nerve endings picked up on as being our future, Unity comes very close in a lot of (interpretational) ways. If there was a message in the Unity Series, it was to think for yourself. To not allow ourselves to be pushed apart. Broken, we can be divided; together, we’re unbreakable.

Fiction, as it turns out, is more important than ever. To me. To you. To the world. A safe space in which to translate and work through everything going on around us.

I know how lucky I am every day to be able to venture into my own private domain. To have the skill to be able to knit my concerns about the world within good stories. To have my safe space.

I recognise, now more than ever, there is pain out there which goes far beyond the virus and it is being squashed away because of this C-word thing going on and interrupting our lives.

Domestic abuse is up. Cancer patients are waiting. Many elderly are suffering because they simply cannot get out. They are missing that VITAL chance to be around the younger generation and feel connected to the world. People are telling themselves their suffering is small and therefore they aren’t going to the doctor with that ache or pain or lump they’d normally get checked out. And MONEY still isn’t being placed where it is needed most. And the WRONG sectors are benefiting from this crisis while the pre-existing and various struggles of millions are ongoing and far outweigh some people’s reluctance to don a mask.

And the very fine balance of people’s mental health is being tested like never before. Those of us who have never had a mental health issue – are wondering if it’s coming for us next. Because sometimes, some days, you just wake up and think, “What the fuck next…?”

For someone who processes events slowly, and then all at once, the next writings from me might be very interesting indeed.

Is 2020 a write-off?

I don’t know.

Personally, this year has taught me that I am there for a heck of a lot of people. And I will always be. But stepping back sometimes is something I have to do. Trying to save people is something I can’t accomplish. Even when I can see what they’re doing is causing damage only to themselves, I can’t step in. But maybe somebody reading one of my books might read it… and be moved to see things clearer than if someone in their lives had sat them down and told them.

For some, lockdown was their saviour. It was finally their chance to take stock. To catch up on sleep. No more boarding a flight every week. No more sardine-in-a-can train journeys. Time spent catching up with their partner and/or kids. Time to spruce up the house or driveway or back garden, or front – maybe all the above. Time to grow out your hair and/or nails. Time to breathe. Time to actually speak to your neighbour. A chance to buy local. A chance to sell local. A chance to be local.

If I’m anything to go by, let me tell you, one thing is for certain.

Post-2020, creativity is going to be UP!

Things are going to change, and it is going to hurt, but through the enormous amount of creativity that is coming – because nothing can come from nothing and who we are, the experiences we’ve had and the hearts we own are everything – we can be together.

Watch this space…

Review Opportunities and Our Poetry Project

There’s still time to join my latest charity project – a poetry anthology. Please join me over on Facebook to learn more, or you can email me for all the details. I am looking for poems, but there’s no minimum or maximum word count, you just have to write something inspired by our cover art! I’ve had some great contributions so far . . . and there’s more to come! Submissions are open until January 31st – please let me know if you have something but it’s going to be late.

I’m galvanising my social networks this year, after a very busy writing year in 2018. This includes opening up review opportunities. If you’d like to read one of my books for free in exchange for an honest review, just fill out this form. I also have a reader group on Facebook where you can gather to discuss what you’ve read in a closed environment!

Similarly, if you’ve read and enjoyed one of my books lately and just haven’t got around to reviewing yet, why not pop some stars and a line or two of review on Amazon or Goodreads? If possible, tag me so that I know you’ve reviewed!

I’m currently working on a few NEW things, but predominantly I plan to release at least one thriller and my first poetry book this year!

Watch this space x

Autumn and Other Things

483c0dc1ddc26f93d3952375b208c964How has this happened? How is it autumn already? I asked myself this when I looked at the calendar this morning. Life seems very busy and rushing by at the speed of light right now. It was yesterday when I was selling stuff at a car boot sale that my husband said, “You’re really good at selling.” I had to take a moment to think about that. Yes, I may have only been selling tat, but evidently I can sell tat! Anyway, what is one man’s junk may well be another’s treasure.

