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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😥

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

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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!!!

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #28 – David E Gordon

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My alarm goes off, yet again, for the third time this morning. I have already pressed the snooze two times and I know that I have to get up. I have work today and people are counting on me, or so they say. With a deep sigh, I let my eyes adjust in the early morning dawn light. I rub at them hoping it will help me focus, but the darkness seems to push in from all sides. The silence of my apartment is all around me, so thick that it feels like a heavy weight is sitting on my chest.

Slowly, I turn and let my legs hang from the side of the bed, my feet not quite touching the floor.

I rise up and steady myself against the wall just a mere six inches away. My apartment is small and the too-big bed takes up a lot of room. I had thought about leaving it with her and getting a smaller one, but, I just couldn’t handle the idea that she would be using our bed with him. I lower my head, my chin resting against my chest as the tears begin to fall. I sit back down on the bed as the sobs fill my very being.

After several long minutes, I draw in a deep breath and several short ones hoping to settle myself. It doesn’t take much these days to get me bawling my eyes out. I guess in some ways she was my safety net. What was it she had said? “This is too much for me. You are a wonderful man, but not knowing what I will find when I come home is… just too much.” I didn’t blame her. Some days, I didn’t know what I would find in the morning when I woke up either.

I get up again and slowly drag myself into the bathroom to get a shower and get ready for the day. Some days it can take quite a while for me to get ready, so I usually start earlier than I need to. After my shower, shaving, and brushing my teeth, I walk back into the bedroom to get dressed. One of the things my doctor has suggested is that I pick out clothes the night before and force myself to accept them, to not change my selection. Today the navy blue slacks and plain white shirt fit my mood.

I walk down the short hallway to the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. The smell of the fresh brew reminds me of days when I cherished my first cup. Now, it is just one more chore that I have to muddle through. My doctor told me that doing these types of small chores consistently would help me return to my old self. While I wait for the coffee I check my cell phone. No texts and the handful of emails are of the upcoming weekend sales. No party or night out invites for me. Nothing for me to do or read here. Just nothing.

I sit down heavily in one of the two chairs at the small café-sized table. Some days I just can’t see the future at all, like the winter dawn barely breaking outside of my windows. It all seems very dark. I can feel myself slipping back and closing my eyes, try to reach for the ledge. I remember his “tricks” to reach for the next rung on the ladder. Not to look up at the top – just to look at the next one. Just one. Then one more. But with my eyes still closed I try to remember happier days gone by. I know they were there because she and I had been happy once upon a time. I can remember every detail of her. The way she smiled so easily and laughed all the time. The way the sun lightened her long brown hair and made her hazel eyes sparkle. I swipe at the tear as it begins to slip down my cheek. Damn! It is going to be one of those days.

I focus on the scent of the fresh coffee and manage to open my eyes. Standing up I lift my travel coffee mug and place the lid tightly on. Turning to leave the kitchen I pick up my backpack, which contains some tissues, a few pens and pencils, and a journal. My doctor says every day I am supposed to write down something positive and then share it during our sessions. Some days the best I can say is that my coffee tasted good. I know it’s not much, but it is something.

He says finding something positive every day means that I am doing well. I guess a good cup of coffee is better than nothing. And that also means that I got out of bed today, that I was able to get dressed, get through my morning routine, able to take a breath and keep breathing.

Like football players who smack the champion sign on the way out onto the field, I have my own sign. ‘They say I am doing well’ it says, with butterflies and flowers all around it. Do I look like a flowers and butterflies kind of guy? No, I don’t think so. But as I pass by the sign, I run my fingers across the words, trying to pull them into my soul, into my heart, and most importantly into my mind. Maybe that will help. Today, I need all the help I can get.

As the door closes behind me, I say it over and over in my mind – they say I am doing well. With a deep sigh, I put one foot in front of the other and then another and another. Maybe they are right. Maybe I am doing well. I hope they are right.

David E Gordon © 2016

author bio

David E Gordon is a suspense writer, his first novel called Cutter, available on Amazon.

Contact David davidegordonauthor.wordpress.com or facebook.com/DavidEGordonAuthor

 

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part David!

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]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #27 – Blake Rivers

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Life Eclipsed

 

They say I’m doing well at school,

Because I made the grade.

“…intelligent and… don’t understand…

Cheer up you

Silly Thing!”

