Sunday, 28 August 2011

Suicide, Depression & Staying Strong

This may seem somewhat of a strange topic for me to cover on my blog. People will see that I tend to write upbeat and positive blogs about family, friends, pets, loved ones and trying to achieve your goals and ambitions. I like being positive. Not in that annoying way where some people are ridiculously happy for no apparent reason. They should be banned from going out in public!

I have been out and about talking about my book with people and on many forums, groups and websites I see a similar discussion about bullying, losing loved ones, losing pets, not having jobs or qualifications for jobs, being alone, breaking up with girlfriend and just very negative posts from people that are really down in the dumps, depressed and in some cases suicidal.

I myself suffered from depression, suicidal tendencies, and I had a lot of hate in me. This has been a running theme since I was in my late teens, about 19. I am not going to bitch about my reasons or troubles, as I think the majority of people have it a lot worse than me. I did work with suicidal people a lot during my early twenties, when I taught martial arts.

Back then I wrote books on philosophy and techniques to improve your lifestyle and replacing negatives with positives. This meant I had hundreds of people sending me e-mails and asking me questions. I think ninety-nine percent of suicidal tendencies stem from a feeling of “Lost”, now that is easy to say “Nope!” I know I did. The thing is when you break down the core reasons of why you feel this way, the why’s, how’s, whose and what not’s, you come to the conclusion of being lost or alone or both.

I just want to do a little technique that helped me take my first step out of feeling suicidal. This does not cure depression, this isn’t even a cure. It is just something to take a step forward. It is a very easy thing; basically I want you to write down five things that make you happy. They shouldn’t be big things or things out of your control, and losing control is a big issue with depression/suicide, so we want to take back control.

So, here are the five things that I wrote aged twenty-two (I will allow a brief laugh, but it cannot go on longer than a minute!) My five things were “Walking my dogs”, “Candles”, “Twilight Sky’s”, “Hot Baths” and “Music”. This is called focusing on the positives, one of several techniques (that I will be posting over the next few weeks) to help you move forward.

I will try to keep this short, as I don’t want to steal your time, but why did I pick those five things? I love my dogs, clear to see because I write novels about my old dogs and current dogs, and walking them got me out the house and made me happy. I also like adventure, so I would try to take them someplace new every day. I love candles, the smell of them, and the flickering flames and when chilling out to music, it relaxes me and helps me escape. I love hot baths, as I train hard with martial arts and that eases my muscles, combine music and candles and for 30 minutes nothing else matters. Twilight Sky, the name of my martial art style, I would sit on a hill in the forest and watch the sun go down and the night creep in. I love that moment between day and night, between darkness and light.

I made sure I did these five things every single day, as they just gave me something to look forward too, made me a little happier and when your mind is in a slightly different place your problems don’t seem so bad and you can think up other ways of dealing with them. So, I hope that if you are feeling down, depressed or lower than this. I hope you will try this technique; you have nothing to lose and hopefully you will have a brief moment of happiness in your day.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ten Amazing Twitter Causes

I have been on twitter for a few weeks now and just like every other person I sort of found people and causes with a similiar interest to me. There are so many great people I want to mention here, but today I am going to focus on ten amazing twitter causes. I will do another blog like this in a few weeks to highlight some other amazing causes. If you please know any great causes on twitter then please post a link at the bottom of this blog. So, please follow, support and help spread the word of these ten great causes below.

@scope - Scope is a disability charity. Our vision is a world where disabled people have the same opportunities to fulfil their life ambitions as everyone else.

@afspnational - Preventing suicide through research and education

@unicefusa - 22,000 children die every day from preventable causes. We believe that number should be zero. Do you believe in ZERO?

@PetsforPatriots - 501(c)(3) connecting service + veteran members of the U.S. military with at-risk shelter pets, giving the gifts of fidelity, joy + companionship to pet + person

@Help_sts - Supporting one teen at a time so valuable lives arnt lost. .Your fav celeb supports.Not intervention site.

