How to tell, and what to do, if your child is self-harming

In my last post, I said I was going to be talking a bit about self-harm. At this juncture, I need to make it clear that I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist or any other kind of mental-health expert. I’m just a mum who writes, edits and has many years’ experience within the education sector who is currently writing a novel covering this subject.

As such, I did a lot of online researching and speaking to people who could possibly help, or at least offer advice on how best to write about it without either glamorising or demonising the issue. It’s a tricky subject and I am still not entirely whether I can write the story and do it justice. By chance, I came across several people whose children/teens had either gone through this, or were going through it that time, and the overwhelming feeling I came away with was that these parents blamed themselves. They all said they must have done or said something, or not said or done something, that made their child go down this route. Ultimately, they believed they had failed as parents.

Obviously, I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors (and yes, there probably are some truly awful parents out there), but these people all appeared to be stable, relatively happy, human beings who were doing their very best for their families. Yes, they had their ups and downs (as do we all), but they couldn’t shake the belief that they were to blame for what their child was doing. [See, ‘What can you do to help your child?’ below.]

So I’ve put this together in the hope that it may help you if you find yourself in the position of having a child who may be self-harming, or heading towards it:

So what are the signs to look out for? [Note: the word ‘child’ used below indicates a person under the age of 18 years.]

Firstly, it may surprise you to know that there are two types of self-harm; emotional and physical. Each is different and it’s important to note that the first does not necessarily lead to the second:

  1. Emotional signs

This is a tricky one because not all children who have emotional problems will go on to physically self-harm. Emotional problems can be hard to pinpoint because a lot of children will successfully hide their feelings – you’ll just have the sense that something is not right, or perhaps, put it down to hormonal changes. However, the following issues seem to be at the forefront of the lead into physical self-harm:

  1. Low self-esteem – a child with low self-esteem will blame themselves for everything. They may tell you they are stupid, they’re ugly, nobody likes them, they have no friends because… [insert anything here, but there will be an ultimate reason for them to blame themselves]. Some children will turn these beliefs inwards and begin hurting themselves as punishment for their ‘faults’.
  2. Isolation – a child may withdraw from people, both within the home and outside of it. Again, this can be tricky to identify because as a child matures they may naturally want to spend time alone in their rooms away from everyone else (bear in mind, they could just be interacting on social media and not want you to be privy to their chats!). But if they don’t want to spend any time with the rest of the family, or with friends, it could be that you need to have a gentle chat with them.
  3. Crying – a child can find it hard to talk about their feelings and show this by crying over seemingly ‘silly’ things. This could be because they may not have the linguistic skills to express how they feel – but in some instances, they may not know why they feel like they do. If your child is constantly welling up; if you can’t get to the bottom of it, and if it lasts for a long period of time, it may indicate depression. Adults tend to think of depression as being something which affects only adults, but how many adults have you heard saying to their kids, “What have you got to be upset about?” Children can suffer from this too, and it needs careful handling. See your GP.
  4. Anger – your child may have inexplicable bursts of anger and this anger could be directed inwardly, towards themselves, or outwardly, towards others.
  5. Gaining/losing weight – I imagine we’ve all heard about anorexia and bulimia (in some instances these issues can be caused by a child feeling they have no control over certain important aspects of their lives, whereas they can control what goes into their mouths), but the polar opposite, overeating, is also an emotional way of self-harming.
  6. Abuse of drugs or alcohol.

If your child has any of these issues and you are afraid they are self-harming, please seek advice as soon as possible. Your GP should be your first point of contact, but be aware (UK) that any referrals offered may have a long waiting list and your child may not be offered an appointment for some months. When I asked parents what they did when they became aware of problems, nearly all said they (eventually) went to their GP as the first port of call. Some had GPs who offered appointments for the children to go to talk to them during the wait for the specialist appointment, others didn’t. Support for your child can be a hit or miss affair.

  1. Physical signs

These could be cuts*, burns*, bald patches, or bruises, and are usually delivered to the wrists, thighs, arms, chest or head. A child who is physically self-harming will [usually] try to hide the fact so they may start wearing high-neck sweaters or t-shirts with long sleeves, and will wear trousers rather than skirts.

If you do happen to spot any physical signs, the child may have a ready excuse. ‘It was an accident,’ appears to be a commonplace explanation, often accompanied by a convoluted account of how the accident happened. You need to be aware that your child will have agonised over what they will say should their self-harming become apparent, particularly if this is something they have been doing over a period of time and the explanation will, most likely, not ring true.

Okay, so now you have an idea of what can happen and the kinds of things you should be aware of. If your child is self-harming, it needs careful handling.

What can you do to help your child?

The first and most important thing to do is to stay calm. Seeing evidence that your child is harming themselves will have an enormous emotional effect on you, but losing your temper with them, or dissolving into tears, will not help them. It will simply fill them with guilt and reinforce their beliefs that they are a bad person. You must stay calm. The harsh reality is that your feelings are secondary at the time you make the discovery – your support for your child is what is paramount because you do not want the behaviour to escalate.