 

And when I’m off and walking home, they say it’s all my fault;

“…stay in school–and as for them? Just… turn the other cheek.”

 

They say I’m doing well at work,

“…a real asset to us all.

There’s just one thing… The time off thing…

You don’t look sick, don’t look ill… should be on the ball!”

 

A darkness has no light;

and when I’m doing well,

I’ll be on time, turn up, take part, be

Everything you like.

But if I don’t, think on it… am I truly well and good?

Sullen-silent I scream alone…

 

“…I wish they’d understood.”

 

Blake Rivers © 2016

 

author bio

Blake Rivers lives in the East of England, surrounded by acres of historical countryside, towns and villages. It is from these mysterious places of history that he draws on the fantastical, moulding them into stories and adventures.

For as long as he can remember, writing books and being an author of stories was all he wanted to do. He still keeps his first two manuscripts, one written on an old Royal typewriter when he was twelve, and the other on an Amiga computer when he was fourteen, and although they’d never be published, they are a reminder of the dream and the journey. In the late 2000’s, Blake wrote many starts to books that he abandoned, but it was in 2011 he began to write his first novel to be published, The Assassin Princess. Both this and his second novel, A Step into Darkscape, are available on Amazon.

When he is not writing, Blake enjoys spending time with his girlfriend who is an artist, reading lots, and going for long walks.

http://blakerivers.com/

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Blake!

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]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #24 – EJ Shortall

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Lost
A short story by
E.J. Shortall
Edited by: Kendra’s Editing and Book Services

 

“You will love it.”

“There is no better feeling in the world.”

“They complete you.”

Lies.

It was all lies.

At least, that’s how it felt at the time.

No one told me the truth. No one ever said becoming a mother would shake me, break me, and turn me into a withered fraction of the person I used to be.

Sure, I had the emotional moment and feeling of absolute joy when my son was placed in my arms for the very first time. And yes, my chest constricted with an overwhelming sense of pride when he first opened his blue eyes and looked up at me, melting my heart.

That feeling didn’t last long.

Within a week of my son’s birth, everything had changed.

Sitting on a bench facing the small lake, the dark water reflecting the changing autumn leaves of nearby trees, my thoughts drifted back to the time when being a mother became too much, when I wished it would all just go away.

That he would just go away.

 

Harvey, my son, had been a little angel. “Our very own gift from God,” Dylan, my husband, would say. Of course he would. He didn’t get to see the devil-child like I did.

As soon as Dylan returned to work at the end of his paternity leave and it became just Harvey and me, things spiralled downhill quickly.

Everything started changing.

I started changing.

It was almost like he was testing the strength of my character—and found me lacking. From the moment the front door clicked closed behind Dylan in the mornings, after he had showered his precious son with kisses, Harvey became a demanding monster. It didn’t matter what I tried or how much of my own hair I tried pulling out, Harvey would not settle.

He would cry non-stop for hours, and nothing would pacify him. I’d feed, change, and cuddle him, and I’d rock him in my arms until they ached, but his wailing would not stop.

In the early days of post-natal checks, the midwife—and then various other health-care workers—would tell me everything was fine. It would take me a while to learn what my son’s different cries were and I should not fret about things.

That was easier said than done.

The more Harvey cried, the more desperate I became.

First, my feelings were of guilt; why couldn’t I do the simple thing of pacifying my son? We soon found ourselves in a vicious circle of baby crying—mum fretting—baby continuing to cry—mum becoming desperate for some peace.

Next came hopelessness.

I began to feel lost, worthless, not deserving of anything or anyone in my life. I had been given, supposedly, the greatest gift on earth, but I didn’t appreciate him. I couldn’t.

Within days, I found myself withdrawing from my son, and from life. I couldn’t cope. Suddenly, being a wife and mother was too much.

I wasn’t connecting with my son. The bright spark of pride I’d felt straight after his birth, had faded and died. I began despising him, wishing he were anywhere but with me. My relationship with my husband was suffering, too. I could see the concern in his eyes when he came home from work in the evenings and asked how my day had been, but I couldn’t seem to muster the enthusiasm to care.

While I stayed in bed, trying to bury myself in the comfort of my blankets, I would leave Harvey in his bassinet crying for hours until he would eventually drop off to sleep. I couldn’t find the motivation to get washed or dressed. I stopped eating properly and would ignored phone calls and visitors.

