“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #22 – Glenn Haigh

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Dedicated to the memory of my friend Deborah Elwood, died 2003, aged 24. A beautiful mind.

I hear it all the time. I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing it. “You’re doing so well, Glenn.” It always feels like I’m around 9 years of age and having my cheeks painfully pulled or my hair annoyingly ruffled by an ancient aunt I haven’t seen for a very long time, and who smells of mothballs.

Maybe ‘sick to the back teeth’ is very unappreciative of me, and a tad on the harsh side. I mean, after all they only care, don’t they? If they didn’t care they wouldn’t say it, would they? Or more to the point, if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t even give me a second thought to be able to make the assessment in the first place.

The thing is I’m not unappreciative, not in the slightest. I’m scared. In fact scrap that. I’m more than that even. I’m utterly petrified, is what I am. I couldn’t be more fearful if I was jumping out of a plane into shark infested waters with T-bone steaks strapped to me. In fact that’s what it feels like when they say it, like I’m free falling from an aircraft towards impending doom. The responsibility of doing well cripples me. I wish I was superman, and then maybe I could carry the compliment on my shoulders as if it were as light as a feather instead of as heavy as a tower block. I’m not superman, though, and I can’t carry it with ease. You see, I was never meant to do this well. How could I have been? My mum was 15 when she fell pregnant. I’m from the wrong sides of the tracks. I have dyslexia. I was bullied at school. All things considered I’m not meant to be the head of an 11-strong teaching team. Surely not?

Middle Management isn’t meant to be my middle name. At least this is what I grew up thinking anyway. Sitting at the back of set 4 English, in my half-mast trousers and with my in-desperate-need-of-a-wash mullet hairdo, I could never have imagined I would reach these dizzy heights. And boy, do I feel dizzy, like all of the time. It’s the panic that does it. The absolute 100% prime beef fear that someone will find me out and kick me back down the ranks to where I belong, to languish in the gutter and have people step over me as they climb to the top. I imagine it will happen one day. The day of doom is inevitable. Everyone gets found out in the end, don’t you watch the soaps? “Aren’t you doing well,” they’ll say. Then there will be the deathly silent pause, where they turn what they have said over in their head. The will latch on, the dots will join. They will gasp in recognition and fly out a finger at me as if readying to shoot me with it. “How did that happen? How could it happen? There’s been a mistake,” they will add, their eyes will narrow in accusation. “You’ve stepped out of rank, boy. Get back to the bottom level this instance,” they will demand.

What would I tell my mum, my sisters and my friends? All those people who have watched me claw my way up to the middle of the management ladder, how disappointed they would be to watch me lose my hold, and see my fingertips slip. Would they be there to break my fall, or would they laugh and say it was about time I was brought down a peg or two?

The thing is my success is good for my bank balance but it’s not good for my mental health. I wake up in cold sweats, forgetting parts of the journey; the sixteen year old who left school with four GCSE’s all grade F. Was there a journey? Did I actually take some alternative qualifications? Did I take my Math’s and English GCSE in sixth form the year before I went to university, like I have said I did on every application I’ve filled out since? Or did I lie? Is it possible to go from F’s to B’s in such a short space of time? What if I lied? Will I be found out? I’ll be ruined.

My mind races and it leaves my sweaty, clammy body behind. I try to catch it but it’s not easy, it runs away like a bolting horse with hoofs pounding the ground. Then I realise. I’m no fraud. I give myself a pep talk. “You’re doing well,” I tell myself. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve beaten all the odds, fair and square, not dodged and tricked them. I pat myself on the back. I give myself a little clap. I bow before myself in my full length mirror on the hall wall. Then I vow that the next time they say I’m doing well, I’ll reply with a nod, a smile and a, “Thank you.” I definitely won’t say “I know,” though, how rude and arrogant would that be?

author bio

Glenn Haigh lives in Leeds where he was born in 1978.

As a teenager he struggled at school with undiagnosed learning difficulties that led to him to be perceived as being unable and unwilling to learn. Adding to his struggles was the fact he was ‘different’ to other boys. In 1994 he left school with four below par GCSEs.

Three years later, having refused to give up on himself, he had achieved the qualifications needed for him to go to university where he gained a 2:1 degree. For five years after this he enjoyed losing himself in the tourism industry spending much of this time overseas.

In 2006 he qualified as a secondary school teacher and has been teaching ever since. He’s immensely proud to have been able to help many young people secure places at university- some that in his day would have been considered of non-university caliber just like him.

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Thank you so much for taking part Glenn!

