Why I won’t be having a party for my 40th

When a friend posted on Facebook about her birthday, asking friends whether she should party or cry, I began to think of my own impending big 4 – 0 at the end of this year. Party or cry? Which would I do?

How do I actually feel about turning 40? I think on a subconscious level, I’m not too happy about it. There’s this big thing about turning 40; a big taboo that says once you turn 40, you’re officially OLD. Your youth is behind you and you’re in that realm of being past your best. Your body is getting tired, and it’s beginning to slow down and not work quite as effectively as it should. I think a lot of this thinking stems from the unavoidable female CHANGE that we all must go through at some point, some earlier; some later than others. It’s the end of an era, the end of your ‘womanhood’ as you know it.

But think back to when you were only just a teenager, before puberty. Were you any less of a girl? Did you not have the latest crush pinned to your bedroom wall, or write and swoon about THAT dreamy boy in school who never looked twice at you?

Self-Development

I’m a big fan of self-help books; of the ones that focus on developing the self. Recent additions to my read-books (yes, I’ve actually started to FINISH reading books again!) collection include The Miracle Morning by Hal Erod, which promotes the fact that we can achieve so much more each day by rising early and with PURPOSE and passion for the day ahead (as opposed to repeatedly hitting the snooze button and delving further under the duvet); and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. One of my favourite aspects of this book is the concept that you can’t find true happiness without sacrificing what you want NOW for what you want LATER. For example; I want to be a bestselling author. But it’s not going to happen overnight. I need to work on, and hone my craft. I cannot stop working on developing my skills and improving myself, because I won’t become a bestselling author without all that hard work. The point is, we need to keep our end sights in goal and continually work towards that end goal. We live in an instant gratification society and want material items and results NOW, but the truth is we can’t have them without putting the work in first. You want the latest iPad? You’re going to have to earn the money to pay for it first. And that’s a much better feeling than paying for it with credit and then living with that nagging guilt that you now have a debt to pay off hanging over your head, because you WORKED for it.

A new era

I’ve recently gone back to work full time, which means certain things are having to be put on hold while I settle into a routine of juggling full-time work, motherhood, and everything else that comes with running a house and managing the lives of small people. But for me, it’s a period of self-development, of self-discovery after 6 years of being out of the workplace. Much has changed, but then much hasn’t. As a person, I have changed. I’m a mother now, and my life isn’t just about me anymore. I go to work, and yet I have to consider the small people either side of the work day. I can’t simply go into work early, or stay late. These things have to be carefully planned, like everything else in life.

But, returning to work after a period of full-time motherhood and focusing primarily on the children is like a period of rebirth. Much like when I went back to work for the first time after 6 months of chemo, it’s like starting work for the first time. It’s a chance at a new beginning; a new era of your life.

Failing at life

My twenties were a whirlwind of unfulfilling jobs, of failed relationships after failed relationship, of death and grief and losing loved ones, and a huge life-wake-up call of being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. It made me question why I was the person I was. Why did bad things always happen to me? Why did life keep failing me? In fact, I had been failing at life. I had no clear vision of my own values, and no self-worth. I didn’t realise that I was deserving of great things, and that it was within my own power to make my life great, until I was faced with that ugly word; CANCER. It’s a word I associate with death and decay, a disease that feeds off negativity. But that diagnosis forced me to stop. My body was sending me a very clear message: STOP. Slow down. Stop the self-neglect and PAY ATTENTION. Cherish your body, and nurture your soul. Much like cultivating a garden, I needed the right levels of nutrition, plenty of water, the right amount of light, and the right position to flourish. There are few plants you can leave on their own in the wrong conditions, and expect them to live without care and attention, and I’m grateful for that life-changing grenade which forced me to take stock, pick up the pieces, rebuild and change my direction and perception forever.

Learning curve

My late twenties/early thirties were a learning curve of marriage and motherhood. I gave up work at the age of 32 to focus on being a full-time mother, and went on to have two more babies, one of whom we heartbreakingly lost at 27 weeks. Dear Poppy was born prematurely through illness, and survived just 40 minutes while they attempted to resuscitate her. But she had foetal hydrops, and there was no way on this earth they could inflate her water-logged lungs. The kind of grief a mother goes through is one that can not compare to any other. You pine for your missing baby. Your body knows you’ve given birth, and so your milk comes in. You desperately want to feed her, to hold her, to comfort her. But your body doesn’t know that your baby isn’t there to lap up the nourishment, to grow and flourish from the liquid gold it is ready and waiting to deliver. You feel as though a part of you is missing. But slowly, over time, the pain lessens. It never goes away, and bringing it to the surface HURTS. So I don’t think about it. And I don’t think about having had cancer. I don’t dwell on the fact my dearly missed dad and step-dad are no longer here, missing out on their granddaughters who will never meet them. Or my dearly missed grandparents who I can no longer just pop in to see when I feel like it.

