April Catch-Up

Any Human Heart

April catch-up image

It has been a strange few months as March and April have been full of health issues.  First, I had a middle-of-the-night dash to A&E, where I was quickly diagnosed with Sepsis, brought on by kidney and bladder infections.  I was immediately put on treatment to bring me back from the brink.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is when you have an infection and your immune system goes into a crazy overdrive, starts attacking your organs and causes inflammation throughout the body.  It is a life-threatening but easily treatable when caught early.

Visit The Sepsis Trust for more information.

Recovering from Sepsis is much harder than I would have ever believed and I was medication for quite a long time after getting home from the hospital.  However, I was on the mend and just when I was finally starting to feel much better, I felt the same symptoms coming on again!  The A&E doctors had told me that if I suspected I had another infection I should come straight back, so that was what I did.  I was showing early signs of sepsis but I was put straight on antibiotics which seemed to stop it in its tracks.  Then it was back to trying to get better again.

Basically, not dying has taken up an incredible amount of time recently!

Getting ill is strange after having had cancer.  In a strange way, it takes me back to those old moments.  Laying in bed recovering = feeling like I have just had chemotherapy.  Going back and forth for hospital appointments = feeling like I am waiting to get some horrible life-changing results.  It is amazing how the brain can immediately trick you into thinking something else is going on and bring old emotions back up.  In some ways, the biggest challenge getting better was the mental battle rather than the physical one.

Needless to say, all of this put me rather behind with work, University and writing but I am finally getting back into the swing of things and I’m still in that dizzyingly excited period you get after you’ve been ill for a long time, where you just want to throw yourself into everything because it is just such a relief not to feel ill.

Writing

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.53.04However, in March I did have a short story, ‘Connected’, published in Fifty George Street literary journal.  It’s future fiction, imagining what it might be like trying to stay connected in a technological world.

You can read it on the Fifty George Street website.

Reading

I have read some wonderful books in the first quarter of this year, so I wanted to recommend my top 3 but I am finding it so hard to choose!  So I have ended up going for 4.  All 4 books are emotional but amazing and take you on a complete journey of the heart.  I highly recommend them all to you…

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Maillot ~ The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss ~ Soho by Richard Scott ~ Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Writing Workshop

After listening to the wonderful feedback I have received from people who have taken part in the ‘Let’s Start Writing’ workshop they have a had a bit of a revamp to include the chance to get more feedback on your writing.  I am thrilled with it and can’t wait to get started on Monday 7th May.  If you think you may be interested, please sign up here!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop starting Monday 18th March 2019

£20.00

For the rest of the month, I plan on getting on with writing and working and giving my body time to get stronger and stronger.  What have you been up to?  What have you been reading, writing and doing?  Leave a comment down below so we can have a chat.

Happy April x

Come with me to Los Angeles!

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

Virtual Book Tour Love

Gosh I wish I really could feel that LA heat BUT let’s Virtually head over there and visit Esme Winterflood at her LA Lash Studio on Venice Beach.

Esme is sharing her excerpt from The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer where she gives all the tips and tricks for lashes when you are going through chemotherapy.

So head over and visit Esme Winterflood here

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We still have loads more to come with our Virtual Book Tour so make sure that you sign up here to stay up to date with everything that’s going on and remember to pass it on! xx

Did you see the previous Virtual Book Tour stops?

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-09-25-45.pngTalent Keepers
Guest post ‘Managing Employees Returning from Critical Illness’
Read all about it here!

 
Nicola Jane screenshot.pngNicola Jane
The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer was Nicola Jane’s first ‘Book of the Month’
Read all about it here!

Still to come…

I will be meeting some fabulous women over the coming weeks so stay tuned and pass it on to anyone else who might be interested!

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7 Best Books for the New Year

To Love To Read, Uncategorized

I can’t believe we are already three weeks into the new year.  If you love the feeling of a fresh page that can come with a new year, why not settle down with an awesome book about new beginnings and starting over to inspire you in 2017!  Here are some of my favourite…

Unknown.jpeg1. The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

One of the things I love about it is that although it is about new beginnings she doesn’t abandon her whole life to make it happen (despite the name), she discovers a new way to enjoy what she already has – although some much-needed changes are made along the way.  A book about fiding your own inner strength and making positive changes.