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

12674482_10156463296100357_1172465294_n<<<<<Glenn is giving away a signed paperback of this book. All you have to do is visit his Facebook Page here, give it a like and post on his wall “Sarah sent me”. Good luck!

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#TeaserTuesday and Some New Reviews…

A series about real issues, with a little bit of mystery, intrigue, shock and delight all thrown into the mix…

Some recent reviews of Angel Avenue:

 

Compelling read:

I found this book compelling, I wanted to read more about the intricacies of the main characters lives. The detail to attention is amazing and I really could picture the area and characters.

Jules and Warrick are both complex people with troubled pasts, a chance meeting could be the saviour of them both or it could spell disaster.

This story is about heartbreak and loss, the need for human connection and physical closeness. It’s a beautiful story.

Jules has not had an easy life but she is surviving and getting on with her life, the love and loss of a man leaves her broken and she finds herself spending her Saturdays searching and craving for some physical contact, just a hug will do. Warrick spots Jules and watches her every Saturday and finally decides to see if she is ok? A friendship develops that has the potential to go further but both of their pasts and secrets hold these two back. The story takes twists that you wouldn’t expect but it flows so well.

I’m looking forward to reading Beyond Angel Avenue and where the author will take the story of Jules and Warrick.

I Loved This Book:

I loved this book. A love story that took a slow meandering path with a few unexpected twists and turns that left me wanting to shout at the author. I enjoyed the way the characters got to know each other’s flaws…..Warts and all.

I Was Personally Touched:

Lets see where exactly to begin. It would be easier to tell you what I will not say…like tell you about the characters and what happens. Hey! That takes all the fun out of you reading the book right? Right!

I will suggest you have a box of tissues near by, you may find you need them. Just sayin’.

I really want to thank Book Bub for letting me know about bargains available from Amazon. The choices certainly have allowed me to learn about authors I would not have known. Kinda reminds me of the days of going through the bargain books at different stores. Just to see and always walking away with at least four books. Sorry got a little side tracked here but it was because of this that I learned of this book.

Yes it is a romance novel but no where near what you would think one would be like. This was more like the slice of two people’s lives that come together that are really great for each other but they have so many wounds and ghosts some of them causes a lot of pain and time to work through.

We all have some of these skeletons in our closets some we have buried so deep we think that we have dealt with them but in actuality we have not. For me the story struck close to home, sometimes too close. But there is also a cleansing that can happen as well.

I feel the Sarah has taken some very tough issues and worked them through her characters that not only brought them to life but made them a part of me In my humble opinion, it would be difficult for one to walk away from this book and not be changed from it.

Released one week from today, Beyond Angel Avenue:

View the early reviews…

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27477733-beyond-angel-avenue

I was lucky enough to read this book straight after Angel Avenue, I’m so glad the author decided to conclude the story. There was so much more depth to these characters than I first thought. I loved the first book but this just blew me away.
The story follows on directly from Angel Avenue and we see how Jules and Warrick deal with the next chapter of their life. However the ghosts from their pasts are still haunting them and in order to find closure they have to take some risks that might make or break them. They are dragged into situations that puts their life in danger and have no idea who they can trust.
The continuing story of Warrick and Jules is beautifully told. I was gripped and compelled by the story and the characters. A truly amazing series that will stay with me forever.

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Buy Angel Avenue:

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Pre-order Beyond Angel Avenue:

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19 days to go…

With 19 days to go until this book’s release… here’s a little snippet of BEYOND ANGEL AVENUE, an emotive, devastating tale. A sequel to Angel Avenue, this book delves into the archives, revealing why a hug meant so much to Jules when she first met Warrick Jones all those years ago…

Prologue

 

fac841f0ca653d0da35a9f773eb1bb8cJulianne, aged five, danced for her mother, some TV show blaring in the background. It was the Christmas holidays and they’d cleared a big space in the living room. Julianne’s father slept upstairs. Recently sacked from his job, he was constantly moody and irritable. Lorraine, the little girl’s mother, didn’t want her husband to know she was teaching Julianne to dance. She didn’t think he would understand. She also knew he might get jealous. Julianne’s one Christmas present was her first set of ballet slippers. While all the other boys and girls had piles of presents under the tree, this mother and daughter shared a gift beyond most people’s wildest dreams.

“Julie, no telling Daddy,” Lorraine would often say, and Jules would tap her index finger against her nose.

In her second year of school, Julianne would turn six in February but they didn’t have money for dance lessons so Lorraine taught her daughter at home.

“Extend, my pretty, oh that’s beautiful, that’s wonderful,” Lorraine exclaimed as Julianne – still so young – already demonstrated natural-born ability. “Have fun, move as you wish.”