I don’t think about these things, because I always look to the future. I always look to what’s next, not what’s behind me.

Riding the rollercoaster

Life is one big rollercoaster and you can choose terror, or exhilaration. Which is why I’m not having a party for my 40th. I’m going to do something exhilarating instead. Maybe not quite a bungee-jump or parachuting out of an aeroplane (I’m not as crazy as my husband – and I have kids). Maybe a half-marathon. Or a trip to Niagara Falls. Something INCREDIBLE.

Because we only have one life. And we only have one chance to enjoy it. Turning 40 doesn’t mean the end of your youth. It means maturity and understanding. It means beginning. And it means new adventures.

It’s my life, and I dare to dream… Then live it. ❤️

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Book Review: Haven, by Lindsay J. Pryor 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

She’s done it again. 

It never fails to amaze me the incredible skill that Lindsay J. Pryor has for creating a world – a world that’s been in the making for a very long time. Settings and plot lines and districts and locales, full-bodied characters with enough history to fill a library. 

The dedication she’s made to her stories; her characters, and the world in which they are embroiled, is incredible. 

Haven is the first standalone book in Ms. Pryor’s new series: Lowtown; a spin-off to the incredibly addictive Blackthorn series. 

Except herein lies the difference. The Blackthorn novels span an 8-book series (the desperately-awaited finale currently in the making), with overarching storylines weaved within an incredibly intricate plot. And while each book leaves you with that odd thrill mixed with a sense of desperation, of NEEDING to know what happens in the next book in the series, sometimes you need a well-rounded novel to give you that fully-satisfied feeling of starter, main course and dessert. A novel like Haven. 

However, the gratification we crave is always just that one step ahead where Haven is concerned; there are plenty of sharp twists and turns and shock revelations to leave you guessing right up until the last minute, to keep you turning the page and in danger of a serious lack of sleep. 

True to form, Ms Pryor has beautifully gift-wrapped (and the wrapping is certainly appreciated when it comes to one particular male lead) and delivered us some wonderful characters with issues akin to real life – and they’re not your average human-nature problems. These character flaws go deep – she’s not afraid to pack the layers. 

Because this novel is not just about romance. Or the paranormal. It’s about power, about real-life struggles. About danger. Death. Destruction. And all the crap the universe could possibly throw at you in one lifetime. 

It’s clever. It’s dark. It’s intense. 

Honestly? You need to read this book now. Click here for buy links. 

(Thank you to Piatkus Fiction for supplying me with a no-obligation paperback copy of this delicious novel, in return for which I gratefully leave my review.)

The blurb

A spin-off from the bestselling Blackthorn series by Lindsay J. Pryor, set in Lowtown, the neighbouring district to Blackthorn. The product of a brutal class system, the dark, gritty world of Lowtown will grip you and never let you go.

Every few days the handsome stranger comes into the café in Lowtown for an hour a time. Most of the time he keeps himself to himself – one drink and he leaves. Sometimes people meet with him but about what remains elusive, the edge of mystery and danger adding to his allure.

Not that Ember is allowed to think about him. She’s finally on the cusp of gaining her citizenship and escaping Lowtown for good, so she can’t be seen to be involved with a vampire – evidence of one single bite would be the end of her prospects. But when those prospects are rocked by her links to the district’s dark underbelly, the stranger she must avoid could be her absolution – and she could be his . . .

Haven.

That one word is all we need.

Because today’s the day that Haven – A Lowtown novel – is finally released.

Haven is the first book in the new standalone series by Lindsay J. Pryor – the spin-off to the absolutely fantastic Blackthorn series.

The build-up has been spectacular.

The excitement, the suspense, and the sheer delight as we countdown the days until this amazing author has her first – undeniably well-deserved – print publication.

Huge congratulations, and happy publication day, Ms. Pryor!

HAVEN – A Lowtown Novel

 HRHAVEN

A spin-off from the bestselling Blackthorn series by Lindsay J. Pryor, set in Lowtown, the neighbouring district to Blackthorn. The product of a brutal class system, the dark, gritty world of Lowtown will grip you and never let you go.

Every few days the handsome stranger comes into the café in Lowtown for an hour a time. Most of the time he keeps himself to himself – one drink and he leaves. Sometimes people meet with him but about what remains elusive, the edge of mystery and danger adding to his allure.