Something has made your child want to hurt themselves, and if you want them to be open with you, to help them work out why they are acting this way, they need to trust that they can tell you anything and that you won’t pass judgement on them or blame yourself or take it personally.

If your child wants to tell you about it, shut up and listen. Really listen. Don’t put words in their mouths – hear what they are saying.

Do not belittle what is troubling them. Their reasons could be something you consider to be unimportant. The evidence in front of your eyes shows they are not unimportant to your child.

If your child does open up to you, tell them you understand why they are doing it – even if you really don’t. Tell them you want to help. Ask if they know what triggers them to self-harm and ask them what they want you to do to help them stop. Tell them you know that when they hurt themselves it feels like it’s helping them to manage things/to cope, but tell them you want to help them with whatever is causing the problem so that they don’t need to hurt themselves, (which is better in the long run).

If they won’t talk to you, ask if they will talk to someone else.

If they still refuse, give them the ChildLine number: 0800 1111.

Find something physical they can do to let their feelings out safely when they are overwhelmed, e.g. punching a cushion, or punching/kicking a punch-bag. Tell them they can use it whenever they like with no explanation needed.

Keep a stock of ice cubes in the freezer so your child can hold one until it melts.

Get them to take a look at this site: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/feelings-emotions/building-confidence-self-esteem/ as there lots of tips they may find useful.

*If your child has cut or burned themselves, you need to ensure they are cleaning the wounds properly. If they have wounds that need medical assistance, get them to hospital immediately.

This next point is one of the hardest for parents, but it is important: don’t smother them. You are going to want to be with them 24/7 to make sure they don’t do it again, but if you give them some privacy it will help build their confidence and trust.

Do not tell anybody other than the people who need to know (GP, school, college) and only then with your child’s knowledge/permission. If they tell you about it and ask you not to tell anyone and you do, any trust they held in you will disappear. They may be embarrassed, feel guilty, know that it is a stupid thing to do, and refuse to let you tell anyone else in the belief that they will think less of them. Wait until they are ready for you to do so. Close family members may pick up on things, but again, only speak to them if your child agrees.

Show them you want to help and that you will listen to whatever they have to say, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

Your reactions

You are going to react to this. I know I said above that this is not about you (and it still isn’t), but you are going to have a reaction. As I mentioned at the start, parents will inevitably blame themselves, for not seeing, for saying or doing the wrong things, for a multitude of reasons. Others are angry – with themselves, with the child, with whatever circumstances have brought them to this situation. You need to be able to react, but try not to do it in front of your child. Drive out somewhere secluded, close all the windows and scream out your grief, pain and anger where no-one can hear you.

One parent (whose child eventually received a referral after a 6-month wait) told me that at the first counselling appointment, when her child cried, tears came into her own eyes and she automatically crossed the room to her child’s chair to comfort her. The counsellor was extremely curt, told her to sit back down and said she must not react or she would heap guilt upon her child. As my friend said to me later, ‘She made me feel like I was to blame for XXX’s self-harming. XXX needed a hug. She’d just opened up for the first time since I found out, and it made us both cry. I’m not a robot – I have feelings about all this too, and I need someone to talk to, to make sense of it! And if I don’t react at all, won’t that make XXX feel like I don’t really care?”

She has a point. I don’t know if this was a particularly over-zealous counsellor but the child refused to go back to see her again because of how she treated her mum. They got over it by talking. The floodgates had been opened and her mum was able to pick her way through it without any further outside help. She told me she had no idea if she was doing it right or wrong, but that so long as her child knew she loved her and would help her and never judge her for [what she’d done], they’d wing it.

The last words on this post come from children who were brave enough to talk to me:

15-year-old, A, told me: ‘It’s nothing to do with Mum. This is about me. I know it’s a stupid thing to do but I can’t stop myself. If I don’t do it [cutting] I don’t know if I’m alive. When I hurt myself, I feel something and I know I’m real.’

‘A’ was unable to say why she felt like this.

14-year-old, K, told me that she felt angry about everything. Her parents had recently divorced and both sides were battling for her attention and bad-mouthing each other. She said: ‘I know Dad didn’t love me enough to stay with me and Mum, so why is he pretending he cares now? He was horrible when he was at home, always sarcastic at Mum and ignoring me, but now he suddenly wants me to go stay with him and buys me stuff. He doesn’t want me, he just wants to hurt Mum and I hate him for it, but I hate myself too because I want the stuff and that makes Mum upset because she can’t afford to buy it for me. So if I let him buy me something, I come home and punch myself in the head or in the stomach because then I hurt too, and it’s okay to take the stuff.’

16-year-old, B, refused to eat. He knew it was making him ill, but he liked the power it gave him over his parents: ‘Mum’s always trying to make me eat stuff. She never shuts up about it and Dad’s the same. He shouts. She cries. I’m sick of them telling me what to do all the time. It’s all, go and do your homework [B], go and do this and that and, no, you can’t go round your mate’s when you’ve got all this study to do. I know I need to study! I know I won’t get to uni if I don’t get the grades – they tell us all the time at school. I just want five minutes to be a bloody kid!’

