Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Keeping your eye on the prize…

Hello again. How has your week been so far? I don’t mind sharing that this week I am struggling. Struggling to balance life, struggling to sleep, struggling financially and struggling to keep the boys balanced and healthy.


We don’t do diets in this house, we do healthy eating plans. Wes and I have low carbs, high protein diets and my youngest has a balanced diet even more so since he has had these mystery symptoms that are even baffling the professionals. Honestly, he has had nose bleeds, pins and needles, serious bouts of exhaustion and loss of concentration. My instincts have always led me to believe it was not medical but to do with lifestyle. However, he is active, not overweight and generally happy and very bright. 

Every other weekend and once a week he goes to his Dad’s house. Obviously I’d discussed the health issues with him and explained the new healthy eating and regular exercise. I thought we were on the same page. Monday evening I went to the doctors to discuss results. Everything is fine apart from the nose bleeds and pins and needles that had reappeared on Sunday evening in spite of a couple of weeks, nearly a month symptom free!

Monday evening I asked for a list of what he had eaten over the weekend. What I was advised totally shocked and actually devastated me. I had spent more than six months worrying about my little boy and had spent time at the doctors and the specialists at the LGI, who, incidentally, were fantastic. After analysing the food he had eaten, these were the results. Bearing in mind I have done the estimations very conservatively.

Friday (1 meal only)

I admit I cried from anger, frustration, disgust and fear. Talk about feeling like a bad mother!!

So the first part of this week and not for the first time, I have educated my son on the importance of healthy eating, not dieting! Some people don’t understand the difference apparently.  Ten years ago I would have vehemently opposed any discussion about lifestyle with a child and it certainly is not the responsibility of an eight year old to ensure he is eating properly but when you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, you eventually have to try a new direction.

I highlight this only to demonstrate the risks children face and in spite of me watching what he eats and how he lives his life, his health was at risk.  I feel like the Gestapo!  I am not popular at the moment but it has to be done to prevent serious illness. I guess the biggest lesson is don’t give up on your instincts. Apparently I am a nag – guess what? This nag is not stopping!! Let’s hope this is the end the bouts of illness but it won’t be the end of the worrying - that lasts a lifetime. The other lesson is – giving life lessons to children does not let up. It’s been an uncomfortable start to the week but some issues can’t be ignored. Days like this I know I am very much on my own, swimming against the tide or in my case... a blooming tsunami!
Obviously this has distracted me from work but if it saves him from long term illness, it is worth it.

Rugby League

On a lighter note, we had a mammoth journey to Valley Cougars on Saturday to watch Wes play for Hallam Eagles. Wow, what a journey! Not helped by the M50 being closed all day which forced a detour south to the Severn bridge then back up to Treharris.

Still, I think it was worth the journey. Thirteen young, rising stars competed, and I mean competed, against seventeen GROWN men, sixteen after one of the men decided he would stamp on Wes. Although they narrowly lost 14-16 to last year’s league winners, they all worked hard and did the club and themselves really proud. This weekend we travel to Gloucester after spending Tuesday night watching the reserves at the Dewsbury Rams. That is Saturday taken care of and Sunday Lucas has a football tournament. 

It looks like 5am starts for me for the foreseeable future just to fit everything in. It is a good job I can work anytime, anywhere – is it too early for Martini?? (if you was not alive in the 1980s you may not get this!)


What has made this week even more frustrating, is the list of projects I need time to sort out. Time is the rarest commodity in our house, money being the second!

I am editing my next book, have started another but the biggest work has been on the PhD proposal revisions and scriptwriting. The latter is something I have wanted to try for a while and two of my current stories are developing more for the screen than a book but I wouldn’t rule out the latter!! The way I roll, I suppose!

I am looking forward to the day when I am earning some money from writing so I can employ someone to help me. For now though, I have accepted that writing and following my new career path is my second priority behind my children. I put myself under so much pressure to do everything I need to do. I won’t give up in spite of the lack of support from people. It is not being deluded or stubborn, it is being a human being who refuses to accept the ‘norm’ and give up on what is right for my little family.

Introducing you to Beyond the Past

The book is set in Yorkshire featuring local cities and towns - Leeds, Harrogate, York and Wetherby and centres around rugby league.