@TerrierRescue - A specialist rescue helping Lakeland, 'Working Type' & other Terriers find their caring forever homes. Part of Rescue Remedies Reg Charity No 1139407

@HelpforHeroes - The official twitter page for Help for Heroes. H4H provide Practical, Direct Support for our wounded, sick & injured post 9/11

@SayNoToSuicide - Hey im here to help spread awareness and help . I'm a 17 year old girl and i want to make a difference in the world. I believe !

@Doglost_Stef - Free,voluntary service helping find missing and stolen dogs in the UK

@aspca - Fighting animal cruelty, promoting pet adoption, and helping you take good care of your pets!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dogs, loyalty beyond friendship

They say “Dogs are mans best friend.” I personally believe the bond between a dog and their owner goes beyond more than that. It is the one thing non-dog owners don’t understand. My two dogs, Molly and Willow, owe me nothing. They were born into a weird world. They are not running through a jungle hunting wild animals and fighting the elements to survive, instead they live in a nice warm house, sleep on a big comfy bed, get lovely food and sly treats (Don’t tell anybody!).

They are animals. They are not children. This is what makes the bond so special. They really don’t owe me anything, your dogs don’t owe you anything, their brain doesn’t work that that. They see this big gangly creature that shows them unconditional love, gives them everything they need to survive and in return they show love and complete and utter loyalty.

I think that is an amazing thing. If you step back, think about what a dog really is and then see how this animal thinks the world of you. People who don’t have dogs might be going “He is talking out of his butt.” If I did that I would have a youtube account with over a million hits, but I do not.

I will give you an example, which I am sure all dog or cat owners can relate too. Say you lose a loved one and you a heartbroken. You go upstairs, into your bedroom and you cry. You are sobbing your heart out when a muzzle is placed gently upon your knee. Your dog doesn’t know why you are crying, it cannot understand your words, but here they are just reassuring you that you are there with them.

Another example is if you are walking at night, someone approaches you, your dog stands by your side and they stand big, strong and on guard, ready to give their all to defend you. When my timid little dog, Willow, spotted someone in the new forest at night and stood between us, pointing at them, whilst she shook uncontrollably from fear. I never felt prouder. She was so scared, but she didn’t run, she didn’t think “every dog for herself!” She thought “I must protect you.”

These are two big examples, but there are a million tiny things throughout your day where this wild creature will come up and say. “I love you.” This for me is incredible. It is why I think the term “Man’s best friend” doesn’t properly sum up the bond between the owner and their dog. So, I put it to you. What is your stand out memory? When did your dog do something that really touched your heart and said “I love you, I am here for you.” I would really like to hear your replies and stories.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Should J.K Rowling write more Harry Potter novels?

I have seen this question appearing in forums, twitter and facebook for a while now “Should J.K Rowling write more Harry Potter novels?” I am a big fan of the movies, but slightly behind on the novels, as I read them with my nephews and they are only stay over every other weekend, so it’s a long process!

I would love to get Harry Potter’s fans ideas on this. I think for the most part the fans would say “YES! GIVE US MORE!”, but where would you take the story? What could it be about? When I was growing up there were some amazing books and movies that came out and over the years they have done sequel or spin off series and to be fair... they sucked!

Would more Harry Potter ruin this epic magical adventure? What stories would Harry Potter fans want to see J.K Rowling write? I am a massive Terry Pratchett fan and he has about forty Disc World novels that follow different characters on their own journeys. Would Harry Potter fans want to see that? Considering how big the cast of Harry Potter is it could mean tens of new novels.

So, I put it to you, the true hardcore Harry Potter fans, would you want to see more Harry Potter novels? What characters would you like to learn more about? What side stories from the original novels would like you better explained? What questions would you like to have answered from the novels?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Indie Authors Epidemic

I am sure the title of this blog is on a memo, on a desk, within a big publishing house. It is no shock to Indie Authors just how many people write these days, more and more people seem to be coming out of the woodwork and telling their stories. This is fantastic, but also adds to the competition. I say competition because it is every authors dream to make a career out of telling stories and to do that you need to reach the top, which makes everyone else your competition.

Well, it would, but not so much in this line of work.

I think that is what fascinates me the most about Indie Authors. It is a really competitive market and it is pretty hard to separate yourself from other authors. The quality of books is amazing these days, but every Indie Author is willing to help another. What line of work would you get that in? I can think of several, but won’t say them, as it ruins the point I was trying to make!