I simply withdrew from living.

Eventually, Dylan and our health visitor realised that something was wrong, that I wasn’t just suffering with mild baby blues.

“Georgie,” Dylan said to me one morning, sitting beside me on the edge of the bed as he cuddled a sleeping Harvey. “Sweetheart, we can’t carry on like this. Harvey needs his mum.”

His words were like a knife to my chest. He was right; Harvey did need me, but I didn’t know how to be a mum. I was confused, scared, tired, and I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that I couldn’t just get on with motherhood like every other new mum did.

My throat clogged up with a football-sized ball of guilt, shame, and emotion, and tears stung my closed eyes. But I would not cry. I refused to. I could not admit to Dylan how low I was feeling, how utterly useless I was. I was his wife, the mother of his child. I was supposed to be strong, caring, and nurturing his child whilst he was off providing for us financially.

Dylan’s gentle hand swept greasy hair away from my face, and I felt his eyes on me.

I will not cry. I will not cry.

I kept repeating it to myself over and over, willing myself back into the darkness that was slowly engulfing me.

“You have to snap out of this, babe. Harvey needs you… I need you.”

Despite my best efforts, a whimper that resembled a squeak abraded my throat, and the tears I had been trying so hard to repress finally started falling. I screwed my eyes together tight and prayed no more would fall. But it was no use. The dam had breached, and before I knew it, I was sobbing, burying my face into the pillow, unable to control my shaking body.

“Let me help you. We need to get you help so you can feel like you again. I need my wife, and Harvey needs his mum. We can’t lose you, Georgie.”

Dylan’s emotion-filled voice and words took me by surprise. What did he mean by ‘lose me’? I wasn’t going anywhere, well, other than the black hole I was steadily falling into.

I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and wiggled under the crumple of blankets until I was facing Dylan. For the first time in several weeks, I actually took note of my husband. His usual bright-blue eyes were dull and haunted, dark circles swirled underneath, and a concerned frown drew in his brows.

My husband was seriously worried. About me?

As tears continued to spill from my eyes, Dylan reached forward to wipe them away.

“I’ve been speaking to Evelyn, and she thinks you have Postnatal Depression.” I shuddered again, not wanting to acknowledge what we both knew was the truth. “I’ve made you an appointment with the doctor. It’s time we got you the support you need to help you get back to your old self.”

Dylan offered a small, weary smile and continued stroking my hair with one hand while cuddling our son to his chest with the other.

The realisation of the seriousness of my condition hit me full on. I wasn’t just feeling down or tired; I was depressed.

I turned my head, not able to look at my husband or son, as a new emotion swept through me… shame.

“Hey.” Dylan quickly slipped his gentle hand beneath my cheek, encouraging me to look at him again. “Don’t hide from me. You have nothing to be ashamed of, okay? Lots of new mothers suffer with Postnatal Depression.”

“I’m so sorry,” I cried, bringing my hand to my mouth, trying to control my hysterics. “I’m so, so sorry, Dylan.”

With his free arm, Dylan pulled my against his chest, holding his family close.

“Shh, you have nothing to be sorry for. You hear me? Nothing.”

I cried and snuggled into Dylan’s white cotton shirt for what felt like hours until Harvey started wriggling and getting grumpy.

“Why don’t you go shower while I feed this little monster, then we’ll go talk to the doctor.” Dylan planted a kiss to my forehead and began to ease away. Not wanting him to go, I quickly grabbed handfuls of his shirt and buried my face into his chest.

“I love you,” I whispered.

I felt his smile against my skin as he kissed me again.

“And I love you, too… We’ll get through this, baby. I promise we will.”

 

After a chat with our family doctor, he confirmed that I was experiencing Postnatal Depression. We spoke about various treatment options and support that would help me cope, and eventually decided against antidepressants, opting for a more therapeutic approach through counselling and support groups.

When we returned home from the doctors, together, Dylan and I fed and changed Harvey and settled him down for a nap, then we sat and searched the Internet for information and advice. The Mind website was a fantastic resource that helped me further understand my condition and put me in contact with a local support group.

Within days, I’d attended a one-to-one counselling session with a lovely lady who didn’t judge and encouraged me to open up. I also had further plans to join a local group of other women who were also struggling following the birth of a child. I was still buried in a black hole, but for the first time in weeks, I felt hopeful.

