Furry friends

There’s a new addition to the Turner household – a tiny, furry, 10-week-old fiend of a Cavapoo – with (sadly) poo being the operative word at present. He’d been wormed the night before we collected him and the wormer didn’t agree with him. Not one little bit! Cue a very runny botty, blood-stained poop and a trip to the vets on his first day with us.

We were advised to give him bland food; chicken, rice, scrambled eggs, and pasta, to try to settle him down and it’s definitely helping – but he’s still showing signs of blood in it (we collected him on Thursday). We’re hoping it’s just because his tummy was so upset and it isn’t worrying him as his personality is shining through and he’s not acting ill in the slightest. (At the moment he’s running around having gleefully nicked a sheet of newspaper!)

I have to say I never thought having a new puppy would involve warm water, cotton wool and me wiping clean a tiny bum while my teenager gags and holds him!

Apart from that, he’s a bundle of fun – chewing everything he can get his gums around (and he has a penchant for my toes…) – why is it that a pup can have bundles of new toys to play with, yet prefer the bottom of a dressing gown, slippers and feet? He bounces about all over the place, inevitably with one of our slippers or shoes in his mouth, running so fast he trips and does a roly-poly then gazes up at us in surprise.

Yep, it’s love!



I swear I went to bed one night a svelte size 10 (UK) and woke the next morning a 12. My waistline has thickened, my bum has spread and flattened, and alongside all of that, I now sport a pair of bazooka’s that could have your eye out with one dainty swing. I’m not used to it. They get in the way (unfortunately, mostly under my armpits when I lie down). Consequently, none of my clothes fit, and as I am on the short side, I now look like a hobbit when I’m dressed, and The Blob when I’m not.

I’ve always thought the term ‘hot flashes’ to be quite endearing, reminiscent of slightly older gals sitting in the sunshine, sipping G&Ts and wiping their delicate brows as they chat about their lives (chin, chin, darling!). Oh boy, was I wrong!

It’s more like sitting in my own personal, private, inferno, complete with hair plastered to my head, sliding make-up, and wondering where in hell those saggy jowl lines sprang from. (Added bonus: they make a handy channel to divert rivulets of sweat down into my new-found cleavage.) And, joy of joys, (whisper it) alcohol makes it worse. So there goes the G&T – I’m now a tee-total hobbit.

Night sweats are my own personal favourite – I go to bed freshly showered and smelling lush, and wake up three hours later freezing cold having apparently dived into a swimming pool in my sleep. Surely all the night time shenanigans I am now unwittingly up to means I should lose weight?

Curiously, my skin itches and I went through a stage of losing wads of hair when I brushed it. What’s that all about? I am assured it’s nothing to worry about, but still – why? I’m sure I look utterly fabulous as I morph into a balding, red-faced hulk who’s clawing at her arms, sporadically swishing droplets of yuck around.

I’m told it ceases eventually (although one in ten of us lucky ladies can experience it for up to 12 years – chin, bloody chin, darling) and I’m already in year 5!

Whoever coined the term ‘menopause’ almost had it right. As a single woman of a certain age, I’ve discovered that the ability to start a relationship with someone new has certainly men-o-paused. So I think it should be renamed womenopause – because that’s how it feels – like I’m on pause until my body reboots.

Chin, chin!

Squished boobs


No, this isn’t some kind of warped post where I talk about the perks of owning a pair of mammary glands, so look away now if you’re not grown up enough to cope with the subject without tittering, (or, as Frankie Howerd used to say, “Titter ye not…”)

A couple of weeks ago I was booked in to have a mammogram, but on the day of the appointment the machine broke down and I received a phone call to cancel it. (I won’t tell you how I spent the rest of the day imagining some poor lady with one of her boobs squished flat while technicians fixed the problem – ah, dammit, I just did!)