Main Characters

Annie Swift - Elegant, funny and very strong. Mum of two rising stars in rugby league.
Mark Smith - Ex professional rugby league player, now a pundit on television and radio.
Matt Swift - Annie's eldest son, plays rugby league professionally for Leeds.
Ed Swift-Brown - Just breaking into professional rugby league, Ed is on loan to London then signs for Leeds to realise his ultimate ambition of playing alongside his big brother.
Garry Pearce - Mark's best friend. Played rugby league together from amateur under 8s to professionally for Wigan and Great Britain.
Louisa Smith -Mark's ex wife and mother to their only child Sophie.
DCI Harry Fisher -Senior Investigating Officer in the case.
DS Phillipa Davies -Mother of two children, Phillipa is very bright. Harry specifically asks for her to be assigned to the case not just for professional reasons.
Andrea Collins - Annie's Mum and confidante.
Charles Collins -Annie's father and Matt and Ed's hero. 

Opening pages

Just past the Halifax junction on the M62, Mark Smith noticed a car tailing him. It had been there for about three miles. After recent events, he changed lanes a few times, the car followed. Annie sensed his anxiety and watched him cautiously looking through his mirror. Suddenly the car overtook them and lingered at their side. Mark looked across to see the driver but the tinted windows prevented any identification. He slowed down, the car slowed down. The cat and mouse antics went on for a couple of miles.

"Annie! Ed! Keep your wits about you. Annie ring Harry and let him know. When I slow down see if one of you can get the registration number," Mark instructed.

Annie's heart was pounding but she was more concerned she had one of her precious boys with them. Ed wasn't at all fazed. He was watching Mark intensely. Mark braked suddenly and the car skidded to the left. It was enough for Ed to take a note of the registration number. However, the car slowed down and pulled in front of them. Mark was forced to brake hard to avoid a collision.

Annie Swift's life flashed before her eyes. She'd not had an easy life; her first marriage was violent and the only good thing to come out of it all was her eldest son, Matt. Oh God! Matt she thought. He was on the verge of re-signing a contract to play Rugby League for his home town, the club she had supported as a child with her grandpa. She didn't want her life to end now! Her mum and dad needed her, her boys needed her and most of all she'd finally met someone she could grow old with, who loved her unconditionally and made her happy at last. Life had been cruel but it was worth the heartache to have such beautiful boys and now a new partner. She had come through so much and was finally in a good place in her life. It was inconceivable it could end now. 

"Shit!" Mark shouted as he swerved out to the middle lane. As he tried to overtake the car, it too increased its speed. Then, without warning the pursuer swerved into the middle lane, again Mark's defensive driving avoided contact but this was getting really scary. Annie was shouting down the phone to DCI Harry Fisher. 

Ed turned to Mark. "Mark keep calm you are doing great. I think we should try and get off the motorway at the next exit."

Annie interrupted, "Harry suggested that too. I am going to put the phone on loudspeaker so we can tell him what's happening."

Just as she said this, Mark managed to manoeuvre past the car. He was an ex professional rugby player, not a racing driver' He put his foot down and was doing ninety-five mph when the car came right up behind him. There was no getting away from it. Mark was shaking but was trying his best to get them out of trouble. 

"The next junction, junction twenty-four, is coming up. I'm going to let him pass us and then slip off the motorway."

DCI Fisher's voice bellowed, "Mark, listen to me, do not do anything stupid! Stay within the law, we will be there shortly. The motorway police are three minutes away and the helicopter five. Stay calm but do not, I repeat do not speed." 

Mark realised it was stupid trying to outrun the car. The shaking subsided a little as he reduced his speed to seventy. The car overtook him again but this time re-joined his lane and slammed on again in front of him. Annie and Ed screamed and Annie lifted her hands to her face. Mark swerved again and braked but it was not enough. The passenger side front wing clipped the rear of the car in front. It spun the BMW out of control and into the central reservation. The airbags activated. 

For what seemed an eternity the three of them said nothing. Annie could hear the faint sirens of the emergency vehicles. The searing pain from her leg was unbearable.

"Mum!, Mum you okay?" She recognised Ed's voice.

She tried to speak but the words wouldn't come out. She nodded but wasn't sure if her head actually moved. The pain was taking over, it was so, so intense. She could hear Ed and Mark's voice and a strange distant voice calling her name, she recognised it was Harry but couldn't understand why he was there. She passed out.

Ed and Mark walked out of the mangled mess and sat in an ambulance close by. Both shocked, 
Ed had a small cut on his left cheek and on his hand where a splinter of glass had hit him. It seemed a very strange situation to him. He was sitting calmly in an ambulance whilst the scene outside was pandemonium. None of it seemed real. It resembled a scene from a Bruce Willis blockbuster.