Talking to people who understood and could relate to how I was feeling was my greatest motivation. I finally accepted that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a freak of nature, or a bad mother, and my fears, anxieties, and emotions were all normal.

 

“Mumma, Mumma.”

My thoughts came back to the present by the sound of a happy child shouting behind me.

Slowly, I pulled my gaze from the darkness of the lake and turned in my seat. The sight that greeted me made my chest ache and spread a wide smile across my face. It was the most beautiful sight in the world.

My son.

Harvey, who was now walking, was heading toward me on his unsteady, chubby legs, a bright smile lighting up his face.

“Mumma, Mumma,” he babbled over and over, making me laugh.

“Hey, baby boy,” I cooed, scooping him into my arms. “Did Daddy take you to the swings?”

“Swin, swin, swin” he chanted over and over, excited to have mastered—in his baby way—another new word.

I felt Dylan step up behind me and wrap his arms around my waist, settling his hands over my stomach.

“Hello, gorgeous.”

The warmth of his breath fluttering across the sensitive skin of my neck, and the husky tones of his voice, sent my body into overdrive.

“Hello to you, too, handsome.”

“How is my family doing?” He rubbed gentle circles over the tiny swell of my belly.

“We’re all doing great.” I beamed, turning in Dylan’s arms and offering him my lips that he was only too willing to smother with his own.

We stood together for several minutes, kissing each other and cuddling our son, until Harvey became restless and wanted to get down.

“I guess it’s time to go home, then,” Dylan said, taking Harvey from my arms and securing him in his stroller.

As we walked back through the park toward our car, I couldn’t be more thankful for my life. I had a wonderful son, a fantastic husband, an amazing support group surrounding me, and another, unexpected, child on the way.

Things weren’t always perfect; I still had the occasional struggle, and I couldn’t deny being a little afraid of becoming a mother again. But, as they say, I was doing well and getting better and more confident every day.

With my family and friends beside me, I knew everything would be okay.

“You will love it.”

“There is no better feeling in the world.”

“They complete you.”

It was all the truth, every last word.

EJ Shortall © 2016

author bio

EJ Shortall was born and raised in London, England where she currently still lives with her teenage son.

Having worked in education for the better part of 12 years, EJ decided a change was needed and, following a moment of inspiration, she decided to put pen to paper and start writing her first novel, Silver Lining. Not content with just the one, she continued with book two and hopes to write many more.

She has always enjoyed reading, but found it was mostly just a holiday extravagance. Then she discovered a certain worldwide best seller, and that was it she was hooked. Reading quickly became an obsession and she couldn’t devour books fast enough. The books on her shelves and reading device range from sweet, Young Adult romances, to smouldering erotic encounters.

Aside from reading and writing, EJ also enjoys amateur photography and cake decorating.

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorE.J.Shortall

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part EJ!

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]

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“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.

DONATE BUTTON

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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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #20 – TA McKay

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They say I’m doing well.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-three minutes since I last cried. I can feel them though; the tears are there, building inside my chest causing it to tighten as they try to escape.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-three minutes since the last time I cut my skin to let the blood take it all away. But I can feel it building again, the pain inside my soul that’s desperate to be released.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-three minutes since I thought about ending it all. I felt nothing but peace when I thought about how simple it would be to stop it all, how slipping away would be so much easier on everyone. The darkness wouldn’t hurt, the darkness would welcome me like an old friend.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-four minutes since I asked for help. That was the moment I sat in a chair and spoke to someone who understood how I felt, told them how much pain I had inside. I let them in and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Even after all the blood I’ve shed and tears I’ve cried, talking was what scared me the most.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-five minutes.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-six minutes.

They say I’m doing well, and one day I might believe them. For now I will just count the days, hours, and minutes, because every minute that passes is another minute I’ve survived.

They say I’m doing well, but I can feel myself falling into the darkness again.

It’s been eleven days, six hours, and twenty-seven minutes.

T.a. McKay © 2015

author bio

After being married for ten years and raising three beautiful kids I decided it was time to do something for myself. My passion for reading bled over with a need to tell the story that was repeating in my head and that was the birth of my first book. The rest they say is history.