As I said at the start, I am not an expert, so if I have made any mistakes in this please do let me know and I will happily edit any areas that need it. Your experiences may be utterly different from those I have spoken of, and if you would like to comment below to help others who may have experienced the same as you, please, please, do.

Finally, I hope the information I gathered will help, if only in a minor way, if you ever find yourself in this position.

Further help and support for relatives of self-harmers can be found here: http://www.harmless.org.uk/whoWeSupport/familyAndFriends

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-harm/for-friends-and-family/#.WuIiCcgvzIU

http://www.hopeforhurtingparents.com/encouragement-for-parents-of-self-harmers/

 

Interview with Rachel Davidson, author of ‘The Point of Me’.

rdf headshopt july 2017 cropped

Hi guys!

Today I’m chatting with the lovely Rachel Davidson, the author of a wonderfully uplifting spiritual book. Read on to see what she had to say:

Me: Firstly, welcome Rachel, it’s lovely to have you featured here and I have several questions for you, the first being how long have you been writing and what made you decide to write this particular book?

Rachel: In truth I have been writing my whole life, but I have only been taking it ‘seriously’ – by which I mean pursuing particular story-ideas and crafting them into novel-sized adventures – since September 2014. I am the typical cliché of a newbie author! Hearing that well-worn phrase of ‘everyone has at least one book in them’ and thinking ‘oh yes that is me!’ but not actually settling down to write it and test that postulation. I guess I just got diverted by everyday life, like many people do. The lure of a ‘safer’ life working in business was strong and none of the careers officers at school were promoting author as an option.

But like I say, that changed in September 2014. I know the exact point at which I made the decision to get on with it and indeed why I wrote this particular book ‘The Point of Me’.

I know this because I was having a Soul-Purpose Reading – and during the meditations that this involved, I was told that I would write a story about a unicorn. Well I was rather irked about that. I didn’t want to write about rainbows and fairy sparkle unicorns! But my husband challenged me to think about what my unicorn would look and feel like. Five minutes later I had sketched out the story of the book that was published last summer. It took me 3 years to write and it felt like a return to home.

Perhaps it would be useful at this point to explain a little about what the book is about. The main character in ‘The Point of Me’, James, is a young man who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. As well as facing his own mortality, he also has to cope with his family, who are falling apart under the strain. When James meets Marcham, a mystical beast who takes him on a series of powerful spiritual journeys, he begins to understand the meaning of life, death and family.

So, on the face of it, the book is about a teenager coming to terms with death. But don’t let that put you off! It is actually a very uplifting story! The point of it is not the fact that death is inevitable, but that the manner in which we choose to live our lives, and especially so when the prospect of death looms closer (and in James’ case abnormally early on in his young life) is the most important point of being alive.

The book is heavily influenced and inspired by the worlds of Shamanism and Spiritual Healing. I’ve tried to weave elements of these belief structures into what I hope is a compelling message of how a life full of empathy, love and acceptance will be a good life and provide a meaningful death. The story also features some fantastically magical trips into wonderful spiritual planes – I promise it is not a depressing story!

I wanted it to be full of both light and shade. I wanted to explore how in the midst of the most terrible, darkest moments of a person’s life they might find the greatest light and peace, together with an acceptance of why, as spiritual splinters of the creator’s light we are sent to experience a human existence upon a giant rock spinning through the cosmos!

Me: I think you managed to send that message beautifully.  How long did it take to write ‘The Point of Me’, were there any setbacks or did it flow?

Rachel: It took me 3 years, practically to the day, to go from the first word being written to being published and available to buy. But the vast majority of the writing took place in the last 9 months or so (the symbolism of that particular last phase being equal to a pregnancy was not lost on me! Writing a book is a bit similar to giving birth!).

In the beginning I wrote the story in a relatively piecemeal fashion – having got the preface and chapter one written first I didn’t necessarily follow the chronological timeline that the final book has. I wrote passages and chapters as and when ideas grabbed me, when I felt able to explore particular emotions and themes. I suppose it came together like a quilt does – each piece of writing being stitched together with the next to form the overall. I feel I suffered very few setbacks and ‘dry’ periods because I took exactly this approach. I followed my instincts, went with the flow and trusted that the detail of the story would arrive and that in the end, the full pathway of the tale would be clear and obvious. I always knew the big picture of the story’s emotional arc and everything was guided and controlled by that – like a sailor navigating by the north-star I suppose, I always had that as my reference point from which every writing ‘journey’ would lead from and back to.

Me: As you’ve already said, and I concur, this is a rather wonderful and spiritual tale – did you set out to write it this way, or did it evolve as you wrote?

Rachel: Thank you for the compliment. I’m thrilled that you liked it.

Well, as I mentioned previously, the start of the book began with the spiritual activity of a Soul-Purpose reading and contains many themes and tokens of shamanic and spiritual healing practices. So, I cannot deny that the whole piece has the general theme of spirituality woven through it. Although I don’t remember consciously thinking “I will write a spiritual fantasy story”, I am really interested in this area and exploring the human condition.

