“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.


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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 #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

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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 #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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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #4 – Audrina Lane

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A look, a glance, a cheerful smile

Hello, how are you? How’s things?

You reply in kind with words of

Fine, I’m good, how are you?

But do they listen?

Do they just see the face?

But is it real or is it fake?

Beyond the mask is what really counts

They never see my pain

The sorrow and the bleakness

Desolation swirls again

A cage to confine and constrict

Each moment is an effort

Requiring acting skill

To keep the glue that holds in place

The image I portray

Who can really see behind

This lie of life I lead

The mirror shows me what I mean

The despair of self esteem

Eroded gradually through time

Cruel words and taunts

Echoing

I hear them all

They whisper

Some might know the score

Some see the darkness in my eyes

A shuffle in my gait

Dressing to remain obscured

To hide my truth away

And sometimes

A tear slips and falls

As my ears pick up upon

The words uttered as I walk away

They say I’m doing well

Audrina Lane © 2016

author bio

Audrina Lane lives with her partner Steve and two Labradors in Herefordshire where The Heart Trilogy is set. The first book is based on a diary the author wrote in 1992 and is inspired by her own experiences of first love.

The other books in the series, Unbreak My Heart and Closer to the Heart are out now. To find out more about Audrina and her books, visit www.audrinalane.co.uk or http://author.to/audrinalane.

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Audrina!

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

Where did your Heart go 1

 

Audrina is giving away an ecopy of her first book and some swag to go with it. To win, visit The Heart Trilogy page, pop a like on the page if you haven’t already and say “Sarah sent me”.

 

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #2 – Lavinia Urban

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My Husband

They say I’m doing well,

But no one sees the tears that fall behind closed doors.

They say I’m doing well,

But no one hears the pain in my vocal chords.

They say I’m doing well,

But no one feels the pain inside my head.

They say I’m doing well,

But no one knows how I wish to be dead.

They say I’m doing well,

And hide behind a fake smile.

They say I’m doing well,

I’m getting there… it’ll take a while.

Lavinia Urban © 2016

author bio

Lavinia originally grew up in Cheshire and now lives in a small village just outside of Edinburgh with her husband and two daughters.

Writing has always been something that Lavinia have loved since an early age but it wasn’t until 2010 when the idea came to her to write Erin the Fire Goddess.

Lavinia chose to name the main character and her sister after her two daughters, who inspire Lavinia to write every day.

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Lavinia!

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

Lavinia is giving away a Kindle Copy of Frozen in Time. To enter, follow Lavinia on Twitter @Lavinia_Missb and tag her in a tweet saying hello!

related links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaviniaUrbanAuthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/laviniaurban/

TSU: https://www.tsu.co/Lavinia_Urban

Website: http://www.laviniaurban.co.uk

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LaviniaUrban/posts/p/pub

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/laviniamissb/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/laviniaurban/

Giveaway and Freebie!!

A Fine Profession WEBSITE USE

“You felt all her new and erotic experiences and your heart broke for her at the same time.”

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“A Fine Profession is a proper story and Sarah explores her leading character in considerable depth.”

“The also explores men, people’s relationships in the context of sex and exploitation, whether by men, women or by Lottie herself.”

“The sexual content is certainly there and hits the right note. It is also well written.”

 

A FINE PROFESSION is #free to download to your Kindle devices today and tomorrow ONLY. CLICK COVER TO PURCHASE FOR £/$0.00.

On my FACEBOOK PAGE, I am currently giving away a copy of A Fine Profession in paperback (not to mention other goodies, too!). Follow this link for instructions: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=613337078770046

This 5* erotic read is paired with A FINE PURSUIT, and together they make two novels detailing the complex, highly sexual relationship between a mega-earning investment banker and the humble “chambermaid” determined to show him life doesn’t have to be meaningless forever.

 

Read Noah’s story too:

a fine pursuit

Lottie