I was a published author and I have taken some time out, come back with a new book. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy going under a new name, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this hard. I say it is hard as promotion tactics have become quite clever. It is difficult to do something that no one else is doing and stand out from the crowd.

I believe if I hadn’t been a published author I would be heartbroken and defeated, but I have had books in the best seller rankings and know a secret... that everyone else knows, which sort of doesn’t really make it a secret now that I think about it. That non-secret is that it takes... TIME.

Time is your biggest enemy. Writing is a very passionate thing and you want your book to do well quickly. You want people to read your story, your characters, and your creation and be sucked into this fantastic book. The problem is time. Nobody knows who you are, why should they care? It feels like a lifetime for you to get that first sale, first review and see the first person mentioning your book in a group or forum.

I think the one thing you should remember is that Indie Authors are in the same boat as you. They have been through what you are going through, they are aiming for that next level, be is a top 20 in their genre, top 10, number 1, first U.S top 100, but it is brilliant that Indie Authors  help each other so much. Since coming back with my new book I have been welcomed into groups and forums, people offered to have me on their blog, telling their friends about my books, so many people have just passed on my blog.

“Dogs, the forgotten heroes” had an insane amount of hits and that was due to people just being kind enough to tell their friends. So, it is hard being an Indie Author and telling your story, but it does get easier. Soon one sale will turn into two, two will turn into three and if I was any better at maths I would continue that on. Don’t give up and lose heart. There are thousands of Indie Authors that know what you are going through and are willing to help, advise or give you that boost to your confidence. We are lucky to be in such a great line of work filled with amazing people.

So, for all those that helped my old pen name (I am a man of mystery!), for those that have helped me today, I want to thank everyone on Twitter, Facebook, The Facebook Groups, Goodreads and the forums. I would especially like to thank everyone at the kindleboards forum, as they really are a source of motivation and inspiration, especially with my old pen name, as I struggled a lot under that name and that community was great support. So, thank you.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Top Ten 80's Kid Movies

Here are my top ten 80's/90's kid movies. These all played a big part inspiring me to become a writer and are the type of stories I want to tell. Please point out any movies that you think should have made the list.

Batteries Not Included
I must have watched this movie 100x growing up. I loved the little flying spaceships, lol.
The Witches
This was a really cool movie. It was a little scary for me when I was young, but I still loved it. The lead witch was creepy!
I loved this movie, but I will admit the book ruined it for me. DON'T READ THE BOOK!

Inner Space
My family banned this movie, as I watched it so many times, lol.

I love this movie. Willow never gets old. One of the best magical adventure stories told.
Flight of the Navigator
How badly did I want to fly that spaceship? Even today, I come back from the forest, make sure ten years have not gone by.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The word "Awesome" was invented for this movie.
I know all the words to all the songs. Love this movie.

Back to the Future
I lurrrrrrrrrrv Back to the Future. Still watch them on T.V, lol. Will never get old!

The NeverEnding Story
The biggest influence on my writing style and my biggest inspiration.

Extinction: A Look Inside

I am very happy to announce that, Extinction, is finally out. Extinction is a short story set three years before the events of the novel. It is a really fun, fast paced and exciting story following some of our favourite characters. It is completely free to download. Below I have posted a brief excerpt from the story.

Jeff “Jawbreaker” Hardly was a big man. This is not to be mistaken with a tall man or a fat man. Jeff was big in the sense that he looked like the ancient Great Wall, but built purely out of bulging muscles. His biceps were as big as a normal person’s waist. He was of average height, with shaggy brown hair, which had knotted itself into his curly beard, and now covered most of his face. Two beady little eyes were the only features that people could see. A large intimidating battleaxe rest upon his back, only someone with his build could ever dream of using such a bulky weapon. When people are introduced to Jeff they pause for thought at the word “Jawbreaker”, as it was an interesting and uncommon name, which originated from the breaking of jaws. It was an early warning sign that he wasn’t the most pleasant of men.

It was one reason most people, packed into the inn, were avoiding eye contact.