Julianne pranced and giggled, swishing and swooping, her mother such a good teacher that she encouraged freedom of expression as well as discipline.

“First position Julianne, good.” The little girl raised her arm and held the back of the sofa to steady herself. “Plie, my darling, oh yes, keep your back… oh perfect, you don’t even need me to say.”

It was clear how much strength the little girl already had in her core. She had muscle definition, even for one so young. Lorraine had been teaching Julianne since she was three and a half.

They heard creaking upstairs, signifying Julianne’s father was getting up.

“Quick baby, let’s put the room back.”

They returned the sofa against the wall and put the coffee table back in the middle of the main floor space. They sat on the sofa and Lorraine grabbed some Value crisps for them to sit and eat, making it look like they’d been doing nothing but veging out in front of the TV.

“Where’s my tea?” Julian Simonovich asked gruffly, falling heavily into his armchair.

Without a word, Lorraine stood up and went to the kitchen.

Julianne stared at the TV, not looking at her father.

When Lorraine returned to the room with tea and toast for Julian, she told him, “We’re going out for the groceries, alright?” Her voice carried little affection.

“Get me some more of them pop tarts,” he grumbled, “fucking hate scabby toast.”

For your munchies, more like, thought Lorraine.

“We can hardly afford bread let alone overpriced junk,” Lorraine countered.

“So get another job. It’s not my fault I got sacked.”

Lorraine bit her tongue. It was his fault, but he was looking for anyone else to blame it on.

“I can’t. What about Julie? Who will get her to school and pick her up?”

He grunted. He was barely out of bed before ten everyday and he would no doubt forget to pick his daughter up. Besides, Lorraine didn’t trust him to look after Julianne. Lorraine would do anything to keep her daughter safe. Anything. Working as a receptionist for six hours a day was all she could manage and she didn’t want to put upon Julie’s grandmother, who was a bitter woman with a bias for her son. A pub job in the evening would mean leaving her child with Julian and Lorraine didn’t trust him not to go out and leave her all alone. She wouldn’t have put it past him. In the last year everything had changed for the worse and Lorraine was worried about the future.

“Let’s go, Julie,” Lorraine ordered, helping the girl on with her coat and boots.

They left the house, trundling down the hill towards the centre of town and the shops. In Frozen Foods, they picked up all the bargains on the £1 shelves and Lorraine submitted to Julian’s demand for pop tarts.

“Why are you sad, Mummy?”

“I’m not sad.”

“You are. Why don’t you dance with me? Why don’t you want Daddy to know I dance?”

Avoiding Julianne’s eyes, Lorraine explained, “A demon lives in Daddy. It makes him say and do and want bad things. Dancing is a good thing, yes?”

“Yes,” Julianne nodded, happily.

“He might try to take away anything good from us. We must keep all our good locked away, so he can’t steal it. That’s why I put your dance fund under the floor, honey.”

“Oh.”

Lorraine was saving up a few pounds each week so that Jules could go to dance school when she was older. For now, most of her hopes and dreams seemed so far off – but she had great ambition for Julianne, her second chance.

“Can we go to the park?” asked Julianne.

“Okay, but it’ll be very snowy!!”

“That’s okay, I want to build a snowman.”

“Okay.”

Lorraine sat on a bench with the shopping at her feet, chilling it on the ground. Julianne pranced and rolled in the snow, giggling her head off.

“Show me how to dance the snow angel dance, Mummy! Show me, show me!”

“No, darling, no.”

“Pleeeeassse!”

Lorraine stood and wobbled on her feet. “No, Julianne. No. Let’s go home.”

The child held her mother’s hand on the way home but she was shaking and trembling, in fear of her mother suddenly.

“I’m sorry, Julie, but I had my love of dance stolen from me. I never fulfilled my promise darling.” Bitter tears gathered but didn’t fall from Lorraine’s eyes.

They arrived home to an empty house and Lorraine grumbled to herself. Julian had no doubt gone out for his fix. While he was gone, Julianne suggested, “I’ll dance again to cheer you up?”

“No, no, darling, it’s okay. I don’t want you straining your little legs. We’ve tired you enough today. Why don’t we just do each other’s hair, hmm?”

“I like doing your hair, Mummy.”

Julianne brushed out her mother’s hair, which fell to her waist. The little girl tried to plait it but wasn’t quite skilled enough yet and by the end, she was making more knots than anything. Then Lorraine skilfully plaited Julianne’s hair into a French braid.