Not that Ember is allowed to think about him. She’s finally on the cusp of gaining her citizenship and escaping Lowtown for good, so she can’t be seen to be involved with a vampire – evidence of one single bite would be the end of her prospects. But when those prospects are rocked by her links to the district’s dark underbelly, the stranger she must avoid could be her absolution – and she could be his . . .

WOW

 

Lindsay J. PryorLindsay J. Pryor is the author of the Amazon bestselling BLACKTHORN series, her dark, complex and gritty urban paranormal romances having achieved numerous Gothic and PNR number ones in both the UK and the US. LOWTOWN, a spin-off from the Blackthorn world, is her upcoming urban fantasy series of standalone books.

Quickly deciding that fantasy was more interesting than reality, Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old. She holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology and Communication and is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. She taught for eighteen years before becoming a full-time author.

Lindsay was born and grew up in Wales and now lives in South West England with her husband, their rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.

BLACKTHORN is published by Bookouture. Her LOWTOWN novels are being published by Piatkus (Little, Brown Book Group).

To find out more about Lindsay and her books, please visit her website: lindsayjpryor.com

Website http://www.lindsayjpryor.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lindsayjpryor.author

Twitter http://twitter.com/lindsayjpryor

Pinterest http://uk.pinterest.com/lindsayjpryor

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/lindsay.j.pryor

 

Haven: A Lowtown Novel

Buy Links

iBooks http://apple.co/2uOjXkl

Waterstones http://bit.ly/2un4iYI

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2udfh5t

KOBO http://bit.ly/2tSm9Dj

Amazon US (for eBook) http://amzn.to/2vzifl4

Amazon US (for paperback) http://a.co/cT6hwyt

Amazon http://a.co/9hmDloA

Amazon ANZ http://amzn.to/2uN9CFW

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2yoeSxC

Amazon.ca http://a.co/eZ6XoQP

Indigo http://bit.ly/2jXHbRe

 

 

Book Review: The Keepers: Archer, by Rae Rivers

The Keepers: Archer (The Keepers #1)The Keepers: Archer by Rae Rivers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sienna.

A powerful Beckham Witch, and her Keepers. And the forbidden feelings between Sienna… and one particular Keeper: Archer.

Sienna and her Keepers (brothers Archer, Ethan and Declan) have grown up together. They’re blood-bound to protect her. They’ll do anything to keep her safe. But things get a little tricky when Sienna and Archer can’t deny their growing attraction to each other – there’s an ancient curse that prevents them from being together, and if they ignore that curse, the results could be catastrophic. Except, that’s not all, because they’re also fighting a very real evil that could threaten everything they stand for and the world as they know it. The forbidden love story in this paranormal romance is brilliantly interwoven with a fabulous story arc of thrills, suspense and page-turning excitement.

Rae Rivers has a fantastic way of bringing her characters to life – and bring them to life she does. The action is powerful, the magic scenes so vividly written they should come with a health warning – you could feel yourself whipped up in a wind storm. I love a book where I feel as though I’m watching a movie, and Ms Rivers does exactly this when portraying a character’s mannerisms. One of the characters in the book reminded me of a certain MC in The Vampire Diaries (TV series) – and if you’re a fan of the Vampire Diaries, you’ll have to check this series out to decipher who I’m referring to.

With Archer (and the prequel Sienna) already demonstrating fantastic story-telling with plenty of page-turning suspense, The Keepers series promises to be a rollercoaster ride, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

View all my reviews

Here’s the Blurb

‘Don’t ever look for me again, Archer.’
His mouth curled into a smile. ‘Game on.’

Central Park. Sienna Beckham is out jogging in the autumn sun, feeling almost ordinary. Trouble is, she’ll never be. She’s on the run from her life as a powerful witch and the three Keepers blood-bound to protect her.

Evil is hot on Sienna’s tail and Archer Bennett is searching for her, desperate to find her before they do. As one of her Keepers, he will fight to his death to defend her.

Sienna must return and defend her hometown, Rapid Falls – but she has to face the past and master her powers. And as forbidden feelings blossom between Sienna and Archer, will their love survive the ultimate war?

The Keepers: three strong and handsome warrior brothers, born to protect.

Click here for more details and buy links.

Book Review: The Writer and The Rake, by Shehanne Moore

The Writer and the Rake (Time Mutants #2)The Writer and the Rake by Shehanne Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a bit of time travel romance, so I was looking forward to falling into this story and discovering how the two main characters would stumble across each other – or, in the heroine’s case, appear in the 18th century in the blink of an eye.

Brittany is your classic heroine; she portrays a strong, don’t-mess-with-me, nothing-can-hurt-me-exterior, but as the story moves on you begin to notice cracks in her resolve.

