Saturday, 24 May 2014

Take the opportunity to make your life YOURS…


Its three years since I wrote Beyond the Past and this week I have been reading it again to make sure the sequel includes all the twists and turns and evidence. Writing the sequel has been much tougher than writing the first one for a number of reasons. Firstly, with your debut novel, while you want it to be perfect and loved by all, there is no expectation or pressure on completing it. I made the decision to write it at my own pace. Secondly, because it is a sequel the pressure is on to ensure that it is more gripping and interesting than its predecessor. So many sequels have failed to live up to the first piece. I am determined mine won’t, well I hope it won’t!!

The sequel is Beyond the Lies. This one is not written off the cuff but is planned. I wanted to make sure there were a few more plot twists in the storyline and to do that, it had to be planned. Having said that I only started writing the plan after I had written the first thirteen chapters!  I very much write on instinct and churn out the story. Once it is completed, I then go back and edit the pages and storyline. At this point I could cut chapters out and change things around but for now I just want to write and develop, not just the storyline but the characters too. I am a novice in my new chosen career and I am learning every day. In order to learn I read a lot of books, blogs and any relevant literature. I have to admit though, some of the things I read I take with a pinch of salt – probably what most of you do with my blog. I try to avoid writing anything in here that would sound like I am preaching but very often I read things that are doing just that. I have a real issue with fellow writers who say you mustn’t do this or you mustn’t do that. How do you know? How do any of us know what is for the best? If I’d have listened to people telling me don’t or you’ll never make, I would not be in the position I am in today. I read recently that you should NEVER let anyone read your work until it is fully completed. Fair enough but why? I have readers that read my drafts as I am doing them. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I like the extra pair of eyes and I like being able to discuss the outcomes of certain scenarios with someone. Indeed this has helped me to come up with a few surprises in the second book.

I really believe as human beings none of us are experts. Some have more knowledge than others and some apply their knowledge better but we can all continue to learn throughout our lives. I especially believe us oldies can learn from the younger ones. Just because we have lived it doesn’t mean we have a better understanding of life. I have learned so much from my children and being a Mum has definitely made me a more compassionate and understanding person. In our house, we deal with major issues together. My children, right from being very young, have been involved in major decisions such as new homes, cars, job opportunities and changes in my career. All these things didn’t just impact on my life but on theirs too. I really believe this openness has given them a better understanding of life’s choices and I am so grateful they backed me 100% firstly in my degree and then in my pursuit of a new career in writing. Thank goodness they did!!

It was really lovely to receive messages and emails about the blog last week not just about its content but about its existence. To be totally honest I wasn’t even going to write a blog because I didn’t think I would have anything to say or that no one would want to read it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am less than 50 views short of 5,000 viewings which is totally amazing. However, what is more amazing is the number of people that have reached out to me to discuss the cyber bullying and sports’ scholarships particularly other parents’ reactions towards them. It would appear we are not alone in what we have encountered. I have emailed everyone who took the time to write to me but I want to publicly thank each and every one of you for your support. You have no idea how much your words of encouragement mean to us. My son has shown unbelievable resilience.In fact, we laugh about it now as so many positives have come out of such wicked behaviour and both boys will enjoy playing in higher divisions and I can sit back, relax and watch them flourish, stress and drama free.

The boys will be back playing amateur rugby league shortly and I am so grateful for the help, advice and support I have received from the RFL and Sheffield Eagles. The true spirit of the sport and our love for it has not diminished at all.


I am really excited to confirm I have accepted an invitation to speak at the inaugural Education Trust of Wetherby’s Literary Festival at the end of June. I am also a little nervous. 

I am working hard promoting the book and will have some book signing events in the not too distant future. However, I would like to support local bookshops if at all possible. So, if you know of any small independent bookshops that would like to host a signing for me please do get in touch. I am slowly working through a list but personal recommendations are gratefully received. 

My website includes news and events as well as the first three chapters of Beyond the Past, FREE. Feel free to pop over to have a look. 