In my writing, and through my writing, I want to explore the big issues and questions. I want to investigate my own emotions and purposes – I try to face my own fears. Actually, I think potentially all writers are exploring their inner-workings in this manner to a greater or lesser degree.

If I look into the face of my own fears and terrors and find responses to them through the trials and adversities that I make my characters live through, then I have a good chance of writing an interesting story that will hopefully resonate with other people.

Me: What was your inspiration?

Rachel: Inspiration for my writing comes from lots of places. My husband Steve is a particularly good ‘resource’ as he is a powerful Spiritual Healer and Shaman. His work with Spirit and energy is particularly inspiring. But I also gain a lot of inspiration from the natural world (animals, plants, weather) and by generally observing the human-condition and wondering about people’s hidden, internal dialogues.

For this particular story, knowing that I absolutely did not want to write about a ‘typical’ rainbow and sparkle unicorn was also a good inspiration point. I felt sure that unicorns are much darker, earthier and deeply elemental creatures, and it is true to say that my version is very different to the more usual depiction of these magical beasts.

Ideas or feelings about things such as this arrive in my mind, the trick is to hear them, definitely before they head off to find somebody else who might hear them quicker than you! Ideas are given to you. I believe that is ‘inspiration’ – being ‘in spirit’. To be inspired you simply need to be looking and listening.

Me: How has it been received?

Rachel: Firstly, I want to just acknowledge what a massive leap of faith it is for any artist to put their creativity out into the world. It is a big thing to have strangers reading and reviewing something that one has poured one’s heart into. It’s scary and risky. But the thought of writing the story and then putting it into a dusty drawer to eventually forget about it was definitely the much more horrifying prospect.

My gamble seems to have paid off, in that I have had some very lovely comments and compliments. The book has been described by one reviewer as a “tender fantasy about learning to love yourself despite the tragedy surrounding you”. Another reviewer said that I had painted “… an iridescent portrait filled with sorrow and hope, … [detailing] one boy’s struggles in learning to live in a life of cruelties”. A third review described me as a “talented, exceptional writer who knows how to make her reader feel a host of different emotions, her words are eloquent and beautifully descriptive” – a comment that I still have to pinch myself about when I read it!

A couple of other readers’ comments have focused upon the shamanic and spiritual-healing aspects that have inspired much of the story’s basis and how the characters’ various afflictions are carried energetically before manifesting physically (a lesson to us all, perhaps). Others have remarked upon the powerful messages about the purpose of life – the book is called ‘The Point of Me’ because the main character is searching for the answer to that question. Happily, despite the potentially weighty subject of the book, most readers have observed that they felt peaceful and uplifted by the end of it! And all the Amazon reviews so far have been 5-star. Phew!

Me: That’s fantastic! Most people don’t realise just how much work is involved in marketing your work once it’s completed. Writing a book is hard in and of itself – how have you got on with the marketing side of things? Do you have any tips for others?

Rachel: I couldn’t agree with you more! The writing is definitely the fun bit! It doesn’t feel a jot like hard work, despite it taking a lot of time and thought and struggle. The marketing of the book afterwards is most definitely a mission! But if you want your book to be read then you absolutely have to work at making it visible.

As a self-published author, I’m responsible for all the publishing, distribution, marketing and promotion of the book. I am just one voice in a massive market of thousands, nay millions, of other authors and stories. It is a daunting prospect, to be honest. My main ‘tip’ is to do some promotional work every day, hunting down every opportunity to talk about the book and to make contact with as many potential readers as possible. It’s why I’m very grateful for this opportunity Jill.

I think I read about a marketing theory that goes something along the lines of purchasers needing to be made aware of a ‘product’ at least seven times, on average, before they will finally make the purchase. I try to bear this idea in mind when I am working on promotional content. People need to get intrigued and also comfortable with the idea of what your book is and who you, as the author, are.

Finally, I would just like to say that in the face of this problem I reassure myself with my belief and faith that if I remain authentic to the truth of the story I feel called to write, then the readership will find it no matter what. It might take a long time of course, but ultimately the story will find its own way (me working like a mad whirling dervish in the background also helps!)

Me: Are you writing anything else at present?

Rachel: I am indeed! I am beginning to write a new story – one that I hope will take a number of characters featured in ‘The Point of Me’ forward so that I can explore how they react to the outcome of the first book. A few readers of the book asked me such interesting questions about these characters and what I thought their lives would be like after the conclusion of ‘The Point of Me’, frankly it got me feeling curious about them too.

So, if ‘The Point of Me’ was mainly about exploring how someone may face death, I plan to make the next book an exploration of how someone may face life. I hope it is going to be another tale full of magical experiences and spiritual symbolism – I have been researching the magical meaning of crows for instance!

Q8: Ooh, now that’s piqued my interest! When do you envisage publication of this?