We say it every year, but this year it seems more true than any other: the past few months have zoomed by. I find myself sitting here wondering what I have achieved in the past nine months. So instead of thinking, “Oh god, no, it’s already October and I haven’t done half the things I wanted to do this year…” I have instead decided to think about the things I have achieved. Like for instance, selling loads of tat at yesterday’s car boot sale – result! I also sold our house this year – result! I’ve lost count of the amount of books I’ve published this year and the amount I’ve currently got in the queue to write. I think the point is, it is just so easy to let time pass you by without reflecting on your achievements and progress. Many of us have probably looked at the calendar this morning and thought, “Oh, god,” while many others – like me – are reminded October is our favourite month, even if it does bring us closer to the dreaded C word. LOL. (CHRISTMAS!)

It’s so important to reflect and to acknowledge all the little things we do on a daily basis as achievements in themselves. There are still three months of this year left and maybe the ground work we lay down earlier in the year will soon bear fruit. Even though I have got a lot going on right now, both personally and professionally, I will try to take time for myself and stop awhile to admire the beauty all around. After a summer I couldn’t wait to be shot of (too hot and sticky!), I felt a little sad with the onset of the cooler weather, but only because I’d wished the summer away, dreaming of that cooler weather. It’s a paradox, I know! It feels like I’ve experienced a little bit of lost time this year – and I am sure I am not the only one.

Anyway, my response to my husband when he said I’m good at marketing is that I must have picked it up since becoming an author. I have learnt a lot from publishing books, possibly more than I have from any other career… The broad range of skills you develop, the all-rounder you have to become … it is a never-ending learning curve, it really is. Being an author isn’t just sitting on your bum writing, it involves so much else, and for that I am thankful. So as we pass into this thankful phase of the year, I will keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be doing something with my life so challenging, yet so fulfilling.

With all this in mind, I thought I’d let you know what I have coming up in the next few months:

  • Leticia, a vampire novella, publishing around Halloween
  • Deadly Virtues, a collection of poetry – TBC
  • The Awoken, a YA science fiction novel – TBC
  • Illicit (working title) – TBC
  • Panacea – TBC
  • Assassin – TBC

There’s a lot to be thankful for!

Sarah x

SURPRISE NEW RELEASE

 

WOTWS

***99 pennies for the first 24 hours of release, or #FREE in #KindleUnlimited***

pablo (6)

BLURB . . .

Laura is a bestselling crime novelist, but she hasn’t written anything new in years and her frustrations are making her rethink everything—including her marriage.

She isn’t getting what she wants from her husband Tom, so she decides to create her very own fantasy man—a perfect sexual partner, but also someone she can confide in.

Perhaps switching genre may help her combat writer’s block, but during the writing process, it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction and the secrets plaguing her marriage threaten to bring her whole life crashing down around her.

On the page her fantasies run wild, but how can she apply them to real life? Or in real life, do her fantasies make her a bad person for wanting MORE?

In this plot-driven, challenging romance, Laura finds herself questioning whether the problem lies with her.

Is she asking too much?

The truth is, nothing is what it seems in this story.

Nothing.

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Universal Link

Happy reading!

S x

 

WOTWS full

 

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:

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

AMAZON CA

AMAZON AUS

Lutz teaser 1

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:

unbind freebie

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ITunes

B&N

Kobo

It’s Okay To Say “No”

Saying “No” Is a Sign of Intelligence

I read something a long while ago about an experiment involving people handed cakes and chocolate non-stop and the test was to see whether they kept saying yes, or eventually said no. After all, we don’t need all the cake and all the chocolate in one day. Moderation is the key, right?

The experiment showed that the more intelligent people either said no from the outset or eventually said no once they were full. For some reason, this example popped into my head this week and it got me also thinking about some of the Oxford University techniques implemented during the application process. Half the time the examiners are testing whether you’ll do something without question. If you do something without thinking it through or without a moment’s hesitation (just because someone said to do it), it could be a sign of low intelligence. What do you think?

I hear and see so much discontent around me some days and I think to myself, “Why don’t you just say no?”