This book is  also wonderfully uplifting

 

 

Unknown-1.jpeg2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I have spoken about this book before.  It is moving and powerful and you may need some tissues at the ready.    The main theme of this book is identity and how much you identity is tied into your family and the people around you, as well as asking the question about if it is possible to ever really ‘start over’ again.

A moving book that is highly recommended.

 

 

Unknown-2.jpeg3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you haven’t read the book then I am sure you have seen the movie with Julia Roberts (which I equally love).  This book is creative non-fiction and Gilbert’s personal experience of the year after her divorce.  Its honest and moving and will probably have you wanting to travel the world by the end.

Touching and inspiring novel.

 

 

images.jpeg4. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This is a poignant and moving novel – especially in light of the recent inauguration and possible wall building – is about people moving to the United States of America as a way to make a new life and discover their place in the world.  Themes of family, identity and what it means to be an ‘American’ wrapped in a story about different forms of love.

A novel to make you questions why people do the things they do.

 

Unknown-4.jpeg5. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben

This is a great book to start the year with.  Another non-fiction book in which Ruben decides to start the year making changes to her life to make herself happier.  Ruben does a new thing every month with each chapter showing what she does that month so you can try to emulate these ideas.  In my case I didn’t follow everything but picked out the parts that I knew would work for me.

Great read to motivate yourself.

 

Unknown-5.jpeg6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Two books by Elizabeth Gilbert on one list – outrageous!  But if you write books about making changes and positive living, I guess that’s inevitable on this type of list.  I’m such a massive fan of this book, all about living creatively which is clearly completely up my street.  You don’t have to be in a creative industry or anything, this book is more about being creative everyday and is a great place to start bringing joy and creativity into your life.

Inspiring, creative living.

 

Unknown-6.jpeg7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Again, even if you haven’t read the book you may have seen the awesome film.  The plot is not a million miles away from Eat, Pray, Love in that its a woman trying to figure out what makes her tick after the loss of her mother and recent divorce.  Rather than travelling the world she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, spending much time on her own to reflect and think.

Very honest and raw reflective memoir of change.

 

Please do comment below and let me know if you have read any of the books and what you think of them, and what books you would recommend that are around based around new beginnings or starting over.

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Holy Island by LJ Ross – Book Review

To Love To Read

I am just going to put it out there right now that LJ Ross is a friend of mine but when it comes to book reviews this could be a double-edged sword!  When purchasing her debut novel Holy Island I was suddenly faced with an awkward realisation – what if I hate it?  Or (possibly even worse) what if it’s just all terribly average and I have absolutely nothing to say about it?

Oh my gosh. I loved it!

It was the perfect blend of mystery, characters and emotions.  I loved the language, Ross had a Unknownbrilliant way of using a select few words to convey something immeasurably powerful.  Generally I am not a fan of descriptive scenery but just as Lucy Clarke does in her novels, Ross brings the Holy Island landscape to life, making the Island itself integral to the story and one of the lead characters in the book.  I am now desperate to visit Holy Island!  The characters were all so strong with different facets of their personalities coming through as the story unfolds.

In hindsight I don’t know what I was worried.  I know that someone as awesome as LJ Ross was only going to write something awesome.  I happen to know that she is working on her 2nd book at the moment, I am definitely going to be trying to steal a peek to see what’s coming next!!

5 out of 5 – a must read of 2015.

Holy Island is available exclusively through Amazon

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Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse – Book Review

To Love To Read

I haven’t posted a book review for a while.  The reason being, I have struggled to get into a book.  That was until Me Before You by Lucie Whitehouse.  This book moves at a quick pace (which I love), keeping you turning the pages as rapidly as you can.

before we met

Although it is building up to something, I was still taken by surprise by what the twist was and although I suspected the ending, its delivery was still surprising and not quite what I thought.  The narrative moves between the past and present and at some points I thought it could have been a little clearer when jumping between the two.