Rachel: Well I hope that it isn’t going to take me another 3 years to write the next book. If I could have it published by this time next year then I would be very, very pleased with myself. I have to juggle full-time work and family life around my writing so there can be many pressures on my time! It is a case of me being very disciplined and sitting down every day to write something. If I can achieve that, then I hope the next book will be ‘birthed’ much quicker than the first!

Me: Lastly, what words of advice do you have for new writers? Is there anything you wish you’d known at the start of the process that would have helped you?

I was lucky to be introduced to you Jill, and you had some great tips and pointers (such as using the online graphic design package Canva to assist in cover design). So that would be my first advice – connect with other authors and writers and pick their brains. My second tip would be to find a great proof-reader (that’s where you come into the picture again Jill, as your work on my manuscript was invaluable to me).

The first thing about the writing process is that you do need to write! Well, the solution to this is firstly about having the discipline to sit my butt down on the chair daily and write! There’s a quote by Louis L’ Amour which goes, “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on”. So, I get my writing environment set up (inspirational music on, comfy seat, my little dog snuggled next to me if she’s in the mood and the incense burning) and I simply write. I don’t worry too much about crafting the ‘perfect’ sentence or do too much self-editing or reading back over what I’m doing as I type along. I try to just concentrate on the emotion that I’m taking the character(s) through and keep pushing towards that emotion. There’s another quote (this one by the great and esteemed Ernest Hemingway) which is “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” That’s what I try to aim for – finding the detail of the emotion’s ‘truth’ and writing in as much ‘colour’ and light as I can to illuminate it.

Oh, and lastly; never, ever worry about the ‘reader’ as you’re writing your story. Write it for yourself. Once you are very happy with it and feel you can improve it no further, publish it and then, and only then, start to worry about the ‘reader’. It sounds counterintuitive to most of the business advice of working out who your target market is for products first. But writing is art, and art isn’t about writing for a demographic! Writing is about putting a truth into words. And that truth can only be the one that is in your, the writer’s, heart. Write that 😊

Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to be featured on here, and I hope that my followers have enjoyed learning about you and your book. It was a pleasure to proofread it for you, by the way. 

If you’d like to find out more about ‘The Point of Me’ or Rachel’s writing then please register your email on her website www.racheldavidsonauthor.com, follow her on Twitter @Rachel_Author, or like and follow her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/RachelDavidsonAuthor

‘The Point of Me’ is for sale on Amazon in both e-book and paperback formats: tinyurl.com/thepointofme 

Her Amazon Author Profile is: tinyurl.com/RachelDavidsonAuthor.

The book is also available on Smashwords (tinyurl.com/y7zrjqgu) and with Apple iBooks. 

 

Lumps, bumps, and Trouble at Christmas

Hi all!

This last month has been – well, let’s just say that different is a good descriptive word (that actually doesn’t really cover anything, much).

So what’s been going on? New Puppy (‘NP’) has started asking to use the great outdoors (aka our garden) as a toilet, unless, of course, we’re busy and not paying him attention wherein he’ll bypass the asking and simply carefully avoid all the pads and paper put down to catch his little ‘accidents’ and pee in the six square inches left uncovered, the defiant little sod!

He’s actually really bright – sits on command, lays down on command, plays fetch (and is learning to let go of whatever we’ve thrown for him so we can throw it again), comes to us when called (if we have something he wants… otherwise he’s great at cocking a deaf’un – think toddlers, pre-schoolers, school-age – hell, just about any age of kid in reality – or husband…).

He’s learned that if he pushes it in a certain way, his water bowl comes loose and when it’s empty he dislodges it and chucks it at our feet wearing a look of utter disdain that says, ‘See what you’ve made me do? Water me, now!’ He’s obviously seen me laughing at  ‘Simon’s Cat’.

All plants in the house are now raised from the floor – NP’s developed a penchant for digging out the mud and chucking it all over the floor which, despite him thinking differently, is not in the least amusing.

The cat’s slightly more tolerant of him. Now she sits at a height he can’t quite reach watching him with contempt as he goes nuts trying to get her to play with him (front paws down, bum in the air, wagging tail) – her tail twitches in annoyance and he reads it that she’s telling him he’s now her new best friend – until she’s had enough of his gentle persuasion and hisses at him like a demon and swipes out. (Claws retracted – she’s not evil.) Funnily enough, her growl is way louder and more dog-like than his – who knew? Yet, when both are hungry, she’ll wind around his legs while he licks her and they both delight in tripping us up while we rush to attend to their needs. I swear they share a look and snicker – every, damn time.

A few years ago we bought musical dogs as Christmas decorations (we inherited one, if truth be told, and bought the second because – well, just because). They look remarkably like NP and he finds them a bit freaky – possibly because one sings Slade and the other sings Wizzard. After the initial ‘What the hell?’ moment, he carefully ignored them until I went into the kitchen a day or so after we’d put them out and came back in to find him dragging one around by its Christmas hat. Slade now sounds like they’ve hit the bottle. Hard.