There are many situations where it’s difficult to say no:-

  • You’re full from dinner but the waiter is giving you the eye as if to say that you having more drinks and puddings makes him look better with the boss. He looks so hopeless, you can’t say no.
  • Your mother-in-law keeps putting out plates of biscuits with the tea and coffee and somehow, you feel impolite not partaking.
  • Your boyfriend wants you to go with him to a game, but it’s really not your thing. If you say no though, he might go crazy with his friends, go out on the lash and forget you even exist. You’ll receive a text three days later to say he’s finally got sober and he needs you to pick him up from some gutter somewhere.
  • Someone asks for a favour and this person has done you a favour in the past. You know it’ll be difficult to carry out because you’ve already got a lot on your plate and what they want you to do is something you’d charge other people for, but somehow you selflessly work through the night to carry out the favour and it turns out, your friend didn’t need your help after all. Shout at them, or mooch on and hang your head for half a day? What do you do when they ask again, even though you feel bad about saying no?
  • This one is my favourite: You have a horrible relative and you’re asked to spend time in the same room as them. Ignore your better judgement (and that of many people who agree that the person in question is hard work) and be in the same room while biting your tongue, or say NO and avoid that period of time spent in their company which is a waste of your time and existence. I say I’d rather spend time being happy, than making other people happy. WE HAVE A CHOICE.

Life is short. Lately, with everything going on in the world and so much negativity in the media, it seems that life is getting shorter and shorter. None of us truly know how much time we have on this planet or in this life.

Sometimes I feel an urge to write, an itch I cannot ignore, and this is one of those times when I cannot ignore writing out something which seems very simple to me, but to others – difficult or challenging. Maybe it’s because I was once there, and the process of me finally saying no to something which made me unhappy changed me forever, and now I don’t hesitate in saying, “no”.

To explain, one of the main reasons I am a writer is that growing up, I chewed through books like you can’t imagine and the reason was – I was searching for answers. I wanted education. I wanted to hear about what life had on offer and I wanted to make my own informed decisions about life. In the end, I learnt that the only way to learn (really and truly) is to live life. However, reading helps. It gives you perspective. It gives you a broader sense of the world and other people’s lives. Reading can also give you escapism from a current predicament. I had it brought to my attention recently that some women read romantic fiction to have their faith restored in men, after going through bad relationships. Maybe while they’re single and healing, fiction can be that salve during a process of reflection and help someone figure out where they want to go and how they can take themselves forward.

I would never describe myself as a “romantic” author because I write the truth in all my books. I always question whether my characters would act like this or that in real life and sometimes, I spend days considering whether they would. Sometimes I have readers mailing me to say the characters are pissing them off, and I smile secretly, because people in real life do things to piss you off. I don’t write fiction to create perfect characters who do everything they should. I write them to spark something in a reader, hopefully a thought that might help them see things from a different perspective and change their life.

In my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than someone failing and getting back up, admitting they were wrong and doing it better next time. There is nothing more romantic than a true love conquering all, and remaining intact despite all the hurt and the pain. This is real, this is life. Life is painful but also beautiful and one thing you never see in the mass media are stories of ordinary, backwater people leading quiet, purposeful lives, bringing cheer to all those around them, bringing life and love to everybody they know. Sometimes you walk into a person’s home and everything about them seems ordinary until they start to recount an extraordinary story of achievement they rarely brag about. It just happened, and they humbly explain that it happened. There are silent heroes out there everywhere and it’s why this world hasn’t yet exploded into World War Three. There are people doing good deeds all over the place – and some of them never ask for any reward but a tiny bit of recognition.

I learnt to say no a long time ago. I won’t be bullied by anybody to think or do what they want me to do. I’ll break the rules. I’ll say no or I’ll gently say, “Maybe next time.” In this modern world of ours, we’ve got too wrapped up in thinking that opportunity is at our feet and it’s something we have to dive into without any thought for ourselves or what we – ourselves – really want. Know your own limits, it’s the best advice I could ever give you, and be content with your own limits and accept the things which make you happy, and ignore the things that really give you no comfort or peace whatsoever.

Maybe if you’re in an unhappy place in life, write a list of all the things you wish you could say no to, and a list of all the things you wish you could say yes to. I bet if you start saying no more, you will be able to say yes more frequently to the things you really want to do. There is no trap in life except your own mind, and sometimes, our parameters don’t shift with time and they need to constantly do that. Everyone is in charge of their own fate.

I do think it is important to mention, however… that some of us do experience real anxiety over saying no. Some of us imagine the worst possible scenario of what saying no could conclude in. Such as the breakdown of a relationship, or getting into debt, losing your job or… the list of situations some people have on their ‘absolute avoidance’ pile is endless. But think of why you’re saying no in the first place… and aren’t you saying no because to say yes would make you unhappy? And the whole point of life is to be happy, so why do you keep saying yes to unhappiness? We’ve all been there and life transformations can be very painful.

