Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Talking about 'Her Last Lie' on BBC Three Counties Radio

On Friday, I was thrilled to be invited onto BBC Three Counties Radio, to talk about Her Last Lie, and why I'm giving my royalties to Cancer Research UK.

I arrived at the studio in Dunstable a wee bit early. I didn't want to be late. It was a cold but bright day, and I felt a wee bit strange as we walked towards the BBC building. In fact, it felt  surreal, as though it was all about to happen to someone else.

After my husband had snapped a photo of me standing outside, I pressed the buzzer, and was let in by a smiley man who told me to take a seat in reception.

Within a few minutes, the producer of ‘Mystery Guest’ Kady Braine appeared. She was so friendly; my nerves began to melt away. Although when she offered me a cup of tea, I declined, as I would probably have spilt the tea all over the floor. I can't be trusted!

She told me briefly what would happen next, and then left me for about ten minutes.

When she reappeared, I was taken to a small studio. Inside was a mic, and I popped on headphones, and listened to Nick Coffer on air for a while, amusing his audience with funny anecdotes, before he played some music.

When the music stopped, I was on air, and my heart was thumping a bit too hard. Nick asked me questions, trying to guess why I was there. He got the reason pretty quickly, although I gave him a huge clue – that the only thing I ever exercised is my fingers. (True story!)

More music, as I was taken through to Nick’s snazzy studio and sat down opposite him, another mic inches from my face.

Questions followed, and Nick carried me through brilliantly, as I told him about Her Last Lie and the reasons why I’m giving my royalties to Cancer Research UK. Talking about my sister brought a lump to my throat, but hopefully nobody noticed.

It was a brilliant experience, and one I will remember always.

Her Last Lie is, by some kind of miracle, is a #no.1 bestseller, and can be bought from Amazon or iBooks for just 99p. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Her Last Lie

I’m excited to share the cover of my soon-to-be-published debut novel. I think it's rather lovely, and am in awe of the extremely talented designer.
After 9 years of writing fiction, it feels surreal that I will have a novel in the world soon. And I guess it proves we should never give up on our dreams. (Although I came pretty close at times, I can tell you!)

As you may already know, this is extra special for me, as all my royalties for downloads will go to Cancer Research UK in memory of my amazing sister. Cancer affects so many of us, and I do hope I can raise some money for such a good cause.

Her Last Lie can be pre-ordered at 99p from Amazon HERE and will be published on 9th January 2018.  I'd be delighted if you popped over. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has given me so much support.  I feel so lucky to have met so many lovely people since my blogging journey began way back in 2008.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Are titles important for stories and novels? & 'Her Last Lie'

When I  started writing stories nine years ago, I spent ages choosing my titles. The more imaginative, I believed, the better. But it didn't take me long to realise a fair few of those titles would never be used for my published stories.

So is the title we choose important?
Well, I think so. And I still put time into choosing them. Just because a magazine doesn’t use a title, doesn't mean the title won't catch an editor’s eye.
It’s the same with novels. An agent or publisher could be tempted to read your chapters if they are attracted to your title. It really is worth putting the time into picking a perfect title, one that tells what genre the novel is, without having to read a word.
However, like short stories, novel titles may be changed too. I went to see a well-known writer do an excellent talk locally, and she said all the titles of her books – five in all – had had their titles changed by her publishers. So however amazing your title is – and even if it has grabbed an agent/publisher’s eye – it’s likely it could be changed.
Which brings me onto the BRAND NEW title of my debut psychological thriller.
It’s shiny new title is Her Last Lie, which I’m delighted about.  I feel it fits the ‘psychological thriller’ market perfectly.
Her Last Lie is available to pre-order on Amazon HERE at 99p, with all my royalties for downloads going to Cancer Research UK, in memory of my sister.
The cover-reveal will be happening any time soon, and I will be popping that on here too as soon as I get it into my excited mitts. 
I must admit it all feels a tiny bit surreal.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Losing a sister to cancer.

My sister and I used to laugh when we imagined ourselves as two little old ladies, putting the world to rights. It seems impossible to think that will never be.

In July my lovely sister died of cancer. She was 55-years-old, and an amazing, funny, strong and beautiful person. She was my best friend.

It was terminal cancer, so we’d known for over three years that the day would come when we would have to say goodbye. For me, most of that time was spent in denial. I would tell her I knew what the future held; she would insist I hadn’t really accepted it. She was right. But then I was hoping for a miracle.

Reality hit with an enormous thud earlier this year. Miracles melted away. A painful headache and a seizure found us in A & E. A scan followed, and after several torturous hours we were told the cancer had spread to her brain.

There was a 50% chance that radiation would shrink the tumours and give her longer. But while she was having the radiation, she also had her regular scan on her liver.

The results from that scan revealed there was nothing more they could do.

What followed was an ‘end of life’ talk. That’s when my sister finally crumbled. She’d been so, so brave throughout – but being told what to expect just before death was understandably too much for both of us. My heart seemed to tighten when the news came. I felt hopeless, helpless, angry, sad, desperate – there aren’t enough words to describe the emotions I felt.

But I still thought we had time. More time. Precious time.

We had no idea how soon it would be. We weren’t told. But the doctor was concerned that her skin had started to yellow. My sister began to feel so tired, but the medical staff thought it could be the radiation causing that. So we stayed ever hopeful that we had longer.

But it wasn’t the radiation causing her exhaustion. Her liver was failing.

She moved in with us, and we thought we would have months together, but everything happened so quickly. Six days later she passed away.

I try to tell myself that we shared three happy years after diagnosis. That we were lucky to have had so many happy times together where she did all the things she loved doing. And, of course, I have memories stretching back to when we were children.

But I felt far from lucky. I felt numb, my body ached, I didn’t know what to do with the feelings that made me feel so helpless. I’d never felt pain like it.

Before she died, she promised she would find a way of telling me she was OK. She told me exactly where she would leave a white feather. The day after she died there was a feather in the exact spot she said there would be one. I go from believing she put it there, to thinking I’m being silly, crazy, daft. 

Because when someone you love dies, you do question your own sanity. The whole make up of who you are seems to shift on its axis.

Lately I see white feathers absolutely everywhere. Maybe my sister is getting a bit miffed with me for not believing, and throwing feathers in my path. I can hear her playful voice saying ‘Here you go, have lots, if you don’t believe me.’ But it’s more likely white feathers have always littered the grass verges, and clung to trees, and I’m only noticing them now. But I know what I want to believe.

Grief is numbing, crippling, it made me feel ill, sick, knotted with pain. I didn’t feel like myself at all. Nothing I have ever felt comes close to the agony that consumed me after the loss of my sister, and life will never be the same because there’s a huge hole where she had been by my side for the whole of my life.

I keep hearing her upbeat voice in my head – telling me to carry on, but I have to tell her I’m so, so sorry, but it’s far too hard right now. ‘You’ll get there,’ she tells me. ‘You have to.’

And as the days became weeks, and now the weeks are turning into months, I try to be strong. I do as much as I can to keep busy, as I find it helps. But it’s the triggers that catch me and make me cry when I least expect it, like when I was in Tesco I spotted a jacket with a soft collar I knew she would have loved. I go days sometimes, where thoughts of her give me comfort, and then other times I can’t stop crying. I’m not sure if I will ever get over losing my sister, but I hope, in time, I will learn to live with it.

I debated for a while whether to put up this blog post. It’s very personal, and was written to help me process my thoughts. But I decided to post it today, because through the worst of the pain, I found similar posts from others comforting. My blog doesn’t get many visitors anymore, but if just one person stumbles upon my words, and it helps them a little, it was worth posting.