Health wise? Hmmn – I was punched by a student (not the best of days), and like many others, the sickness bug is currently visiting our house. Nuff said on that score.

Finally, my latest book for children has been released – it’s called ‘Trouble at Christmas’ and you can get a copy for your own ankle-biters kiddliwinks here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077XN1GCV (if you’re in the UK), or here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077XN1GCV (if you’re over the pond).

Make an author happy and read it with your kids in the build-up to the big day – they’ll thank you for it. And if you really want to make an author happy, please leave a review of the book.

‘Til next time, take care!

Jill

AHOW Blog Tour – my own story!

Today I’m talking about my own short story, “Joe,” that appears in the anthology A Haunting of Words alongside many other fabulous stories.

“Joe” is about a day in the life of a mother, her young son and their dog, Rufus. An altercation in the park goes some way to ruin their lovely day out.

Inspiration:

Without giving any spoilers away, I simply put myself in the place of the mother in this situation and the potential it had for what actually happens as the story unfolds.

How long have I been writing?

A long, long time! I’ve only over the last few years begun to take it seriously and taken the leap into publishing any of my work. It was a tough decision to make – would people laugh at my efforts? Would they tell me I’m no good? Any writer puts a piece of their soul into their work, so I think that taking the plunge is possibly one of the hardest things to do as it leaves you open to the public eye (and I’m actually quite a private person). However, I love writing and I wish I’d taken it seriously much, much sooner than I did!

What genres do I most associate with in my writing? 

That’s a tricky question to answer! It all began by my making up my own tales on a nightly basis for my children during their growing years –  so putting a fantasy story that was begging to be written onto paper was quite easy and it wouldn’t let me rest until I’d developed it into a trilogy. I have also written a young adult book about how social media can have an effect on lives (comedy/contemporary fiction) and loved writing it, and more recently, I’ve written a darker, more adult book that is paranormal based, and, of course, the even darker tale of young Joe. I’m quite into these stories at the moment and have various ideas tugging at my subconscious mind!

What am I working on right now?

I have two things on the go at the moment; a spin off from the fantasy trilogy that was triggered by a reader asking me what would happen if… and an adult book that involves someone witnessing the kidnapping of a little boy and the murder of his mother.

What else do I have available/published?

Okay, the books I have out at the moment are: The Seelie Princess; Rise of the Dragons; The Seelie Queen (they make up the fantasy trilogy); Nan Nose Best – about how a teenage girl’s nan posts on her social media page and the change it has on the family when her posts go viral; Sunshine Girl – a paranormal story about a girl who’s not quite dead enough, oh, and The Christmas Turkey – a rhyming story for youngsters that looks at Christmas from the point of view of an enterprising little turkey.

What advice do I give to new writers?

Get stuck in! Find out what works for you – do you need to write an outline of your story? Or are you just going to start writing with a good idea of where you want it to go? There’s no right or wrong way, just your way. If your story gets told, it’s what’s good for you! Join writer groups if you can (Fiction Writing on Facebook is rather fab) but be prepared to sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to any advice that’s given out. I always lurk in the background and get a feel for who actually knows what they’re talking about before I’ll interact! Oh, and don’t ask family members to read your work, you won’t get true reactions from them – ask other writers to beta read for you (you’ll find these via the groups you join – and they won’t hold back on telling you where you need to sharpen up so be careful who you ask)!

Links where people can find your work:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jill-Turner/e/B0142S490M
https://www.amazon.com/Jill-Turner/e/B0142S490M
https://authorjmturner.wordpress.com/

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Noble, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.

 

AHOW Blog Tour Cont’d

Today, author Donise Sheppard takes over my page with a discussion about her short story, “Coal Run Road,” appearing in the anthology A Haunting of Words, which also includes my brand new short story, “Joe”.

Blurb: Jennifer’s in love with her family’s new house. Her youngest daughter copes with the move by making an imaginary friend. When objects start moving on their own, Jennifer begins to wonder if the bargain house has a secret. There’s a perfume stench in the bathroom that won’t go away, and Jennifer sees wisps of blonde hair when nobody is around. Maybe the drawings behind the wallpaper in the bedroom are just a sick joke from a previous owner, but what if they aren’t?

What inspired you to write this story?

Ghosts terrify me. I wanted to write something that would scare someone else just as much as it scares me.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing for fun when I was a little girl. I didn’t realize I wanted to be an author until I was in college.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing?

I like to write Young Adult with science fiction and romance elements. I like the idea of incorporating real life with fantastical elements.

What are you working on right now?

At this moment, I am working on a Young Adult science fiction novel and another short story in the horror genre.

What else do you have available/published?

I have previously published six young adult novels, three of which are part of a dystopian series.

What advice do you give to new writers?

Read whenever you can, and write at least an hour a day, even when you have writer’s block, because writing anything is always better than writing nothing.

Where can people find your work?

https://www.facebook.com/authordonisesheppard/
https://www.amazon.com/author/donisesheppard

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Nobles, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.