Someone myself and my husband follow is Jack Canfield and his success principles. I think this sums up everything I’m trying to say here:-

“Most of us avoid telling the truth because it’s uncomfortable. We’re afraid of the consequences—making others feel uncomfortable, hurting their feelings, or risking their anger. And yet, when we don’t tell the truth, and others don’t tell us the truth, we can’t deal with matters from a basis in reality. We’ve all heard the phrase that “the truth will set you free.” And it will. The truth allows us to be free to deal with the way things are, not the way we imagine them to be or hope them to be or might manipulate them to be with our lies. The truth also frees up our energy. It takes energy to withhold the truth, keep a secret, or keep up an act.”
Jack Canfield, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Time is precious and there is no harm in occasionally saying “no”, or “maybe next time.” It’s a sign of intelligence, of you weighing up all your options, and choosing a different one. It’s knowing who you are… and going in the direction that will make you the best person you can possibly be. Rather than dedicate all your energies to avoiding the truth, and covering it up with numberous band aids, plough all your energies into getting what you want. If you’re in a bad job, make your new job finding that new job. If you’re in a relationship where you know you’d be better off alone… seriously… there’s not even a yes or no answer to that.

Life is so short. Forget the bullshit… and just be happy. Toss off your self-made prison and the truth will set you free. It really will.

Forget what everyone is saying on social media, and think for yourself. It’s a clever thing to do and when you love yourself, people will love you too.

 

Sub Rosa Series – Special Deals

FREE UNBIND

 

THE NO.1 EROTIC THRILLER IS FREE TO DOWNLOAD

We should chase away from what we’re scared of, right? Run as fast as we can. Yet some of us seem to veer toward chaos and destruction…

Chloe sees anguish and despair lurking beneath the surface of Cai Matthews, the dark and dangerously handsome freelance photographer she meets on her first day in a new job. She can’t see straight in his presence—blinded by a blistering sexual attraction that has the potential to sweep her clean off her feet.

When Cai disappears from the workplace and doesn’t come back, Chloe tries to find out more about his life but all she knows is he’s set to inherit a ton of money and his aunt runs one of the most famous fashion magazines in the world.

Cai is running from a complicated past he doesn’t like talking about. Gossip columns rage with speculation concerning him and his aunt, who took guardianship of Cai after his parents died.

Conscientious journalist Chloe has a mind for details and once she gains access to his world, Cai realises she could undo every, single dirty little secret that he and his aunt have tried desperately to cover up.

BOOK TWO UNFURL…

unfurl

new UNFURL3

I’ll stab you in the heart.
I’m coming for you.
No secret dies.
But you will.

In the concluding part of Chloe and Cai’s tale of frantic, tempestuous, meaningful love…

When news breaks that enigmatic magazine editor Jennifer Matthews is dead, it irks Chloe that Cai refuses to shed even one tear. What she doesn’t know is that he was expecting it, perhaps even, hoping for it.

In this dark, romantic tale of revenge, Cai explodes the deepest, most destructive aspects of his past as he comes to terms with the tragedy at the heart of Jennifer’s downfall. With Chloe’s love and support, he must brave his demons and dodge death to finally end a bitter feud between two damaged families.

**This book is not intended to stand alone and is the second in a three-part series, concluding in UNLEASH – Kayla Tate’s story.**

BOOK THREE UNLEASH

KAY (4)Have you ever fallen for the wrong person – knowing they’re not the one for you?

For Kayla Tate, pain and disappointment are all she has ever known when it comes to love. Is it that she never learned from her mistakes? Or is there a ghost from her past she’s yet to lay to rest?

Kayla embarks on a journey during which harsh lessons will be learned and relationships will be tested. It seems to centre around the Sub Rosa mystery, but where will she begin to unpick the threads? All she knows is that something doesn’t add up . . .

Kayla’s heartbreaking story is about lifelong friendships, taking chances and finding that one person who’s willing to risk it all with you – at exactly the right time.

DOM DIARIES – A COMPANION NOVEL

domdiariesThe Sub Rosa Trilogy uncovered the dark secrets beneath the lies. But what about the story beyond the mystery?

In this companion novel, TV presenter turned magazine editor Carl Sorensen has his say in these diaries chronicling his journey from a lost soul betrayed by all the women he loves – to a true, dedicated dom determined to lead a better life.

His uncensored confessions reveal all the dirty secrets that eventually put him on the same path as the woman who would become his wife.