The inn was overflowing with customers, but that was to be expected with the occasion. It was literally impossible to get from one side of the room to the other. Health and safety would have a nervous breakdown if they did a surprise investigation right now. It really was a case of people being squished together, shoulder to shoulder.

‘Excuse me,’ said a voice from behind Jeff “Jawbreaker” Hardly.

The man turned like a revolving planet and glared at the owner of the voice.

A little old man, leaning heavily on a walking stick, was stood behind him. The old man was several inches smaller, had a bald head and long white beard, which came as mandatory with being wise.

‘Do you mind if I can get passed?’ he asked politely.

Jeff grunted and turned back to his companions.

‘Um,’ the old man cleared his throat. ‘You are blocking my way. Can I please get by?’

Jeff didn’t even bother to turn around.

And then something happened. It was something that was considered suitable, and within the requirements, for the breaking of one’s jaw. A finger was being tapped impatiently upon Jeff’s muscular shoulder. The flames of anger roared within the depths of his stomach. Clenching his fists into tight balls he swung around to face the old man.

Jeff could feel his heart stop.

Fear was a funny thing. It could turn the biggest, strongest and scariest of men, into quivering wrecks. The old man was no longer there. He had been replaced by someone else. This someone else was a very large, very scary looking Gorilla. The Gorilla had a certain aura about him. That aura was “I am going to eat you.”

‘Could you please move,’ asked the old man from behind the Gorilla.

Jeff moved.

In fact everyone moved.

The Gorilla walked through the centre of the crowd like some kind of mythical figure parting the waves. The old man, holding the hand of a little blonde girl, followed a few steps behind. They approached the barman, who was doing his very best at appearing invisible, which was pretty difficult for someone that round and hairy. It was clear he didn’t want to deal with them. The inn had become uncomfortable quiet.

‘Do you happen to have any rooms?’ asked the old man.

‘I-I...’ stuttered the barman. His eyes were fixed upon the Gorilla. ‘I’m afraid we are booked up.’

‘There is no reason to be afraid,’ countered the old man. He stroked his fingers down his beard, in that way wise men do. ‘I suspected this inn would be like the others.’ The Gorilla nodded his head in agreement.

‘Do we need a room, master?’ asked Rocky the Gorilla. To those who could use magic, which granted them the ability to talk to animals, heard Rocky speak, but to those that couldn’t use magic, heard a rather deep and scary noise, which sounded a bit like a grunt-come-growl. ‘It shouldn’t take, Charlie, long.’

‘That is true. Do you have a free table?’

‘Um, well, we do, but you see,’ the barman cleared his throat nervously. ‘Animals are not welcomed in here.’

‘Oh, did you hear that, Rocky?’

‘I did, Master.’

‘Do you feel unwelcomed?’

‘Not really.’

‘Then it is settled. We will have the table.’

The barman wasn’t exactly sure what had just been agreed, but if it meant the Gorilla going away and this weird old man stopped talking to him, he was more than happy to give them what they wanted.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

What inspired you to write?

I love hearing about different people’s inspiration and why they decided to take up a career in writing. I have asked many writers this question “What inspired you to write?” and I have heard so many different answers. Some people have always wanted to write, but others got into it later in life.

I really had to think about my inspirations because when I was younger I didn’t really read many books. I found the school books pretty dull and not entertaining, but I do remember when I was six I wrote a story called “Captain Zack” about a spaceman superhero. He was a superman rip-off, but back then copyright wasn’t really something I thought about. I will say his back story was pretty good.

That was my first taste of writing. I found I had a knack for story telling when I turned up late for school, which was practically every day, and I never used the same excuse twice. I could come up with the most elaborate set of events and convince people it was true. I also think they stopped caring. One day my dog ate my homework, which was TRUE, and the only one they didn’t believe.

I loved telling stories, as I grew up on movies like “Never Ending Story”, “Labyrinth”, “Willow”, “Witches”, “Back to the Future” and “Starwars”, which have really moulded the stories that I want to write and tell.