You can purchase the book from Pegasus Publishers ; Amazon UK ; Amazon US OR ORDER FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSHOP.

Exam Update

WE are at the half way mark of the exams and still standing, JUST. It’s not that bad but then again I am not sitting them! I am so impressed with my son’s approach to them but I’m not surprised. He has always given everything he does 100% (can’t think where he gets it from!) and has a plan that he follows. Planning has been the key and I have thoroughly enjoyed being here listening to him reeling off facts and details. I think it is important for young adults to know that you are there for them and that exams are only a small part of their whole life. Yes it is great to pass them first time but not the end of the world if you don’t. I wouldn’t recommend it but I graduated with a first class honours degree at the age of 43. I still maintain I would not have got the grades and won the McGraw Hill Award for best results at the age of 19. Life experience taught me so much and I hope I have passed that on to my very wise young boys.

I would like you all to have a really happy and successful week. Make the most of what you have and work hard to get what you would like. Sending lots of love to you all.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Junior Sport or parent's political playing field….

Last Friday we found out to what extent some parents and coaches are prepared to go to stop a CHILD from playing a sport they have played since they were six year old AND try to prevent a CHILD from fulfilling a Scholarship opportunity. To say it backfired on them is an understatement but it was truly disgraceful behaviour. You don't have to be an expert in the field of child welfare to know that psychological abuse is as bad, if not worse than physical abuse. There was a pattern that formed in the abuse we received, always being after a training night or after a match day. We put up with it because, naively we thought it would have an adverse affect on the scholarship but they could not have been any more supportive. 

The constant drip fed insults and abuse was laughable at times but in the end we were forced out of an amateur club just because my son worked hard enough to get a place at a scholarship. The scholarship is a development programme and there are NO guarantees that he will progress to the next level. We know that and we accept that. All the child wants to do is play rugby league, it IS that SIMPLE. 

We’ve taken months of abuse that we have tried to rise above. We have turned up to training and matches and my son has always given 100% even after being told by his amateur coach and junior secretary that he wasn’t matching up to their expectations of a scholarship player, whatever those expectations may have been because they certainly were not articulated! In addition,the previous week, my son prevented a certain club fine by turning ADULTS off the field of play and restraining the coach, when they tried to intervene in a brawl. Amateur rugby league is supposed to be fun isn't it? Let me make it clear though, the majority of rugby league clubs are fully supportive of the scholarship programme and why wouldn't they be? The common interest is our love of rugby league and the game can only survive and flourish with players who are prepared to put their body on the line week in week out and make personal sacrifices to succeed.

Yet, Friday evening, a couple of hours after I posted a positive tweet of how great our week had been, we received an email kicking him out of the club for lack of commitment and not having ‘team spirit’. This is because the weekend before (yes a full week went by) he had a game with his scholarship on the Saturday, played half of the first half and all of the second half until he took a knock to the nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding. He didn’t play the Sunday for the amateur club because of the injury. However he got out of bed and went to support the team at an away game. This apparently constitutes not having team spirit. It is pathetic that this action was taken without a CHILD being given the right to reply or the chance to represent himself.  What made this even worse was it was done FOUR days before the start of his GCSEs. Thank god he has a positive attitude to life and I have deflected pressure away from him in preparation for his exams. I do not exaggerate when I say that this adult behaviour could have resulted in very tragic circumstances.

I cannot understand any parent being jealous of a sixteen year old boy who knows his own mind and wants to get on in their life. You can’t get in and maintain a scholarship place without working hard and showing 100% commitment. I have a son who is fully committed to everything he does and that work ethic, I am proud to say, has been passed down. 

I still can’t believe after months of trolling me on twitter, the main culprit in all of this has been able to manipulate people enough to completely ignore child welfare and disciplinary rules and common decency.  The energy put into this witch hunt could have been put to so much more worthy causes. Rugby league is a wonderful game and community. The whole ethics of the game are based around hard work, team work and being the best YOU can be. Clearly some adults missed those life lessons. 