Ultimately, what makes a dom and more importantly, WHO makes a dom?

Be prepared to have your belief system shaken up all over again.

Visit Sarah’s books on AMAZON

LEEDS AUTHOR EVENT 2016

Let me first start by saying that the run-up to this event was an exhausting ordeal in itself (for me and no doubt many others, including the organisers).

For more than a month prior to the signing I was running a blog tour. Every day I featured a different writer (most signing at Leeds, some not). The blog tour meant quickly collecting everyone’s words and putting them into blog posts vaguely resembling the same sort of format! That was time out of my own routine, as was formatting the blogs into what became a special paperback produced in honour of this signing.

adv

View the tour

Buy the paperback

 Was it tiring? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes.

With busy periods in your life comes the slump afterwards when you’re left wondering – what next? In quick succession, I recently finished a novel. Finished the blog tour. Edited someone’s memoirs for them. Then prepared for a book signing. It’s all been a total mind fuck.

In the run-up to a signing, your finger constantly hovers over the re-order button on all the sites you’ve bought books, bookmarks, posters and merchandise from. You’re in a perpetual state of thinking, Have I bought enough? Have I done enough? It is absolute madness. You get to the point where you become at one with everything and if you haven’t got it, tough shit.

12799119_10207812299800822_6887259271262818445_n

So, the run-up to these things is crazy. The day itself is crazy. The aftermath is like venturing to Hell’s Mouth and teetering on the edge for days on end. I’ve been sat here sort of laughing and cackling to myself, randomly recalling moments I’d almost forgotten about. Hubby sits next to me with a wry smile, just knowing I’m running it all through my head again and storing it in the long-term data banks.

Last year when I did my first signing in Peterborough, I could barely stomach my breakfast. This year I managed a few things for breakfast because I knew what to expect and I was glad I had some food in me because it was non-stop all day long. I barely had time to breathe, I don’t think anyone did. I must have dropped about half a stone in one day from nervous excitement, the air-con and generally having to concentrate and sound lucid! LOL.

12798937_815608868567548_4783742268040935235_n

On Saturday there were few moments to stop and think and it’s why the aftermath is always so bittersweet. These events are so treasured and so overwhelming that afterwards, you wish you had done this, that or the other. All I can comfort myself with is the fact that there will be more signings. Here’s just a few of the things (however) which particularly made Leeds special for me (these might not come to me in the same order of the day’s timeline):

  • I was placed in a Ham and James-Marlow sandwich. Otherwise known as sitting between Lisa Fulham and the delectable duo Victoria L James and Francesca Marlow. I like to think of James-Marlow as being like a delightful salad relish with a dash of bourbon! It was great to be able to sneak a glance at what was going on at the tables around me. Victoria’s mum holding a glass of wine… a very LARGE glass I may add. Go on my love! Victoria was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience, as were many other debut signers. Nothing quite compares to your first time and realising that actually, yes, people really do love your work. For every troll out there wanting to pull you down, there are dozens of people clambering to get a piece of you – people who love reading and totally get what self-published authors are trying to do. Indie books have more of the soul, less of the polish that strips out what makes each author individual, and I love that. I think many people do. As for Lisa “Manchester” Fulham, I only have to look over at her and smile and we just know what the other is thinking!
  • Dented bottles! Yes, I became obsessed with a dented wine bottle after I partook of one glass of wine during the signing. I think it went straight to my head…! 😉
  • “They Say I’m Doing Well” was a huge hit, the charity anthology I led, alongside 28 other authors. It was wonderful to see so many people holding their copies and trying to get them signed by all the authors in attendance who’d participated. Like I say, in the run-up to this signing I’d been pedal to the metal with this project but the messages from people who really got what this blog tour/book were all about really made it all so worthwhile. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to do what I do. In my day job, I help people get published. It’s a dream. I will always consider this a privilege. It’s special. It’s not even work for me. For people to congratulate me on standing up for mental illness seems bizarre. It’s something I feel necessary to do, not even that, but a natural urge. It’s not brave, but normal, to talk about things. That’s all. And yet the interest I am getting in this project is gathering pace on a daily basis. I am not kidding you!!!!
  • NooNoo’s shaking on the dancefloor. She really can drop to the floor as well!! Louise White is my favourite blogger. She rocks. Despite the broken zip, well… you had THE GLOVES so it didn’t matter. I hold you responsible for me writing Tainted Lovers because you mentioned there weren’t enough novels around about married couples…
  • Seeing Rachel and Jo, the Hourglass ladies, tear up as they were presented with a card and presents at the end of the day was like watching all their tension slide away in one fell swoop as they suddenly realised “we did good”. It was amazing. Pats on the back darlings. We’re one crazy group of authors. I never doubted Jo and Rach for a moment.
  • Having authors like Charming Man and Anna-Maria Anthanasiou, EJ Shortall, Lavinia Urban, Rebecca Sherwin, Cameron Lincoln (I know your real name, I know your name – sang to the Casino Royale theme tune) and so many others know your face. It’s truly a bizarre thing to be recognised.
  • The whole day felt nicely spread out and nobody had to wait for too long, everyone had a great spread of visitors to their table. I remember looking over at Scarlett Flame and Neil Winnington who were both loving it. I couldn’t take my eyes off Scarlett’s steampunk outfit (HA HA, Scarlett).
  • The BAD, BAD, BAD Dad dancing at the masquerade ball. IT WAS BAD. LOL.
  • Rachel falling over in her huge ball dress. It had to happen and it did. Shame nobody had their phone out at the time.
  • Victoria L James break dancing in a pretty red dress. I’m sure I was seeing things!