During secondary school I read “Goodnight Mr Tom” and “The Silver Sword” I loved these WW2 books and they were the first things that pulled me into reading. I then borrowed “Infinity Welcomes Careful Drives” from my brother and I was hooked. This is a sci-fi comedy that was a T.V show called “Reddwarf”

I loved telling stories, but Doug Naylor and Rob Grant did this thing where they told scenes from another person’s point of view or the point of view from a plant, which I thought was really clever. It is why in my books I tend to introduce a talking tree, a lamppost flickering out of existence, a snowdrop that is afraid of heights or a strange animal that has a walk on part and you watch an important scene through its eyes.

The Reddwarf series really sucked me into the world of books. I then turned to Terry Pratchett and since then I have loved adventure, fantasy books. I mean I have read these books on the ferry and burst out laughing in a room of crowded people and then gone “My shoes are on fire” to turn embarrassing into pity, as people think I’m mad. Incidentally, I know longer use the ferry!

This is my path into writing. I loved the awesome 80’s movies, a few really cool WW2 character stories caught my eye and when a dull subject (I was a teen!) can be turned into this personal, amazing and uplifting story it was like having a super power. I wanted to have that effect on people. The Reddwarf books motivated me to try my hand at writing and Terry Pratchett inspired me to tell the story I wanted to tell, no matter how weird and wonderful.

This is my path. What inspired you to enter the world of writing?

Friday, 12 August 2011

Top 10 Favourite Dogs Breeds!

Bichon Frise
I think these dogs are really sweet. There is one where I live and it is so timid and gentle. It is a really lovely dog. I don't think it is the type of dog I would ever want to own, as it is very scared of everything. I don't know if that is in the breed or just this particular dog, but a really friendly dog that loves my lakeland, Willow.

Border Terrier
I would never want to own a Border Terrier, as the ones I know are a lot of work. They are great dogs, run around like nutters, they are friendly and good natured, but the ones I know eat everything, chase everything and annoying pretty much every single animal in the new forest. Lovely dogs, but I don't think I would ever want one for myself.
Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie's are another great dog. They are good natured, but again now the type of dog that I would like. There are two where I live. One is noisy and runs about a million miles an hour, the other is quiet and friendly. They are two of the prettiest dogs to meet in person, as they have lovely coats and are really friendly.

Irish Terrier
I have limited experience with these dogs, but there is a young pup down where I live and he is brilliant. A really beautiful dog, fun, friendly, but hard work. I know he runs his owner ragged, as his recall is terrible!!! I think after actually seeing one in person I wouldn't mind owning this dog, as it is a lovely animal.
No Idea
This picture amused me. This dog looks annoyed 24/7!

German Pointer
I owned a German Pointer and it was hard work. She was a beautiful dog, friendly, playful, could run for miles and miles without getting tired, but she experience serious anxiety problems when alone, which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage in my house. A brilliant dog, but needs to be worked hard just to burn off the energy, which they have an endless supply of. I don't think I would ever own another Pointer.
Irish Wolfhound
My family had a Wolfhound when I was growing up. They also had a Deer Hound, unfortunatly they both died when I was very young and I have limited memory of them both, but there are wolf and deer hounds down near me and they are beautiful. They are brilliant, well mannered and very calm dogs. You would expect something that big, powerful and fast to be more like the pointer with the endless energy, but they are the complete opposite. Very calm and controlling dogs, powerful aura. I don't think I would ever own one again, but I really love this breed.

Fox Terrier
I really love these dogs. I nearly got a Fox Terrier when it came to picking up my last dog, but I decided to go with Molly, my Airedale. These are really lovely dogs and I think one day I would love to have one, but unfortunatly you don't see many of them around, which is a shame.
Lakeland Terrier
The picture above is of my Lakeland, Willow. I grew up with a Lakeland, Katie, who died at the age of 18. She was a fantastic dog. Really kind, caring and amazing with kids. Katie once saved my life when I was attacked by a dog and I absolutely love Lakeland's. I have never met a bad one. I think I will always have Lakelands, as they are amazing dogs and so loyal. I cannot say enough nice things about this breed.