For those of you who aren’t au fait with mammograms, it’s where women go to have their breasts and lymph glands checked to ensure that they are cancer free and it involves standing/sitting in front of a scary-looking machine while another woman (medically trained, obviously) manoeuvres their breasts into the best possible position to see any potential problems.

I am not getting into the pros and cons of mammography here – that’s not what this post is about. Some people agree with it, others don’t, and it’s an informed decision that every woman has to make. Suffice it to say that a few years back, when I was in a really bad place (unexpectedly single, young child, little to no emotional support), I found a lump and needed one.*

So today was the day for a follow-up. Now I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but if you’ve ever had one of these examinations you’ll know that they are not the most comfortable of things and you have to be a fairly capable contortionist: “Lean left, a bit more, arm up, armpit down, shoulder in, bottom out, hips right, breathe in, breathe out, breathe normally, DON’T MOVE!  Great job, now reverse it…”, (try saying that in a Joan Rivers voice and you’ll have the entire experience in a nutshell). While you’re standing there, naked from the waist up, all you can think of is that another woman is rather more up close and personal than you’re used to and you hope she changed her gloves before she touched your boobs. And just as you get your head around that, she flattens one in between what looks like two sturdy Perspex sheets (think butterfly style skinless chicken breasts) and then flattens it some more. Yummy, huh? Does she go home and tell her family what she’s seen? All the different shapes and sizes she’s come across? The incongruities?

Yes, guys, (if any are still reading this) you probably already know that boobs are not necessarily symmetrical. Those perfect titillating pictures you see? Airbrushed by Buzz Lightyear (to infinity and beyond). That perfect pair of, um, melons you obsess over? Silicone valley, mostly. Shock alert for younger male readers – breasts are not always both exactly the same size; one nipple can be slightly higher than the other, or one will point left while the other points right. Breasts have veins … I know, gross, right? NOPE! That’s NORMAL honey-bun, get used to it. (You’ll thank me for knowing that when you grow up a bit and come face to face with the real thing, and if you do come across any of the above, DO NOT mention it to your lady-love, at least, not unless you never, ever want to clap eyes on a pair again – women talk to each other!) The key factor is that we women are all different shapes and sizes and each of us is lush and rather wonderful. Think about your own dangly bits for a second – are they symmetrical? Thought not.

Okay, back to the topic in hand: while I was waiting for my turn another lady came in and sat across from me. She smiled. I smiled. We were both united by concern for what the consequences of today could bring and, as women do, we got chatting. We laughed over my spectre of the malfunctioning equipment from the fortnight previously (apparently if someone had been trapped in it, there are wheels that can be moved by hand to release them, so that’s good to know), and we began to talk about the reasons why we were having it done. It transpired that having a mammogram 17 years ago had probably saved this lady’s life. As she put it, she was going into this today, one soldier down. She’d had a mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy and has been cancer free ever since. “Done and dusted,” she said, with no embarrassment whatsoever. She smiled. I smiled. Underlying those smiles, both of us were wondering what today’s outcome would be. “Good luck,” she said as I went in for my turn, and, “Good luck,” I said when I came out.

I wish I’d been brave enough to give her a hug. I also wish that all women could talk like this; unashamedly, freely, with no embarrassment, at any time. We’re all in the same boat, and after all, it could affect any one of us. Cancer doesn’t care who you are, how rich you are, how nice you are or how tetchy or miserable.

So please make a point of checking yourselves regularly (learn how here: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps ) and if you find something that alarms you don’t wait to see if it’ll go away of its own accord. Go to your doctor pdq. Don’t be embarrassed by your body – whatever shape, size, colour or creed you are, you are perfect. Take care of yourselves.

‘Til next time,



*For anyone who was concerned, the lump I found hurt when I touched it and I could move it around with my fingers – as a general tip, I was told that ‘if it hurts, it’s probably not going to cause a long-term hurt’, and thankfully they were right. It was aspirated and that was it, done and dusted, apart from regular check-ups. I was one of the lucky ones and my heart goes out to those who aren’t so lucky.