However, the moment of the day has to be this:

My husband (who was in and out all day) was walking in through the hotel’s revolving doors when he overheard two women stood outside, deep in conversation. He overheard, “EL James is okay, but the thing about Sarah Michelle Lynch is you can actually relate to her characters.”

My husband’s gob was smacked big style. I don’t think I can convey how proud he is of me on a normal day, let alone that day. I actually thought he was kidding me when he told me this. He waited until after the signing to tell me. I thought he was lying. I thought it was just a joke. IT WASN’T. *sniggers* When it sank in, I had a little cry and he reminded me of all the stuff he constantly reminds me of that keeps me going. Somehow, I am reaching people. I think of myself as like the Reliant Robin of social media management but obviously I’m not doing too badly! LOL. (I still think my husband is lying!!!)

My thanks go to Rachel Hague, my “date” for the ball. Your stamina astounded me. You got round every single table. I will forever remember you as the first person to hit my table at my very first signing last year. We ❤ Lottie.

Thanks to Michaela – she bought so many books! Girl loves her some books.

EJ Shortall – it shocked and awed me when you said you read AA before you became an author yourself. Just wow.

My thanks also go to everyone aforementioned, as well as each and every author who participated in “They Say I’m Doing Well” – and for Jo and Rach supporting the idea.

Thanks to everyone who came to my table, new or old readers or general enquirers, you are all appreciated. I think I sold a fair few copies of the Sub Rosa trilogy to some mature ladies who have still got it in them. Wa-hey. That rocked my world. I sell quite a few ebooks every month but in one day on Saturday, I sold dozens of paperbacks which doesn’t often happen and left me made up.

As for what’s next? I am DYING to get back to writing, which I haven’t done much of so far this year. However, at this moment in time, I really do think it might be time to put my feet up a moment and reflect, digest and bask in the warm glow of such a great day.

I do however have a new notebook…

Much love,

Sarah x

p.s. if you got some pics with me on the day, tag me in them because I barely got a sausage 😥

*Now Live in Paperback*

THEY SAY“They Say I’m Doing Well” is a collection of blogs about overall mental health and it has now become a paperback. 29 authors came together, uniting in the hope of discussing matters often brushed under the carpet. In the process the book is supporting Mind, the UK mental health charity championing improvements to mental health services across the country. £1 from every copy will be donated to Mind.

From poetry to short stories, first-hand experiences to monologues and matters of the heart, “They Say I’m Doing Well” aims to reassure others they are not alone. You can read everybody’s words on this blog for FREE: www.sarahmichellelynch.net/blog

Words have the power to change lives; to educate and nurture, to help bring people together. The authors have put their hearts and souls into this project. Issues tackled include post-natal depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, stress, eating disorders, the strains of coping with physical illness, overcoming cancer, domestic abuse and suicide.

adv

You can reach the authors who contributed to the project by clicking through these links: Alexandra North, Amelia J Hunter, Andie M Long, Anna-Maria Athanasiou, Audrina Lane, Blake Rivers, Carrie Elks, Charlotte Hart, Claire C Riley, David E Gordon, EJ Shortall, Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, Francesca Marlow, Glenn Haigh, Grace Harper, HA Robinson, Hemmie Martin, Lavinia Urban, Lisa Fulham, Mandy Gibson, Muriel Garcia, Rachel Hague, Rebecca Sherwin, Sarah Michelle Lynch, Scarlett Flame, Stevie Turner, SJ Warner, T A McKay and Victoria L James.