This was a tough choice! The picture above is of my Airedale, Molly. I love Molly to bits, BUT Airedales are hard work, very hard work. They so very, very, very clever. If they are not hearing something miles away, they are seeing something miles away and if they are not doing that they can track people for miles. Airedales are amazing swimmers and spend 90% of their life underwater. They love cold climates like the snow. Above you see Molly having a snowball fight with me, whilst every other dog in the forest stood around shivering. Really amazing dogs, awful recall, as they get distracted by sounds, sights, smells. I am half and half if I will ever get another one, as I love Airedales, I love Molly, but they are very hard work. I have had pointers, deer hounds, wolf hounds, terriers, setters and all sorts, so when I say Airedales are hard work, I mean Airedales are really hard work, lol. But hands down, my all time favourite breed is, Airedale. You will never meet a more confident breed, powerful breed, but friendly, loving and loyal breed.

What is your favourite dog Breed and Why?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Supernanny, Sexualisation & Protecting Your Children

Reg Bailey, chief executive of the mother’s union, will be publishing a report on how to protect children from “sexualisation”. Many U.K retailers have agreed to stop selling inappropriate clothing to youngsters. The report will touch upon things like covering up sexy magazine covers on store shelves and restricting steamy music videos to older teens and later viewing hours.

                Super Nanny’s, Jo Frost, said this “Parents voices need to be heard and respected. It is everyone's responsibility in society to protect our children. Outrageous, sexualised imagery, inappropriate retail for our young, the list is shamelessly endless. Our children are being subjected to deplorable advertising and media making it hard for parent’s everyday to control these surrounding images day in and day out that they are exposed to. Rules need to be put in place, boundaries to be made. Steps aggressively need to be taken to morally do the right thing to protect the innocence of our children today.”

I agree with this issue 100%. It is why I write uplifting kids and young adult books. I have ten nieces and nephews and the stuff they watch, they buy and are subjecting too are shocking. Now, I am not a goody two shoes. In fact I think parents and the government have got things wrong in some respect. I grew up in the 80’s and loved a show called “Dragonball Z”, which is no longer showed in the U.K, as it is said to be too violent.

Now, this show was about a kind hearted martial artist saving people and protecting the world, it gave messages of if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, help those that can’t help themselves, always do the right thing, put other people’s needs before your own, take care of your family. It inspired me to go into martial arts, which I still do to this day.

So, that is banned, but Nicole Scherzinger dancing half naked, no, she wore less than that at 8am on TV, is allowed? Where are the positive messages in that? I grew up on movies like Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, Willow, Witches, E.T and these really amazing movies with dark themes of losing loved ones, being lost, being alone, but things people connect with and actually have to face.
They showed you how to overcome these problems and keep moving forward. These days kids programs are pretty dumb. Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter do not count, as they are across the board stories/movies for adults and kids. I mean you look at the standard of kid’s movies today, what lessons do they teach?

I am 100% behind the Bailey report. I think there is too much sex and violence. I am out and about promoting my book and the amount of horror, erotica and romance books seem to easily out weight kids/teen books. Now, I am not having a go at those authors, they don’t write for kids, but I am saying society as a whole has allowed sexualisation to become an everyday thing.

It wasn’t like that 50 years ago. My only issue is that you shouldn’t be scared of what you teach children, but you shouldn’t let them grow up too soon. I don’t like the fact my nephews have cell phones, laptops and things like this. When I was their age I was out playing man hunt with my mates, playing football, going on fun adventures with my dogs and just having fun.

I did these things because kids are impressionable. We all know this. I would watch Dragonball Z, no, earlier than that. I would watch Thunder Cats, He-Man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and be like “Thunder Cats are Go!” and me and my mates would go be thunder cats for an hour. Today kids programs are dumb downed, even many of the books I read my nephews are silly. They are not inspiring, they are not motivational, they don’t teach you important lessons, but not lessons directly.

You learn by watching your heroes and going “Wow, I want to do that. I want to be like him/her.” These days children’s heroes are...? Buzz Lightyear is a given! But you go from Buzz, hero of an innocent child, and then you have young boy/girl who should be running around like idiot suddenly want to grow up aged 11 or 12 and start looking at people like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and what not. They get obsessed with body, looks, appearance, when they should be having fun.

I think this Bailey Report can only be a good thing. I made a conscious decision when I wrote my kids/teen book that I wanted to tell a clean, exciting, uplifting and positive story that would inspire kids to think for themselves and be what they want to be. I wrote a book about a wonderful puppy and this loveable granddad type figure that set out on a journey to save their friends, they go on adventures, learn things about their friends, themselves and about helping others.