Interview with Mike Wolff

Today’s interview is a rather special one to me – Mike is a guy I ‘met’ online a few years back (via The Dragon’s Rocketship – a page on Facebook) and somehow, considering that we live across the world from each other, we became friends and stayed in touch. He’s got amazing ideas and is truly one of the kindest people I know. He promotes others tirelessly, selflessly, with honesty and integrity and he never, ever, asks for anything in return. So it’s my pleasure to be able to turn the tables and interview him as he sends forth his third book in The Guiding Council series: Rogues and Redemption.

J:         Hi Mike, it’s a pleasure to have you here! So, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself.

M:         Thanks for having me on the blog, Jill.  Let’s see, I’m a Christian, married, father of three that has worked in the pharmaceutical/medical device industry for the last 20 years.  I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology, so you know I’m a blast at parties (NOT).  I live in Michigan and love it. I run a blog and I write for fun. Oh, and I believe in Bigfoot.  That is critical to understand me and my writing.

J:         What brought you into the writing world? How did you get started?

M:         Actually, it started as a strange dare from my sister. She asked me to write a haiku about a wombat.  I forget the lead up to that, but I wrote it.  That wombat actually ended up as the bad guy in my first book: The Ancients.  I’ve been writing on and off since.  That was about 15 years ago.  I really wish I could remember that haiku.  It made me laugh.

J:         I see that you have a new book due to be released, can you let us know a little more about it?

M:        Yes, I do.  Rogues and Redemption is the third book in my Guiding Council series.  The series is sort of an Urban Fantasy meets Teenage Fantasy meets Humorous Fantasy series that is based on the premise that all myths and urban legends are real and they have a complex society that lurks in the shadows of humanity.  Rogues and Redemption takes place after a civil war within the mythical nation, as a new bad guy tries to take over.  But, the Guiding Council won’t stand for that.

The Guiding Council is made of the leaders from each faction within the nation.  Those factions are: Diminutive Creatures, Romanian Echelon, Biped Nation, The Uniques and the Chupacabra Strike Force.

Rogues and Redemption is a bit darker than the first two in the series, but it still has its humorous moments.

J:         How did you come up with the concept for the world you’ve created?

M:        A number of years ago, probably a dozen or so, there was a “major” news announcement that a hunter in Florida had actually killed a bigfoot and had the body stuffed in a freezer.  It was fake, but I thought that would make a great kick-off point for a story.  So I ran with it.

I’m not really an organized writer, I just let it happen.  So the story took on a life of its own.  Now, three books later, I’m already thinking up ideas for a fourth in the series.

J:         Your work shows you have a great sense of humour: is this naturally you, or purely something that comes out in your writing? Is it something you have to work for? 

M:         That’s all me.  I cannot deny it.  I consider myself a master of sarcasm.  That twist of the mind is how I roll.  Unfortunately, if you don’t get my humor, you may not get my stories.  But, I gotta be me.  I write how I write, reads and reviews be damned (did that sound tough enough?  I hope so).

Aside from that, I like dark humor.  I love a good, or bad, pun.  That sort of seeps into my writing.

J:         When did you start to take writing seriously?

M:         I’ll let you know when that happens.

No really, I don’t take it seriously (is that bad to say???).  I love writing.  I love what I write, but if I took it seriously, I’d cry.  Being an Indie author in this modern age of technology is hard.  So, I write to make myself happy.  I certainly hope others enjoy what I write, but serious is so…what’s the word I’m looking for?  Oh yeah, serious.  That’s the word.

J:         Do you find stories come to you easily?

M:        Some do, yes.  Most of my stories come from dreams.  I keep a notebook and a pen on the night stand and force myself awake to write those ideas down.  And sometimes I can even read what I’ve written!  Most all of my short stories start as dreams.