I love the creative release that writing gives you, being able to take someone away to a different world feels amazing. As a reader I know how important that escape is, and as a writer I love to be able to give people that.

My other loves include music and reading (in case I haven’t mentioned that before) and then when I have time a little more reading. I think if I could read for a living I would, but since I can’t I will continue on the writing side of things.

https://www.facebook.com/Ta-Mckay-Author-1462902633937350

 

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Tracy!

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]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #19 – Muriel Garcia

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hope [hohp]

noun

The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

 

Hope, my family always told me to believe in hope, no matter what the circumstances. But how can you remain positive when everything around you falls apart? How do you face life when it only gets worse?

My life hasn’t been easy. My parents divorced when I was two and, from what my mother told me, it was because my father was beating her.

Over the next couple of years, my mother had a new boyfriend every week until she met my stepfather. He wasn’t a good man either. He was a drug addict who used my mother as an ATM to feed his addiction. My mother was stupid enough to believe he loved her, which gave me a negative outlook on men, even if I still wanted to believe there was someone good for me out there.

The moment I turned sixteen, I left and never looked back. It’s been ten years and I don’t know if my mother ever tried to find me.

I managed to make something of my life; I found a job, a place to live and a boyfriend who quickly became my husband. My life became the dream I always hoped it would be, but it turned into a nightmare the first time my husband hit me.

A friend of ours had uploaded a picture of me dancing platonically with another man onto Facebook. My husband couldn’t make the party because he had to work late so the guy took pity on me sitting by myself. The moment my husband saw the picture he stormed over to me and slapped me across the cheek. He told me that it was my fault, that I must have done something to seduce my dance partner because there was no way he would have danced with me otherwise. And like a fool, I believed him

After that things calmed down for a while and I let myself hope that everything was back to normal, but the look of disgust in his eyes every time he drank chilled my blood. I didn’t know how to get away; I had nowhere to go and the few friends I had were our mutual friends so I couldn’t risk asking for help and them telling my husband where I had gone.

I tried to keep myself by escaping inside books, every love story gave me some hope to cling on to and dream about. All I have ever wanted was a loving relationship with a man who would look at me with adoration instead of disgust; who would want to spend time with me instead of ignoring me.

His repertoire of abuse developed into manipulation and mental abuse and I quickly became a shell of my former self. I couldn’t do what I wanted or go where I wanted without his approval. It took me a while to find the courage to leave him but my decision was made for me when he hit me the second time. I had been quietly reading a book whilst drinking a glass of wine when he drunkenly stormed into the living room. He then pulled the book from my hands and threw it in the open fire before yelling at me and insulted me; telling me that I didn’t deserve him and was nothing but a bit of skirt. By this stage he had me by my hair and he dragged me to stand. I remember seeing him pull his hand behind me before he struck, connecting with my face so hard that I lost my balance. He carried on screaming at me until his voice became hoarse and he stormed out of the apartment. It was in that moment, sitting on the floor with my arms around my knees waiting to see if he was coming back to finish the job, that I decided to pack my bags and disappear, once again. It seems history is destined to repeat itself.

Thanks to my husband, I lost any hope I had of finding happiness one day.

People always told me that I had done well for myself, I had a good life and was lucky to have a husband like him. Little did they know what an abusive man he was behind closed doors.

How can I be happy when the people who are supposed to love me only manage to hurt me?

Ten years ago I left the only house I’d ever known without regrets and, three days ago, I did it again.

I drove aimlessly for a couple of days and spent the time thinking about those books I love to read. They are my only happiness and the only thing that gives me a semblance of hope.

Tonight is the first night that I’ve allowed myself to do something that I want to do. I want to live and be myself, even just for one night.

Earlier today, I was handed a flyer for a new art gallery opening when I was walking around town. It’s not really the type of thing I’m into, but why not go anyway? I can do whatever I want to here without worrying about the consequences.

I make my way to one of the hostesses and take a glass of champagne. I don’t particularly like it, but it’s free so I can’t really complain. I take a sip and smile, it’s not as bad as I thought. Looks like tonight won’t be as bad as I thought. I feel happy, which is a first in a really long time. I walk around the gallery and take my time to really appreciate the paintings. I don’t know who the artist is, but they have a real talent.

There are so many people around that it’s making me a bit uneasy. Is anyone judging me? Do they know I’m poor and have no idea what to do with my life? I wonder if they can see the telling yellow tint on my cheek where my husband hit me.