All in all a fantastic book that I would highly recommend – as long as you don’t mind being kept up late because you just need to read one more chapter!! 🙂

Happy reading x

Beginners Guide to Blogging

What's Happening?, Writing & Blogging

I am so completely and beyond thrilled that my little blog has inspired others to start blogging.  My blog really is still a baby, recently having it’s typewritter blog 21st birthday.  There are a few things that I have learnt over the last year that I thought I would share with my newbie bloggers…

Tweet Tweet

If you haven’t used Twitter before it can seem a touch overwhelming but it is honestly easy once you get the hang of it and if I can do it, anyone can.  Most importantly it is amazing for bloggers as you can easily interact with people interested in what you are saying.

  • ALWAYS tweet a link to your latest post.
  • Make sure you use a #hashtag when tweeting about whatever your blog post is about so people can easily search for the content.
  • Follow others and reply to their tweets.  The more your name starting flashing up over twitter the more chance of people reading your blog.

Find Your Voice

There is so much information available on the internet that what people are looking for when reading blogs is a bit of personality, to really hear someone’s voice and understand their  experience.  A lot of my blog is about my experience with cancer and a colostomy, books I have read, places I have been, tips I can pass on through my knowledge or experience – not just a generic, this is what I researched and this is what I found.  I do incorporate those posts (although very much in my style) but it is the personal ones that people always relate and respond too.

vintage cameraPictures!

When faced with a long piece of writing, can look a bit drab, chuck in some pictures and it gives it some spark.  Using photo’s you have taken is always easiest, saves the whole copyright debacle but there are websites that supply free pictures should you so wish.

No Waffling

Attention spans are much shorter when reading online than in-print so keep blog posts much more specific and to the point.  I personally set an 1000 word limit on a bulky topic like cancer, 500 for a review type post.  Anything longer, people will switch off before they get to the end.

Keep Writing

Sounds obviously but with life / work / kids all getting in the way….  If you want to keep your stats up and readership high, then you need to keep posting.  When I have been quiet (like over the summer) the posts that I do post, don’t get anywhere near as much attention as the ones that I post when I am posting all the time – does that make sense?!  Having said that, don’t just be throwing out rubbish.  People will only keep reading, and you will only produce something you are truly proud of, if the posts are high quality contact.

photo copy 3Give Yourself a Chance

It takes time to build a blog, readership, followers, it wont happen over night, but that’s fine.  It takes time to experienced at anything, including blogging.  I would say it took a year before I felt my blog was really moving in the direction I wanted and getting recognition from it.  Use that time to keep posting, get together some great content and build your confidence anmd don’t worry about how quickly other blogs are growing.  I recently read on twitter,

Weeds grow faster than tree’s, it doesn’t make them better

Love this quote and seriously, how true?

Happy blogging and comment below with your blog links x

 

Are there any tips that you would share?  Please pop them in the comment box (right at the very very bottom of the post page… keep scrolling, it is down there I promise)

Hot Days Summer Reading

To Love To Read

Laying on a sunlonger, feeling the heat, none of the day-to-day stuff to worry about, absorbed in a fantastic book – heaven!  It’s not quite that simple now I have children but still a little more time that normal.

A few lovely people have been asking me what I would recommend for them to read on holiday.  You can look at my ‘To Love To Read’ section and see the books I have read recently and loved and from there my favourites would be The Fault in Our Stars, The Shock of the Fall, A Single Breath and Precious Thing, but  here are a few others you might want to consider, plus what I will be taking with me on holiday.

My Recommendations

  • The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke – This was Lucy’s debut novel and also a Richard & Judy must read.  Set at gorgeous locations all over the world and with a twisting story to unfold, I think its a beach must have.
  • The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty – I devoured this book.  Makes you think, what secrets would you keep to protect the ones you love.
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – If you really want to get stuck into a long book, set in a different time and different continent but deeply emotional and heartfelt then I would recommend this old classic.