Read the first three chapters FREE on my website

Available from:

Pegasus Publishers
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Or you can order from your local bookshop. The ISBN number is : 978-1-84386-789-0 

Have a great week everyone

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Positively positive… NOW

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Crushing the negativity and inner demons

Well, I suppose I better start with the excuses of why I am so late blogging this week… well not really excuses. It’s been a full on week. The boys are on holiday, I’ve been working on lots of projects, sorting the house out and yesterday was the 26th anniversary of Hillsborough which is always a day of reflection for me.

Down to business. Do you ever bite the bullet and set wheels in motion then spend time convincing yourself you are not clever enough or people won’t take you seriously? I do and it drives me insane. It most definitely is my life challenge and believe me I have come so far from how I was even three years ago. It is probably the one single thing that has held me back in my life. I fight it every day, thankfully it is becoming less overwhelming and more of a driving force to push myself out of the comfort zone. It has also driven me to ensure the boys do not suffer from self-doubt yet remain humble and thankful. 

Isn’t it funny how we subconsciously rebel against our own childhood experiences? I never felt I had support to follow my dreams and was too easily talked out of them. My ideas were always met with, at best, apathetic enthusiasm and that is looking at it optimistically! Unfortunately, surrounding myself with the wrong people meant I gave up and accepted a job and career path that was predictable and ‘normal’. Being diagnosed with Menieres was the catalyst for change. It led me to analysing everything in my life including my relationships.

Unknowingly, I had surrounded myself with people who were happy for me to have clipped wings. I only have myself to blame but it is much easier to just go with the flow. It’s not right but it’s much easier. THIS WAS NOT ME! I am fighter, always have been since being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck at birth. I had become everything I despised. 

Breaking the Mould

It is tough breaking the mould. I understand now what some many wise people were trying to tell me years ago. I wish I had understood back then. To physically and mentally stand up against the ‘norm’ and finally take the plunge into your own life is scary, lonely at times but courageous and rewarding in ways you can never imagine.

I fight every day to maintain my standards, my principles. I want my boys to be brought up to understand equality, freedom, right and wrong, the importance of truth, honesty and integrity. Most days I am swimming against the tide and it is exhausting. The easiest life would be to concede my beliefs and go with the flow. I understand why people settle for this, I really do but it is not me. BEEN THERE – GOT THE SCARS! I am always being told, “You do what you want anyway!” As if making my own choices is the worst thing in the world. Those people, though, are the very people who tried to clip my wings.

We are all a blank canvas that changes through choices, experiences and time. I am my OWN person. I live within my own standards and within the law. That is all people should be concerned with. Everything else is my business.

I no longer surround myself with the wrong people. I no longer do things through duty – that’s not being unsociable, it is being true to who I have become. It is so gratifying for the penny to drop and peace reigns over my lovely little family.

PhD – A whole new level

The PhD is the most selfish thing I have done in my life. It is my own personal goal but I think we, as a family, are now in a position for me to do this. I have discussed it at length with the boys and their unequivocal support makes me so proud. It makes my decision even easier but no less daunting.

The boys are strong and independently minded. That is and will always be my greatest achievement although my work is not complete yet. It is rewarding to be able to influence, not control; to nurture, not stunt their growth; to guide them rather than force them. Life is not all sweetness and roses, I know that more than most. The boys need to understand that but also need to know the world can be a magical, wonderful place with some extraordinary people doing amazing things, however small that positive contribution is. The greatest gift given to a child is the ability to be a decent human being, devoid of prejudicial judgement. It is not easy! 

Never underestimate a parent’s role in the shaping of future generations.


In between researching and drafting proposals, I have been editing my work and writing new material. Oh and I have submitted some short stories for publication. There’s no limit to what you can do once you surround yourself with positivity and eliminate most of the negativity.

Rugby League

Last week I watched two fabulous games of rugby. Wes played in the home game in which they won 54 22. It was a great performance and my baby seem to come of age right in front of me! The second was Sheffield Eagles v Leigh Centurions. It was great to watch it with Wes and we had great fun. The last five minutes sealed the loss for the Eagles but the result did not in any way reflect the Eagles’ performance.


Tuesday 15th April 2015 was the 26th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster – TWENTY SIX YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE! Ninety six children, men and women lost their lives and hundreds, if not thousands of other lives were changed forever.

I am in awe of all the families and survivors who have fought all this time for truth and justice. Anne Williams lost her son on the fateful day. Anne fought tirelessly until she lost her battle with cancer on the 18th April 2013. Anne is my hero. Someone who showed unimaginable determination, humility, dignity and fortitude to carry on even when the establishment slammed doors in her face. A true, working class hero who showed me how to be a formidable Mum. RIP Anne – justice is coming.