“You’re my beautiful mummy,” Julianne exclaimed out of the blue, and Lorraine squeezed her daughter tight, feeling richer for having a daughter’s love.

Lorraine would never leave her daughter to that foul man.

But for some reason, she did…

**END**

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Catching Up with the Joneses – for fans of Angel Avenue

Recently I re-read one of my own novels (oh the vanity!!!). It was quite nice actually, and because of the distance I’ve put between myself and this novel now, I was reading it as if from a new reader’s perspective (almost).

Angel Avenue was a novel I wrote in a rush of affection and nostalgia for young love and the city I went to university in and still live nearby. In the novel, Angel Avenue, I never state the setting is Hull. I guess I wanted you, the reader, to envisage the world of this novel as any place – anywhere. I never state the main, bustling avenue Jules and Warrick live on and around is Angel Avenue, because there is no such thing as Angel Avenue. There’s Newland Avenue in Hull – and many of the other sites I’ve described in the novel are real, too. You can go visit them! How glamorous, eh? The title Angel Avenue was suggested to me by my husband Andrew. The original title was Losing Laurie and the book originally was centred around the idea of this woman, Jules, transferring the loss of her mother to a man who did the dirty on her. Like a mourner who goes to their loved one’s grave on a specific day of the week, maybe every day, Jules returns to the spot she met Laurie. I think it is difficult to understand Jules’ psychology but the moral of this book, Angel Avenue, is hidden very carefully within the pages. I focused on etching the characters and the build-up of real love (not teenage or lust-fuelled love) but actual, long-lasting love.

angel avenue collageWarrick is a man given a second chance at life and since he washed himself clean of all his vices, he’s not taken them up again. There’s a splice between innocence and experience in this book – and it’s experience which redeems Warrick – because he saves Jules. A teacher, she in turn gets a new reputation for herself at school for being a cool, ballerina/dancer chick, and when the kids find out Jules and Warrick are together – they trust him too. And thus, a paedophile ring and a traumatic case of bullying are uncovered in this novel. Therefore, ANGEL AVENUE this is, because wouldn’t we love such difficult problems to be solved so easily in real life, eh? Jules’ life was fucked up by her parent’s addictions and she triumphs professionally, yet falls down personally.

I read recently that it takes a hard heart to write a tender novel and this is so true of me and this novel, Angel Avenue. This novel was a terrific salve for me after finishing the gruelling and brain-taxing novels A Fine Profession and A Fine Pursuit. Perhaps I recently re-read Angel Avenue because I needed some salve again!

Anyway, after doing my re-read, a scene came to me which I wrote a few weeks ago now. In the actual novel, which I will never add to or subtract from because it’s exactly how Jules and Warrick told their tale to me at the time, we have an epilogue from Warrick’s POV. But not one from Jules.

What follows now is an epilogue from Jules’ POV. You’re now catching up with the Joneses a few years after they met, as they navigate married and family life. If you haven’t read the novel, you might not want to read this extra/extended epilogue. However, I don’t think this will spoil your enjoyment of Angel Avenue too much if you do decide to go back and read the main novel. After all, it’s the way they fall in love that counts.

When we first had the twins, I was frightened to death of dropping one of them. I was terrified of all sorts and I relied on Warrick for everything. I only know how to be a parent because of him, because I never really had a parent of my own, not one I remember well enough anyway. Everything before my eighth birthday, I’ve blocked out, because that was when Mum was alive and I don’t allow myself to remember how happy I was before she was stolen from me.

To read the full epilogue, click the link below…

Put the kettle on, kick your feet up, and revisit my favourite fictional couple. Well, no I can’t say that, because they stand alongside Cai and Chloe, Lottie and Noah, Seraph and Ryken (and a few others I can’t tell you about yet…)

Just…. enjoy! 😉

DOWLOAD: Jules’ epilogue

Purchase Angel Avenue in paperback or eBook:

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Contemporary romance #FREE to download – excerpt

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**CLICK COVER TO DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!**

EXCERPT:

When I wake and realise it was a cruel dream, I ache inside. I find I am drooling on his chest and I retract my hold on him immediately. It’s early but I roll away and let myself out of bed. I look back on him and see he’s still fast asleep so I leave him there and head to the bathroom, where I look in the mirror and see my cheeks are crimson.

I douse my face in cold water but nothing is helping to rid myself of this heat all over my body. Instead, I walk to the kitchen and down a tumbler full of cold water. I still feel as hot as hell. When I walk by the bed and see his chest uncovered by the duvet, I stare at what is before me. Yes, I admit, he’s a man I want and I want him more than anything else in the entire world. He makes me feel safer than I have ever felt before in my entire life.