It took me a while to warm to Mitchell, however, as he came across as conceited and totally void of emotion and empathy. Except this is where Ms Moore has written her colourful, full-bodied characters so well. They are perfectly flawed, because no-one is ever as they seem on the surface.

The overall story arc is beautifully chaotic, comical and a touching read. It left me with that wistful sigh of the happy-ever-after, and tailed-off thoughts of… what happens next?

I’ve not read The Viking and the Courtesan, but it’s definitely being added to my TBR pile.

View all my reviews

Haven by Lindsay J Pryor

Can’t wait to read this book, love Lindsay Pryor’s writing 😊

Book Aholic Dawn

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*EXCITING NEWS ALERT!*

YAY!! Piatkus Fiction have let me know that paperbacks of HAVEN are now available for pre-order in the US and Canada on the following sites:

USA

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2yoeSxC

Amazon http://a.co/9hmDloA

CANADA

Amazon http://a.co/eZ6XoQP

Indigo http://bit.ly/2jXHbRe

AND….

We’ve now got less than 6 weeks to go until publication day! My loyal followers here will know what that means… I sense the onset of giveaways coming VERY soon. 😉 Don’t stray too far if you don’t want to miss anything! 😍🤗

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How’s Your Handwriting? 

“It looks like a spider dipped its boots in an inkwell and ran all over the page.”

So, I’m curious. As a fellow creative, is your handwriting an illegible mess, or do you take your time perfecting the curls and flicks of your letters and words?

I recently read a post on handwriting from the lovely lady over at Plutonium Sox, and it’s inspired my own post out of interest in other writers and their habits. 

The post discusses the differences in learning how to write, and how handwriting can help with fine motor skills. 

It took me back to my own learning experience in Primary School; I specifically recall learning joined-up writing, and I remember being really worried that my handwriting looked terrible, and not how I imagined it should do. 

I wanted neat, cutesy-handwriting, and writing joined-up just made my writing look ‘ugly’. I asked the headteacher if I could just write without joining up my letters, and to my delight he yes (we’re talking 30 years ago!), when I was scared the answer would be no. 

The result now is a kind of handwriting that my husband declared as ‘looks like a spider dipped its boots in an inkwell and ran all over the page.’ It’s a combination of printed and joined-up letters where my writing has developed a style all of its own. 

But I don’t care that my handwriting looks like an Arachnid Assault On Paper. Handwriting is such a personal thing, and is as individual as a thumbprint. I think it reflects us as a person. Having said that, as a creative, my handwriting can get pretty messy, as my brain works faster than my hand, and I trip over letters as I write. 


If I’m working on something that I want to be visually pleasing, I like to take my time ‘handwriting’ and get very cross when I’m having a ‘bad handwriting day’! 

Mostly I give up and decide to use a computer. I type faster, and can get more creative when it’s not word-related. I can even get more creative when it IS word-related. Such as changing colours/fonts etc. 

But there’s something really satisfying about free-writing with ink and paper. It makes the soul sing. 

What’s your tool of choice when it comes to being creative? 

I am trying…

Trying

 

My mum once told me I was very trying. I’m not really sure what she meant, I try hard at everything I do, but I’m pretty sure there was a note of sarcasm in there somewhere. 

I know I need to pick my subjects for school, but I have no idea what I want to do. I mean, who does? All the while I try to decide, the only thing I can see is his eyes, watching me, waiting, expectant for my kiss. In my dreams. He’d never look at me in real life. Mousy Brienne Smith? No-one notices me, not anywhere.  

As if to prove my point, I am pushed to one side by the actual Josh Brendan, jostling my shoulder as they rush past for breaktime, knocking me into the wall. No calls of ‘oh, sorry, Brienne! Didn’t see you there! How are you?’  

‘Ow!’ I called after him, the scowl in my forehead giving me a headache. ‘You know you should look where you’re going?!’ He turned around and actually looked through me, frowned, shrugged his shoulders and then carried on going. Seconds later, I realise I am standing, gawping at the space he no longer occupied, as the children dissipate around me, disappearing into the toilets or outside to hang around the tennis courts. There are a select few who will disappear down to the bikesheds for a crafty cigarette, as if they don’t know the teachers know they all do it. Occasionally one of them will saunter down there, and the smokers will scatter like ants in a disturbed nest. 

I sit huddled on a bench during breaktime. The egg-heads wonder past in their group of three, whispering and giggling at the boys standing by the tennis courts, the leader showing off with a basketball, as if he was the first and only person to be able to bounce one of those things on the ground. They all fancy him. I can see why, but I only have eyes for one boy. He’s the only one I’ll ever want.  