Once I have the idea, the writing is pretty easy.  I’m what the industry calls a “pantser”, meaning I write by the seat of my pants.  I sit down and let it flow.  Unfortunately, I have very little time to write.  I’d say 95% of my writing has been done over my lunch hours.  I have kids.  I have no time to write at home.

Planning a story; now that is hard.  I’ve tried it.  It’s painful.  I enjoy the “pantser” process much better.  I end up as surprised at where the story goes as anyone that is reading it.  Heck, when I go back and read what I’ve written, sometimes I sit back and say to myself, “Wow, I wrote that.  That’s actually good.”

J:         Did you read a lot when you were a kid?

M:        My parents had to bribe me to read.  I hated reading, until I was 13.  Then, in hopes to bribe me some more, a friend of the family introduced me to Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny.  The way he described it made it sound WAY more interesting than the Hardy Boys.  So I gave it a try. I haven’t looked back.

J:         Do you read much now? 

M:        I read all the time. I read before bed.  I read over my lunch hour, when I should be writing.  Heck, when I’m driving, I have audiobooks going.  I love to read, and I’ve found I love having someone else read to me.  Audiobooks have been a great discovery for me.  Now I can do something during the daily commute to and from work. I read 75-100 books a year.

I have a blog that is mainly for book reviews. I love to tell other people what I think.  I also do other sorts of reviews, and some interviews.  I love to promote other Indie Artists.  The blog is my platform for that.  I really don’t promote myself much, but that is just my own personal quirk.

It’s called Lurking in the Shadows Honest Reviews.  I will always be honest with my reviews; friends or not.  How else will you grow as a writer/artist?

https://lurkingintheshadowshonestreviews.wordpress.com/  <- Go check it out! J

J:         What advice would you give to new authors? (I know it’s a blog standard question, but it seems to be a popular one, so I’m asking regardless…)

M:        Make yourself happy, first and foremost.  Write what you’d want to read.  Don’t try to write for others. Don’t write to “fill a void in the industry”, as I don’t think there are any voids in the industry.  Be true to yourself.

Look, if you’re writing to be rich, the chances are you won’t become the next Stephen King.  Sorry about that.  I’m a realist.  But, if you stay true to who you are and just happen to find an audience (large or small) that enjoys what you write; that is the best feeling a writer can have.

Just keep at it.

J:         Finally, what will you be/are you working on next?

M:        Good question.  As with most Indie authors I’ve talked with, you reach a point of indecision.  I find myself at a crossroads.  I love writing, but it takes time.  Even my lunch hours are becoming busier.  So do I keep at it?  Maybe.

That said, I have a story that I’ve been fighting with for a number of years that has to be told.  I’m 50K words deep into it, and I have to see it through to the end.  So that will definitely happen.  It’s called Brotherhood of the Locust.  It’s a true Fantasy novel.  No teenager stuff.  No talking animals.  Real Fantasy.

After that, who knows?  I have ideas for a 4th in the Guiding Council series, and I have an idea that has been churning in my brain for a decade or more.  It’s a bit more serious in nature.  I think my subconscious has been waiting for my writing to mature enough to tell that story.  Maybe it’s time for it to see the light of day.

So to answer the question, who knows?  I’ll be just as surprised to see what happens as you will.

J:          Thanks so much for agreeing to let me interview you, Mike, and from my own point of view, please don’t stop writing!

Guys, here are Mike’s final words along with links where you can find his work, so please make a point of checking them out. 

Blog Link


Global Link


Goodreads Link



Bigfoot Believer.
Corporate world dweller.
Lunch-hour Writer.

Seeking readers and reviewers of Teenage Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror stories.

Applicants must have a sense of humor and not take life too seriously. Appreciation of a really bad pun is a bonus, but not required.

If interested, read the books associated with this author page.

If you want to know more, please google lurkingintheshadowshonestreviews. It’s a thing, really.

Remember to feed your Indie Authors with Reviews. It’s how they survive.