Phew. Getting that out there with myself is a relief.

When he rolls over and pulls the blanket up around himself, I watch the expressions he makes in his sleep. His nose twitches and he grunts. A smile falls across my lips and I don’t feel too bad then. It’s just the same old Warrick, growling and snoring. One of my secret behaviours these days is to smell his pillow when he’s not here.

I sit at my desk and do the only thing that will occupy my mind ‒ marking. I congratulate myself that if I do it now, I shall have the rest of the day to relax.

When I get bored after the first batch are done, I get up and head to the kitchen to brew a pot of tea. I fill two cups and put one by his bedside.

He hears the stamp of the mug and his eyes twitch open.

“Tea for you.”

I turn and sit at my desk and place my own cup down. I try to keep working but the mirror of my desk/dressing table is reflecting his image. He sits up and stares.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just marking. Is that a crime?”

“You seem odd.”

“All normal then.”

I hear him take a big sip and he puts the cup back down and rolls over to stretch, but the duvet shifts with him. In the mirror I see the whole length of the back of his body, on show.

He’s tight. No hair where there shouldn’t be any. Muscles in his shoulders and arse, thighs and arms. I am falling for him and his body is an added bonus. Christ! If only I can get my act together and stop being a cock tease.

Next thing I know, he leaps up to dash to the loo and I watch his body as he walks. My eyes peel wide open.

He returns and openly sups from his mug, standing there in only his boxers still. I fight every impulse to look and I end up just randomly ticking every page of the books I am marking!

“I have a thing today.”

“What thing?”

“My voluntary work. You know, the thing I dragged you to that time.”

“Ah, rule me out then.”

“I promised Joe I would drop in for Sunday lunch too. I do that about once a month.”

“Fine.”

I don’t know why he’s fishing for my approval. He pulls on his jeans and a vest he must have been wearing beneath the mustard jumper yesterday.

“I’ll just go then?” he huffs.

I turn in my chair to face him, and bite my pen.

“What’s wrong?”

He shakes his wild hair out and his eyes look manic.

“Guess I just feel a bit like I am getting the brush-off here.”

“Look, I woke early. I often do if I have had an early night.”

He hops on his feet and I stare him out, refusing to get as irate as him.

“Stay. Make yourself breakfast. Watch telly. This is just my life, you know. I mark all the time.”

He sits on the edge of the bed and drinks the rest of the tea.

“Have you had breakfast yet?”

“No,” I murmur, making random ticks still.

“What do you want then?”

“There’s eggs. I like mine poached.”

“More tea?”

“Yep.” I hand him my now empty mug.

He calls me for breakfast soon later and we eat at the tiny table, which he has laid properly and garnished with a flower from my bouquet of carnations in the kitchen.

I seat myself, though still in my nightdress and robe. I chomp through the food in my usual fashion and I see him watching me. He wants to know whether he outdid my day with Laurie.

I am not going to tell him that he most certainly did, nor in being here for breakfast and doing it all himself, he’s winning by miles.

“I have a favour to ask.”

“Yeah?” he cheers.

“We go on a half-term dash to Bruges every autumn, me and the girls. Betsy and Ruby. They’ve pulled out this year because, well, they hate me now I have implemented all the changes that Dickhead Jack imposed on us.”

“That’s sad,” he remarks.

“Ah, it doesn’t matter. I don’t work there to be liked. Look, anyway, I booked mine and can’t get a refund. My cabin was booked, you know, ages ago. It was a two for one thing, so if you want to come, you’ll go free but it’ll be with me, in a tiny cabin, for two whole nights. Otherwise I will be going alone. I mean, I don’t mind,” I swing my fork around, looking anywhere, “but I thought, well, you seem stressed from work and it would be free… for you. Seems a waste.”

“When?”

“Friday next week? Sails late afternoon.”

He chomps down on some egg and toast and consults with his memory.

“I will have to do some begging but I don’t see why not. Just means I might have to work overtime in the evenings next week.”

“Oh, don’t put yourself out. It’s not essential.”

I toss off my disappointment.

“I’ll come,” he smiles.

“You will?”

“Course,” he replies.

He stands and collects the plates. I hear him washing up while I finish my marking.

When he comes back into the bedroom, he’s dressed and ready to leave. A hand drops on my shoulder and he kisses my cheek.

“I’ll text.”

I grab his hand and halt him, “Thank you, for yesterday.”

I know I am blushing. I hate myself.

He smiles and the next thing I know, he’s out of the door and then the building. I miss him already. I’m falling heart-screamingly in love with him. That dream is going to be the undoing of me!