To buy the paperback and support Mind, follow these BUY LINKS:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1523952636

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1523952636/

Or to support our project with more than a £1 donation, visit our Just Giving page to give a little more: https://www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Lynch16 – your donation goes direct to the Mind charity.

Thank you x

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #29 – Stevie Turner

blog banner1

Look on the Bright Side of Life

Late October 2015, and the year is dying. As I step out along the country lanes and scuff up the dry, withered leaves, I cannot help but focus on my own possible demise. Once again there are two enlarged lymph nodes where enlarged lymph nodes shouldn’t be, despite one thyroidectomy, two neck dissections, and four treatments of radioactive iodine. The possible implications start to play havoc with my mind. I start to think about arranging my funeral and sorting out my affairs. I change my bank accounts to joint ones, and try not to sink into a deep depression.

They say papillary thyroid cancer is a ‘good’ cancer. This had been told to me 10 years previously with just the right amount of bonhomie by a rather fortunate medic who had no idea what it would be like to suffer personally from an advanced stage 4 variety. The disease is slow-growing but relentless in its efforts to take over the body. Silent battles have been valiantly fought over many years with a clever, elusive enemy. However, casualties are now mounting at an alarming pace; the voice is croaky, the neck is stiff and painful, the eyes are dry at night and watery during the day, the thyroxine-induced palpitations are increasing along with bone thinning, and slowly but surely my vitality and joie-de-vivre is dissipating, along with the heat of the summer.

At the age of 47 I had only suffered from the odd cold or sore throat, and had been into hospital just to have my 2 babies. This was to change somewhat drastically with my cancer diagnosis in June 2005, initially mis-diagnosed as a multi-nodular goitre by a radiologist stuffed full of his own self-importance. I suddenly found that many doctors wanted to be in my personal space, although luckily I’ve been unconscious for the more serious intrusions. Their jovial bedside manner and tendency to understate matters is irritating; why not speak the facts as they stand and let the patient be informed of what is going to happen to them? I was never told that radioactive iodine could cause narrowing of the eyes’ tear ducts; I had to look up the information for myself after I was brushed off as having blepharitis and told to wash my eyes with baby shampoo! I eventually needed to be in another surgeon’s personal space as he repaired the tear duct in my left eye in 2009. The same surgeon repaired the right eye seven years later.

However, I am still here after 10 years of fighting. Metastatic thyroid cells invaded my lungs early on with the intention of finishing me off, but as yet I have no symptoms from the secondary lung cancer, which does not seem to grow. I take my daily constitutional walks around my village, inhaling the country air and mentally sticking up a middle finger at my foe. I’ve even purchased a bicycle, and relish the fact that I can still pedal out along the narrow roads and feel the breeze on my face. If villagers pass the time of day with me and ask why my voice is croaky, I tell them I have caught a cold. I must be known locally as ‘Germy’! I avoid pity like the plague; all I’ve ever wanted to be is ‘normal’, the same as everybody else.

What is ‘normal’? Everybody in this life at some time or another has a cross to bear. There is no point in bleating ‘Why me?’ The answer is ‘Well, why not?’ Why should I be singled out for a trouble-free life? Bad luck affects us all in different ways. With me it’s thyroid cancer, but others can be worse off in their misfortune. Life is not a bed of roses, and we have to deal with the lot we have been given. This is where I am fortunate because twice in my life thyroid cancer, strangely enough, has worked in my favour.

The first time my dark cloud had a silver lining was after the initial thyroidectomy operation in 2005. One vocal cord was permanently paralysed during the procedure, and I was left with a whisper of a voice for many months. At the time I was working as a grade 2 clerk in a busy hospital, and could no longer answer the phone or speak to patients and relatives who came up to the desk. I was re-deployed and promoted to a grade 3 assistant medical secretary, typing clinic letters only, rising to a grade 4 secretary when a semblance of a voice had returned and it was proved that I could do the work. Seeing as it was a medical secretary’s post I had been after when I initially joined the hospital’s staff in 2002, my dream had at last come true. I did not possess the qualifications initially to apply for a secretary’s post, and had originally been turned down countless times when I had applied for job vacancies. Thyroid cancer had stepped in and given me what I wanted!