As always, lots of positives have come out of the despicable, negative behaviour and I want to thank all the local community clubs that have contacted me in the last week to offer both my boys places in their clubs. It speaks volumes to me and makes me so proud that people go out of their way to invite us into their community. Thankfully both boys will be back playing the game they love shortly. It hasn’t put us off following our dreams, it’s just made us more determined to succeed.I have also started working on research into young adult welfare and mental wellbeing. Watch this space...

I wanted to highlight this today for two reasons. Firstly, if anyone else is suffering in silence, in any sport or any part of your life, please feel free to leave a message or email me via my website I will help anyone to NOT go through what we have been through. DON'T SUFFER IN SILENCE!!

Secondly, to eradicate sport of the juvenile behaviour by ADULTS. One thing I have learnt from Liverpool Mums is to stand up for my children. Don’t get me wrong, if the boys were in the wrong they would be told in no uncertain terms. The boundaries of behaviour were set when they were young, the penalties for crossing those boundaries are clear and they know the penalties will be enforced. Exactly how it is in sport. However, they also know they have my unequivocal support when wrong is done to them and know the importance of fighting for truth and justice. 

I ask, no, beg all parents involved in junior sport NOT to be abusive to anyone whether it be coaches, referees and players, but especially not CHILDREN. Encourage children to be a part of something brilliant. After all they have got themselves out of bed, prised themselves away from their XBox and are playing a very tough, physical game. Be the shining example for your child and believe me, positive behaviour is infectious.

All children and young adults have the opportunity to be what they want to be BUT it isn’t handed to them on a plate. You have to want it, work for it and be prepared to make lots of sacrifices to get it. As a Mum it is my job to support, nurture and advise, but NOT pressure them. My son posted the following to his twitter page when we received the horrible email:

It says it all for me.

Beyond the Past

I am so pleased the book is being received so well. It makes me so proud. This week I have been continuing to work on marketing of Beyond the Past and working on the sequel Beyond the Lies.

In addition I am delighted to confirm I have accepted a kind invitation to be a guest speaker at the Local Education Trust’s inaugural Literary Festival in July. Full details will follow shortly.

My website includes news and events as well as the first three chapters of Beyond the Past, FREE. Feel free to pop over to have a look. 

You can purchase the book from Pegasus Publishers ; Amazon UK ; Amazon US OR ORDER FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSHOP.

Another Book Idea

I have about eight book outlines now and not enough time to write them!! I will keep going and never stop. The future is looking really bright for all of us and I hope you will all take the leap of faith and follow your own dreams.

Life is too short to let other people’s insecurities stop you. GO FOR IT!!

Have a fabulous week. Thank you for all your support and love. Keep it coming, I love it.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

What will be will be…

Yes, I drafted two blogs depending on the outcome of today’s football matches – forever the optimist!

Exam time

SO, the long awaited exam period has descended onto us and I am so impressed with my son’s attitude to this period in his life. In spite of nasty, spiteful adults trying to knock him off course, he has once again shown maturity beyond his years organising his time well between his rugby and exam revision.  

I would like to wish everyone good luck with their exams. Remember to stay calm, read the paper properly and do the best YOU can do. It is NOT the end of the world.  I have never believed in putting pressure on children. Pressure doesn’t bring results. Encouragement, self-belief, hard work and a really positive attitude provides results. I was overjoyed when my son thanked me for not putting any pressure on him. Motivation is not the same as pressure.

My job during this time is very simple – to deflect unnecessary external pressures, keep him fed and watered and keep the house as calm as possible, even with a seven year old who insists he is either Gerrard or Suarez and has built his own Anfield in our front living room albeit with inflatable goals and a sponge ball! We even get the full Jamie Carragher commentary!