Blog Tour Cont’d – DW Vogel

Continuing on with the blog tour, today I am talking to DW Vogel whose story ‘Rowdy’ appears alongside my own new story, ‘Joe’, in the A Haunting of Words anthology.

Title:

“Rowdy” is the story of an old dog’s last day on earth. It’s a quick piece to remind us that love never dies, and best friends are forever. 


What inspired you to write this story? 

I’m a veterinarian. The story comes from twenty years of wielding the needle that sends beloved pets on to their eternal rest. It’s an honor to be trusted with that final moment, and it’s so important for the pets and their families.

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing seriously for about five years. An avid reader since forever, I was always one of those people who said, “I can do that. Someday I’m going to write a novel.” In 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and suddenly “Someday” became a huge question mark. I realized I might not have too many “Somedays” left, and if I wanted to write a novel, it was time to sit down and write it.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing?

My science fiction series is going strong, with book two due to release at the end of June. I also had a fantasy novel published which is currently out of print due to publisher closing. My agent is currently shopping a couple of mystery/thrillers and we hope for great things in that genre.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished the first draft of a really fun project that my publisher put together. Five of Future House Publishing’s authors are writing a series together, based on a board game world. It’s a collaboration with the game’s publisher, and I was given book two of the series. The concept of writing in someone else’s world, and working with other talented authors has been a big challenge and I think the final product will be amazing.

What else do you have available/published?

I’m the author of Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden (2016, Future House Publishing), Horizon Alpha: Transport Seventeen (2017, Future House Publishing), Horizon Alpha: High Wire (short story set in the Horizon Alpha world, 2016), Flamewalker (2015, Word Branch Publishing, out of print), and I’ve contributed short stories to several other science fiction anthologies.

What advice do you give to new writers? 

The best advice is to read. Read everything. Read in the genre you want to write, and read in genres you never thought you’d like. I can teach you how to put words on a page. I can teach you how to use commas, why you should eliminate filters, and why “then” should be cut whenever you see it. But I can’t teach you the kind of instinctive flow that comes from a lifetime of reading well-written novels. I can’t teach you rhythm. I can’t teach you pace. You can only absorb that by immersing yourself in the works of the masters, absorbing their skill with their words.

List links where people can find your work:
www.wendyvogelbooks.com

AHOW Blog Tour Cont’d – Suanne Kim

Today, author Suanne Kim is talking about her short story, “Objects in Motion,” which appears in the anthology A Haunting of Words, which also includes my brand new short story, “Joe”.

Blurb: The last fours years have been difficult for Miles. In a stroke of luck, he finds love under the most unlikely circumstances–while rescuing strangers in a subway station. Mattie is everything he’s ever wanted: witty, beautiful, intelligent. Or is she?

What inspired you to write this story? I had no intention of submitting. I was engrossed working on my novel, “Prism.” But the sheer challenge of writing about a haunting called to me. And I liked the supportive camaraderie of the Fiction Writing group so I decided to throw my hat into the ring last minute.

How long have you been writing? Like most writers, forever.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing? I write mostly poetry, lit fic, women’s lit, crime fic and romance. But like my many of my main characters, I enjoy a challenge so I don’t limit myself to genres or styles. I’m always up for trying new things.

What are you working on right now? I’m working on a novel called “Prism” about a woman who wakes up in a hospital and has no memory of being viciously attacked along with her boyfriend. The man who calls 911 for help disappears and the detective tries to piece together the mystery surrounding the event. Is the caller the culprit, accomplice, witness or another victim? I’m also working on a short story about a Korean woman–a former thief and assassin–who’s out for revenge.

What else do you have available/published? I’ve had poems published with Newtown Literary and Nomad’s Choir.

What advice do you give to new writers? Hone your craft, keep reading, and develop a thick skin when asking for critiques. All are lifelong endeavors.

List links where people can find your work.
www.facebook.com/SuanneKim.author

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Nobles, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.

AHOW Blog Tour Cont’d – Laura Ings Self

Today I’m chatting to the rather wonderful author, Laura Ings Self, about her short story, “Home,” that appears in the anthology A Haunting of Words, alongside my own brand new short story, “Joe”.

Synopsis:

After losing the love of her life in a car accident, Nicky can’t bring herself to leave the flat they shared together. She is convinced she still sees flashes of her lost love, but lately the sightings are becoming less frequent.

What inspired me to write this? 

I find the best ideas come when I’m not looking for them. I was focusing on other projects, although I was aware of the open submissions for AHOW, when the idea of Nicky and her traumatic bereavement just took root in the back of my mind. The story came to me pretty much fully formed and I wrote it in just a few hours.

How long have I been writing? I wrote my first “book” aged 7 and have dabbled on and off my entire life, blogging and attempting novels and short stories, but I didn’t really throw myself into it until 2012, when I figured I would write a children’s novel during my maternity leave (hahahahaha!) and eventually finished that book in 2015. I have since written another novel and am working on getting both published.

What genres do I most associate with my writing?

Primarily drama/realism. I like exploring psychology and the human condition. I like writing flawed protagonists.