My Hot Summer Reads

  • Curious: True Stories and Loose Connections by Rebecca Front – I know Rebecca as an actress but it turns out she is also written some of my favourite comedy shows.  This is a book of witty tales from her life and I do love a good laugh, especially when reading on holiday so I am seriously looking forward to this book.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – This has been on my book shelf for a while and given the size I just haven’t started it, holiday will be the perfect time to read this Man Booker Prize winning novel.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – The author of memoirs Eat Pray Love and Committed has written her first novel which I am looking forward to reading.

What are you Hot Summer must have reads?  I am happy to be over optimistic about the amount of reading time so want to add a few more to the pile.  Let me know in the comments section…

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XOXO

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom – Book Review

To Love To Read

This book was recommended to me by a couple of people, but I have no idea how I had never read this book before.  I had never even heard of it and I am now so thankful that I have it in my life.  It is the most profound book and I challenge anyone not to feel their perspective changed and improved as a result of reading this book -and to not fall in love with the wonderful Morrie.

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The book, the story, the words, everything about Tuesdays with Morrie is just beautiful.    It was Morrie’s last wish that this story was put into the world and it is such a gift to everyone who reads it.  I believe this is the sort of book people should read once every couple of years, just to remind us what’s important and enjoy these wonderful words.

I would have loved to hear a little more detail of their conversations and about Morrie specifically, his family.  Those things were quickly moved over and for such a short book, I think he could have given more detail here.  But that is probably just because I am in love with Morrie and want to know everything about him!

I could not recommend this book enough to everyone.

Enjoy.  A complete 4.5 out of 5

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth – Book Review

To Love To Read

I am not sure how to start when reviewing Precious Thing.  To say I loved it, is far to bland.  I love coffee but that feeling is no where near close to how much I was totally enthralled by this book.

For me this book has everything.  A storyline that keeps you guessing all the way along.  Some parts I started to see coming, then they were inevitably delivered in a way or with a twist that I wasn’t expecting.  The characters were imperfect in a way that made them totally relatable and from the off you were completely caught in the most gripping story.  The writing was unquestionably some of the best I have read.  There were so many layers to this book which were delicately dissected but at a really good pace that kept the story ploughing forward page after page.  And you feel just about every emotion reading this book, at one point my heart was physically thumping in my chest when suspicion was building in a chapter.

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I adored the way it was written in the first person with the protagonist talking directly to her friend.  It’s like you have found a secret letter between the two of them, making the story, lies and truth even more compounding.  This narrative made the story not only more believable but like you really were experiencing it first hand.

Even though it was in the first person, the author Colette McBeth had an incredible way of still showing you other people’s sides of the story, just enough to let you realise that the story may not be everything that is being told to you.  It really was so clever.

I read the other day the test of a true book is the feeling that it leaves you with afterwards.  You may not remember every word but you remember how it made you feel and it keeps ticking over in your head.  This is that book.  I can all but guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!

A hands down, fantastic 5 out of 5! x

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke – Book Review

To Love To Read

Lucy Clarke’s debut novel The Sea Sisters was my unexpected book of 2013 so I was very excited about her second novel coming out.

A Single Breath was an easy beautiful read.  You get thrown into the action, after which the first half was a lot of scene setting, the second half is where the action is and the story starts to unravel, so I was truly in a race to get there.  The number of twists was incredible, just when you think the book is one thing it turns into something else.  Like an onion peeling off layer and layer which meant I truly struggled to put this book down.  I can’t imagine how the author Lucy Clarke manages to plot a story like this.

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What I love about Lucy Clarke’s books is her ability to bring such mystery to the story.  It is not just which path will the heroine take but will she be able to figure out what happening so that she can choose the correct path.

I am not a big fan of long descriptive settings of which there are quite a lot of but in A Single Breath is equates to so much more than just description.  The setting is so integral it makes another lead character in the book and the descriptions so beautiful I am now desperate to go to Tasmania… not sure I even knew where it really was before reading this book (terrible but true).  I must say the thought of the travel ‘research’ the author must do makes me a little green with envy as it sounds so fabulous and is translated beautifully into her writing.

A Single Breath is an absolute must read of 2014.

I give this book a fab 4 Stars out of 5

Happy reading xxx