Liverpool FC

That leads me very nicely onto Liverpool FC. Okay Paul Kilbride you know where you can stick those cough sweets… lol. Growing up, I loved watching an exciting Liverpool team that passed the ball around and ran rings around the best of oppositions. The passing and movement has really impressed me this season. With all due respect to Brendan and the team, if anyone had said to me at the start of the season we would have the best striker in the world still with us, our young players would be in contention for the world cup squad and we were involved in the title chase on the LAST day of the season, I would have said, “Can I have what you’re on please!” BUT we have been. SO we didn’t win, SO WHAT. The football is exciting and fresh whilst reminding me of my childhood years. It has always been a real pleasure and honour to be a Liverpool fan but still after 30 (okay and the rest) years, I still love the club. I love the people of Liverpool and their die hard attitude to truth and justice, not to mention their fabulous sense of humour.  I am already really looking forward to next season… and looking forward to seeing justice for all the families affected by Hillsborough #JFT96.

Paul’s fundraising  
The Sick Childrens Trust and the Rugby League Benevolent Fund. You can give on Paul’s Justgiving page.
You can donate through JustGiving or text SICK66 £1 TO 70070 or text TRYZ77 £1 to 70070 (or more if you would like). 
It was disappointing, no more so than for Paul, that his first event had to be cancelled due to illness. I want to wish Al’s daughter a speedy recovery. I know how hard Paul had worked on the event but sometimes life is just like that. We can re-group and go again. I am looking forward to reading Paul’s blog this week. I have a strong feeling it will be one to remember… (no pressure Paul).

Beyond the Past

It is always a great and much needed boost, especially this week, when someone takes the time to say they enjoyed the book. Thank you Sara for your comments, they are much appreciated. The plot thickens for the sequel Beyond the Lies and it is really hotting up now, in more ways than one! The problem I have is where to end the story. I have a few plot twists and a full profile for each of the suspects – listen to me I sound like a writer!! I could write forever… my intention is to keep writing until the story comes to a natural end then edit it, like I did with Beyond the Past. I find this much easier than breaking off to edit half way through. Once the first draft of Beyond the Past was completed, I left it to one side for a couple of weeks. When I picked it back up, I had more clarity and it was much easier to edit. Chapter One in Beyond the Past was actually Chapter Three in the first draft. Once this was changed, I had to introduce other bits for it to make sense. It obviously worked…
Despite of the pitfalls of social media, it has been a marvellous tool for marketing the book and I have a really healthy growth on my accounts including twitter, google plus, LinkedIn and my own website. I hope it won’t be long before I can actually employ someone to take care of my social media for me. Wishful thinking but we all have dreams!

Twitter Trolls

I was thinking this week about why some adults behave so badly on social media. Is it social media or is it just the individual? I suspect it is the latter but their callous bigoted nature is polarised by 140 characters. I was pleased to see the eight week prison sentence but sadly it won’t be a deterrent to people who think it’s satisfactory to belittle, berate and hate other more successful people. At least they can't hide behind aliases and can be traced. I’ve always taught mine to think before you speak. Now, during the techno age is quite clear we should be teaching think before you write.

Stigma & Labelling

This week I was labelled a sociopath, diagnosed by someone who is not medically trained. I have to plead ignorance so looked it up. When I read it, I laughed out loud but then there is a serious message to this. Why would you, without medical training, want to label someone? Sad that, in spite of all the work charities do, ignorant people still want to stigmatise an illness. I will say this. If caring and fighting for my boys, supporting charities, local businesses, justice campaigns, promoting women in business and providing self-confidence and self-esteem boosts (FREE I might add!) are all characteristics of being a sociopath, I advocate the world should be full of them!!

I am currently working on research into the mental wellbeing of children, especially teenagers from a Mum's perspective. There will be a blog on this in the near future.

My website includes news and events as well as the first three chapters of Beyond the Past, FREE. Feel free to pop over to have a look.

You can purchase the book from Pegasus Publishers ; Amazon UK ; Amazon US OR ORDER FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSHOP.

Have a safe and productive week. Be positive and help to inspire others…