I spend most of my time asking myself hundreds of questions about my life. Living alone doesn’t scare me and maybe I should have spent more time alone after I left my mother, instead of jumping into a relationship with the first guy I met who I thought might be my Prince Charming. What scares me the most is not living my life to the fullest and not being happy. I’ll be twenty-seven in a few days and I’m alone, homeless, jobless. I’ve been stood in front of a painting of a woman looking morose for quite some time now. Her long, auburn hair covers her shoulders and her big green eyes fixed on an invisible spot behind me. A dark shadow covers the corner of her lips and stretches over her pink cheek. She looks vulnerable, like she’s just lost everything. She looks like me.

I draw in a deep breath as the realization hits me. I quickly turn around and accidentally walk straight into someone. I look up at the man I just walked into and apologize before running out of the room. I need to put as much distance as I possibly can between the painting and myself. That painting is the mirror that I’ve refused to look in for years, unable to face my own distress and sadness. It’s ironic really, I judged my mother harshly for what happened to her but then let it happen to myself. Granted I left but I didn’t leave straightaway, I was sure he would change.

I take another deep breath when I finally get outside. I’m a mess, my makeup is running down my face, it’s cold and snowing, and I’m only wearing a tank top and a skirt. I wrap my arms around my body in an attempt to warm myself but it’s in vain. I turn around, ready to go back inside, when I bump into the same man I just walked into. I look up into his eyes and lose myself. In that moment, I forget everything. I forget that my mother never loved me, I forget that my husband didn’t either and I forget that I have nothing.

The stranger is looking at me as if I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and it is in this moment that my hope returns.

Muriel Garcia © 2016

author bio

Muriel Garcia grew up in Belgium. She loves music, tattoos, hot tattooed men, travelling, and cooking. She always had an overly imaginative and creative mind but never thought of writing a book up until a couple of months ago. Now she couldn’t imagine not writing stories that are near and dear to her heart.
You can follow her on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormurielgarcia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/muriel__g
Instagram: http://instagram.com/itsmurielg
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/384126741737037/

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Muriel!

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]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #18 – Rachel Hague

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So I’ve struggled,

I’ve hurt.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

You look at me like dirt.

 *

Why do I feel this way?

Should I believe the things you say?

*

Heart racing,

Blurring mind.

Worrying if what I’m doing is right.

What will I find?

 *

I end it with you.

Need to get out of this hole.

Claw out of darkness,

Need to heal my soul.

 *

I saw the light,

I chose to fight.

 *

Silence throughout it all.

Back on top from whence I fell.

If they ask, I’ll just say,

“THEY” say I’m doing well.

 *

Just. After time,

My life is my own. All Mine.

 *

Gosh, it’s so long since I wrote a poem! I used to write all the time when I was in my teenage years. My my, how life changes!

I just want to say how hard it was in the beginning to ask for help. I had struggled with anxiety for a long time before I spoke to someone, It was only after I had started pulling my hair our (I had a lovely small bald patch to show for it) that I was encouraged to talk to someone. Even now, years later, if I have a bad day at work or if there’s something that’s weighing on my mind, I still feel the urge.

Talking helps. Talking to my partner, my mum or anyone for that matter! Learning to let the little things go has improved my quality of life. If I don’t think I’m going to remember the current “incident”, that’s causing the anxiety, in a year. I let it go. (Please don’t start singing THAT song now I’ve written let it go. Dammit now I’m humming it!)

I don’t ever want to feel how I did back then. People did always used to say I’m doing well, because they never knew any different until I started to get help.

I refuse to be the person I used to be. On my back I have….

Take me as I am,

Who I was,

And for whom I shall become.

Tattooed there. A reminder that I’m stronger now than ever before. I’m happy.

Never feel ashamed to talk out loud to people and share. Even if it’s just a tiny sliver of your worries, anxieties, the highs and your lows, it may just be the start to finding your way back to being you.

You’ll find your way back. I believe in you.

You just have to believe too.

Rachel Hague © 2016

author bio

Rachel is a blogger for booksiignoremyhusbandfor.blogspot.co.uk and a proactive member of the book community! Follow her on Twitter @BIIMHF – she always has her head in a book!

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Rachel!

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]

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