I wanted to do a throwback to those awesome 80’s movies that inspired me to go into martial arts, to become a writer, to take care of my family and to be the best possible person I can be. These are the messages that we should be setting out for our kids, which is why I 100% support the Bailey report.

                I appreciate you taking the time to read.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Harry Potter, Rincewind & You

                 The world is Harry Potter mad at the moment and for good reason.  I love the movies and think the stories are really clever and well thought out, but I have been thinking, is Harry Potter really the best at magic? I have asked several people who they thought was the best main character at magic and the general consensus is Harry Potter, but I am not so sure.
                The reason I am not so sure is because I grew up on movies like “Never Ending Story”, “Witches” & “Labyrinth”. David Bowie’s character was really creepy and powerful in Labyrinth and he could give Harry Potter a run for his money. What about the evil witch in “Willow”, the Val Kilmer movie, where she turns an entire army into pigs? In Never Ending Story the power of belief is the greatest thing in the world.
                If we look further afield to Japanese anime, manga or movies. There is nothing that they haven’t thought of when it comes to magical stories. One Piece, Naruto, Dragonball Z, Bleach, Fairy Tale and all these amazing stories are full of amazing characters that can do unbelievable magical things. Could Harry Potter really out do them in magic?
                We come to one of my favourite wizards, Rincewind, from Terry Pratchett novels. He is the most cowardly character in the whole of the disc. Most of his books are about him running away from danger, but Rincewind cannot do magic, as he has one of the great spells locked away within his mind, even though he doesn’t know what it does. It is fair to say Harry Potter is better than him. I think my dog has more magical potential than Rincewind.
                This brings us to the Hermit Master.  An elderly man that can only do four spells, as crystal mages can only join with four magic crystals in their lifetime. One spell is shrouded in so much secrecy that no one knows what it does. The other three magic spells consisting of things that manipulate the world in which you live in. He is the undefeated ten time world magic champion and a legendary figure.
                Could Harry Potter best him in magic?
                This was one of the questions I asked myself when writing the novel. I thought about all the amazing characters ever created and I wanted to create a character that could stand toe to toe with all of them. A powerful heroic figure, but trapped in an old man’s body. I asked myself if I could do magic what spells would I want to do? Would I fly, have x-ray vision, would it be cool to control fire? Is that even practical?
                So, place yourself in Harry Potter’s, Rincewind, The Hermit Master’s shoes and ask yourself, if you could do any form of magic in the world what would it be? If you could invent a spell that is unique to you and you alone what would that spell be and why would you create it? What is your motivation for having this spell? Would you use it for good or for personal gain? What type of wizard, witch or crystal mage would you be?


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Living with Disabilities

                This is a subject that I really wanted to highlight. I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I think this is the hardest blog I have had to write. I wanted to talk about my experience, which is nothing compared to the things many people have to live with.

                When I was about twelve years old I had an accident. I fell about fifteen feet from a rope swing and landed vertically on my head. I suffered cuts, bruises, broken arm and two fused vertebra in my back. I had to have a lot of treatment to strengthen my back, as I was always in pain. Little by little I got stronger and really got into keep fit. I turned to martial arts and have done that ever since.

                I use to be super fit, but remained constantly in pain. Just playing with my dogs, I would pull up in agony for no reason what so ever. I was diagnosed with Tendonitis, which basically means I have weak tendons. This just made me train harder and try to develop my body, so I could continue to do the martial arts that I love. This went on for years. I was in constant pain.

                Then one day I ripped my “Cruciate Knee Ligament” for those that don’t know, this is a career ending injury for most athletes, as it can take about six months to a year to heal. I was really disappointed with the injury, and for about two months I couldn’t walk. And then for two months I could drag my leg and limp around, but then my knee tore again and all in all it took ten months for me to get over my knee injury.