The bell sounds and everyone trudges back inside, a total opposite to the urgency of getting outside school for those precious few minutes. I make my way back upstairs with the rest of the flock and slide in to my window seat at the back of the class. French. The most pointless lesson ever invented. Although mum says we should all have a second language, and that us English are a lazy nation, as we expect everyone else to speak our language. She might have a point.  

Mr Magoo – not his real name, he is very short-sighted – directs a question at the class, asking us to give him the answer in French. I hate this lesson, but I’m so sick of feeling invisible, so I raise my hand.  

‘Anyone?’ he asks, his eyes scanning the students. So I raise my hand a little higher. ‘Jessica?’ he calls to the girl next to me, who is whispering with Lucy. She immediately flicks her wavy blonde hair over her shoulder and straightens up ever-so-slightly from her slouched position in her seat, and clears her throat. ‘Um…’ she starts, and smirks, knowing that her fans bask in her coolness and although Mr Magoo has picked on her, she’s safe, because she always gets away with it. The rest of the class titter, and the teacher repeats the question.  

‘Je voudrais en stilo sil-vous-plais Monsieur Jones.’  

I feel the irritation bubble up inside, growing, getting hotter in my belly. Why won’t anyone see me? Hear me? I look at the pen on my desk and feel such ferocity that it flies off the edge and lands right next to her feet. Those who saw it happen gasp, and Jessica’s head snaps up, her eyes scanning the room warily, then giggles nervously, before picking up the pen. ‘Now, now, guys, you could have just passed it to me,’ she joked, then swallowed as she placed it neatly on her desk.  

I roll my eyes, and sink lower into my seat, and turn my head to the window, losing myself in the world outside. One day. Maybe one day someone will notice me.  

I am trying. 

Short Fiction © Fiona Chapman

Are YOU in control of YOUR life?

I recently discovered a little gem, delivered in the form of a book, which was recommended by Jeff Goins – an inspirational guy who blogs about writing and marketing, creative business ideas and making a difference.

I’ve not yet finished this book, but it has reawakened in me something that I have long believed (and recently forgotten), and that is the knowledge that we are in charge of our own destinies. In fact, it’s not even that I had forgotten this, more the fact that I have succumbed to what the book’s author comes to describe as Resistance. If this sounds familiar, you might indeed have already read this book – aptly titled The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

Because there is a little war going inside all of us. Resistance – as the beginning of this book talks about – is that little voice in our heads that prevents us from being productive, or making those all-important changes in our lives. That health-kick you keep promising yourself. That change of job you really want to go for. It’s the voice of procrastination, the nagging doubt that we won’t be good enough, that we will fail. By listening to these thoughts, we’ve already set ourselves up to fail. If you’ve ever read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, you’ll be conscious of that familiar feeling that stops you doing something you know will benefit you in the long run. Instead, you subconsciously (or, even consciously), make all the excuses you can come up with, not to pursue an opportunity. Often, one excuse is all you need to talk yourself right out of it. You then convince yourself that you made the right decision, and feel better for it. Because it’s so much easier to stay locked inside that comfort zone of those familiar slippers, that warm blanket; to stick with what you know, and not attempt to stretch yourself. Take that path of least resistance (excuse the irony here). Because any opportunity that can make you grow as a person, isn’t going to offer that instant gratification we crave as human beings. It’s going to be hard work, you’re going to have to stretch yourself, and what if the end result is failure, after all that effort you’ve put in?

This book has triggered a whirlwind of thoughts and I’m not even a third of the way through it yet. It’s actually got me sitting up in bed at 5am, drafting this blog post with a cup of chamomile because I can’t sleep, and overcoming Resistance. It has got me laughing Resistance in the face, ignoring the voice of ‘But I can’t drink tea and read! I have to go back to sleep so that I’m not tired in the morning,’ followed by, ‘I will still have I don't have enough timeto get the kids up and do the school run and all the other chores that await me!’ This book has enabled me to go one step further, and actually write 500 words in the middle of the night (it might be morning to some of you, but it’s still the middle of the night to me). And that is the first step to me resuming my life’s journey – on my calling to writing, on improving my health, and the next step towards the rest of my life.

As Steven Pressfield says in his opening paragraph of the chapter ‘What I do’; it doesn’t matter if the words I wrote weren’t that great. The only thing that matters, is that I reached my daily goal. I ignored that nagging voice that prevented me from achieving my work or desire. I overcame Resistance. You see, that one word, that has so much control over us, is the only thing stopping you from fulfilling your dreams and aspirations.

Click here for more information: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.