The second time it worked in my favour was in October 2014 when after a period of 7 years’ remission, the cancer returned. I needed a right neck dissection, and the procedure caused my voice to disappear again, no doubt because of the trauma of intubation. I was by then 57 years old, suffering more with the effects of the various operations I had had, and I decided to take early retirement on grounds of sickness and disability. I had had enough trying to hold down a job in-between undergoing procedures. My oncologist put up a good case for me, and I was granted my pension. I am now free to do the thing I have always wanted to do all my life – write novels!

To date I have written 8 novels and 4 novellas, and am currently working on a book of short stories. I am having a ball while I suffer the effects of my cancer treatment. I have my own little space in our lounge, where I sit and let my creative instincts take over and banish thoughts of death and disease from my mind. Sometimes I even forget to start cooking dinner, so lost am I in the twists and turns of my plots. My husband is kindness personified, and is only too happy to see me enjoying what life I have left. I sell my stories on Amazon to supplement my pension, and to date have sold over 1000 books.

The waiting is one of the worst things about this disease. First you wait for surgery, and then you wait for a diagnosis. Following treatment you wait to see if it has been successful, if it hasn’t then you must wait for more treatment. If your thyroxine dose is incorrect, then you wait 6 weeks for a blood test after taking an increased or reduced dose, because a new strength of thyroxine takes 6 weeks work properly. I have spent 11 years as a lady-in-waiting.

What length of life do I have left? Who knows? It’s as long as a piece of string. It could be 30 years, or it could be 3. I have exhausted two of the treatments, surgery and radioactive iodine, but still have two more to go before the doctors hang up their white coats and walk out the door. The third treatment is external beam radiotherapy, with its drastic side-effects and possible hospitalisation for an eventual inability to swallow. The fourth and final treatment is a new drug on the market, which also has many side-effects. Apart from surgery and radioactive iodine I have also had four sessions of healing with a world-renowned spiritual healer. God alone knows if it was the surgery or the healing which helped, but my latest scan results at the end of January 2016 showed no evidence of any thyroid cancer cells in my neck, and the two enlarged lymph nodes that could be seen in October 2015 had shrunk. They say I’m doing well, and therefore I hope to be around for many more years to come.

What lies ahead? None of us know, and perhaps it’s better that way. Not a single one of us gets out of this life alive. My own father died of cancer at the age of 49, and without the interventions I’ve had my life would have been similarly shortened. He never knew my two sons, and I would never have met my four grandchildren, which fill my life in a way only grandchildren can, if I had not had the treatment I’ve had. Every day is a bonus for me now, and I’m making the most of life while I can. I’ve just been upgraded from 3-monthly follow ups to 6-monthly, so don’t worry about me, I’m doing very well!

Stevie Turner © 2016

author bio

I began my writing career as far back as 1969, when I won an inter-schools’ writing competition after submitting a well-thumbed and hastily scribbled essay entitled ‘My Pet’. A love of words and writing short stories and poems has carried on all throughout my life, but it is only now in middle age that I’ve started writing novels full-time and taking this author business seriously.

I have just published my second short story ‘The Noise Effect’ and a tenth novel ‘The Donor’ will be published on 26th December 2015. My novels are realistic, but tend to shy away from the mainstream somewhat and focus on the darker side of relationships. However, you’ll find I do like to add in a little bit of humour along the way. In January 2015 my third novel ‘A House Without Windows’ won the Goodreads’ eBookMiner Book of the Month Competition, and was chosen as a medal winner in the New Apple Book Awards 2014 Suspense/Thriller category. Also in late 2015 it won a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.

I have also recently branched out into the world of audio books. Two audio books ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’ and ‘A House Without Windows’ are available for purchase, and the rest are currently in production and will become available in 2016.

So here I am in the late summer of my life, and the words are tumbling out of my head. Living for more than a few years has given me plenty of subject matter to write about, and I look forward to sharing quite a lot of it with you.


DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Stevie!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

giveaway

Stevie is giving away FIVE audible.co.uk codes for her humorous audiobook The Pilates Class. Comment on this blog post to show your interest!!!

1796500_10207420106396232_8487826909674314424_n