                The problem was that when the knee started to heal, my legs began to go numb. It was nothing more than pins and needles at first, but then I would go to stand and my legs wouldn’t move. On two occasions I knocked myself out, as I would be walking and then just suddenly drop, as my legs went numb. This is not to be confused with tripping, literally just dropping and smashing my head. It then progressed to shooting pains down my legs, my thighs feeling like someone was burning them and falling over when shopping, walking my dogs, making dinner.

                I had MRI’s on my knee and back to find out that my injury from when I was 12 was my problem. I have severe nerve damage in my spine. Oddly, being super fit was the cure, as it meant I had a really strong body and in the 10 months I sat around unable to do anything, I lost that body and the injury raised its ugly head. It also meant I didn’t have Tendonitis and about five other things I was diagnosed with turned out to all stem from the nerve problem.

                It has taken me a year and a half to get my life back. I am training again, getting stronger, the numbness is gone, and the pain is there now and again. I will require spinal surgery at some point, which has all sort of horrible complications, but for the moment if I work hard and train hard I can get my life back until my back decides to give up on me.

                This chapter of my life has given a whole new appreciation and respect for people living with disabilities. I don’t think many people can fully understand some of the limitations set upon people with disabilities or the determination to not allow these disabilities to ruin your life. I gave up and got depressive when they said it was my spine and then I got angry and determined to beat this, and it made me see things in a different way. Like, I couldn’t hold my baby nephew; my legs could go numb at any point. I couldn’t take the kids out on my own, as I could collapse.

                Some people asked why I made the little girl hero, of my book, blind and it’s because I wanted to highlight life with disabilities. I wanted to show how important the little things people take for granted are to someone with disabilities and that having disabilities isn’t the end of the world. That you can still achieve your dreams, your goals, and your desires and live the life you want to live.

                Thank you for reading.

Monday, 1 August 2011

How Cunning is your Cat?

I want to share a brief story about how cunning and clever cats can truly be. Earlier this year I lost my cat, Tammy. She died at the grand age of twenty-one. Tammy was a lovely cat that was found on a building site as a kitten. She had anxiety problems and hated to be alone. My old dog, Katie, was her best friend and then years later she really took to my little dog, Willow.

Tammy was an amazing hunter. The amount of birds I have had to treat and heal over the years is incredible. She never really killed anything, which was the one plus, but I guess the injured birds wouldn’t see that as much of a positive. She wasn’t the biggest cat, but she ran the street. She was tough, cats knew it and dogs knew it. You never saw a dog chase, Tammy. You saw Tammy chasing dogs.

So, you can understand the day I saw this twenty-one year old cat slink away, truly frightened, from a very large cat that was in our back garden broke my heart. I was really upset, as to see such a proud and strong animal back away out of fear must have been so hard for her. This cat was so confident it even had a go at both of my dogs.

I took the dogs inside and went to get this cat out of my back garden. There are four fences, so the only way out is through the gate. I went to approach the cat and it hissed wildly. So, I slowly just coaxed it towards the wooden gates, where it could slip out underneath. The cat, seeing the exit, was more than happy to escape.

It dived beneath the gate and then suddenly pulled back and hissed at me. I was not being scary or horrid. “Off you go, Mr Cat.” Hissss! This went on for a few minutes, the cat could hear my dogs barking, it wanted to get out the garden, but the only way out was under the gate, it kept putting its head under and hissing. If I approached to open the gate it hissed at me. I decided to go back into the house, out the front door, and open the gate from the other side, but what did I find?

I never laughed so hard at this point.

Tammy was sitting very peacefully in front of the gate, one paw raised into the air, all of her claws extended. She purred at me, as I approached. Suddenly, the cats head appeared beneath the gate and Tammy’s paw came down. It hit the cat directly on the top of the head. It hissed! I didn’t blame it. I think I would have hissed too.

I had a new found respect for Tammy that day. She had met a younger, faster, fitter and more deadly foe than her. She knew her days as top cat were over, so she made a tactical withdraw and used her brain to trap the cat that had frightened her so badly. That cat never once appeared in our garden again. It just shows how cunning and clever cats can truly be. I have to thank Tammy because many of her stories and the clever things she did inspired so many scenes in, The Legend of the Hermit Master, and it shows that if you use your brain you can overcome anything in life.

Do you have any funny, unique or silly stories of your cat? Feel free to share them.