What am I working on right now?

I have put my novels to one side so I can approach them with fresh eyes at some point in the near future. Currently, I am working on a stage play called ‘Fear Itself’ about a team of security guards working the night shift at a pharmaceutical company and an as yet untitled ‘Black Mirror’-esque short story that I hope to submit for ACOW involving a reality TV show.

What else do I have published/available?

‘Home’ is my first published work.

What advice do I give to new writers?

Find a decent editor and a good group of beta readers/critical partners. There is so much more to writing a good story than telling it efficiently and with good grammar (although those things help!). I thought I knew what made a good book (I can certainly point out what makes an awful book) but I have learned so much from people in the Fiction Writing group and Facebook pages like The Writers’ Circle as well as feedback I have received from editors and agents.

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Nobles, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.

AHOW Blog Tour cont’d – Patricia Stover

Today’s A Haunting Of Words interview is with Patricia Stover.

Title and synopsis/blurb of your AHOW story:
Plastic Boy
After the death of her husband, Linda struggles to keep her difficult son happy. When he insists on a strange toy castle for his birthday, she watches her son’s defiance grow into obsession with terrifying results.

What inspired you to write this story?
It was just one of those things that pops into your head when daydreaming I guess. I can’t tell you what inspires most of my stories, they just sort of happen most of the time. I think everything in life inspires a writer. I do know that after I finished the story there were some similarities to Jimmy’s stick horse and hat and my son’s. So I guess I pulled pieces of my life into the story without knowing it.

How long have you been writing?
I was around 24 and attending college when I found my love for writing. I was attending MSC working on my basics for nursing. I took a writing course as one of my required arts. The class was asked to write a short screen play, around two or three pages I believe. Seven pages later my screen play was still unfinished. I handed in the assignment, positive it would receive an F since unfinished. The professor loved the story and suggested I take a creative writing course. I never thought writing would be something I would enjoy before that. I took the creative writing course and several literature courses. I fell in love with writing and literature. I looked forward to attending my classes. I had been a nurse aide for years before that and thought being a Nurse was my calling. It had never occurred to me I could be a creative person. Once I finished my Associates degree I went on to try for my Bachelors in English and Writing. I met my husband, got married and pregnant, so school went on hold. After I had my son I stayed at home with my son. I was thirty two when he was born. An idea for a horror novel hit me while driving one day and I thought, “I’m going to sit down and write this book.” I wrote day and night and three months later I had the first draft of “Hitchhiking with the Devil” written. Somewhere along the way I joined a writing group, Fiction Writing. I wanted to learn more about writing, and since I wasn’t in school I thought the best way would be to research it on the internet. An article I read suggested joining a writer’s group. The “A Journey of Words” anthology was open to submissions. I had one written that fit the theme, so I polished it and had it edited and it was accepted into the anthology.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing?
I write horror, dark fiction/weird fiction, although I hope to expand into other genres.

What are you working on right now?
I just finished a short story titled, Night of the Eye. Also I am still working on my first horror novel, Hitchhiking with the Devil.

What else do you have available/published?
My short story, Creepers, is featured in Scout Media’s, “A Journey of Words” anthology. It is about a greedy and bitter old woman who will stop at nothing to win a gardening contest. She stumbles across an unusual green house. Violet purchases seed that will give her what she “needs”.

What advice do you give to new writers?
Read and write a lot. It takes time and practice. Watch out for vanity publishers, and hire a professional editor.

List links where people can find your work:
www.PatriciaStover.wix.com/PatriciaStover
www.facebook.com/authorjkenedy
www.Scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-journey-of-words
www.Scoutmeiabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words

AHOW Blog Tour Cont’d – Brian Paone

On we go with the blog tour of the A Haunting Of Words anthology. Today’s author is Brian Paone with his story ‘Anesthetize (or A Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys)’. Take it away, Brian…!

Blurb for “Anesthetize (or A Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys)”

A disenchanted-youth ghost story, with a cat named Bonnie, a restraining order, lovers on the rocks, and a hanging teenager, swinging from the trees near the train tracks by the lake.

What inspired you to write this story?

It’s a rock-fiction adaptation of Porcupine Tree’s “Fear of a Blank Planet” concept album.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story, “The Night is Young,” in 1988 but, my first novel, “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts,” wasn’t published until 2007.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing?

I write in a genre called rock fiction—which is a sub-genre of musical fiction—where a single song, an entire album, or the span of a band/artist’s complete work is novelized, using the literal lyrics to directly create the plotline and story arc, and usually the title of the book/story is taken directly from the song/album that the work is an adaptation of. But what makes it special, is being able to write a story or novel where the reader doesn’t even need to have ever heard the songs/album to understand and enjoy the work. These novels and stories, although adaptations of albums or songs, are also stand-alone books. Just like you don’t have to have read a book to enjoy or understand the movie adaptation, you don’t need to have heard the album (or even need to have ever heard OF the band before) to understand or love a rock-fiction novel. Rock-fiction novels are unique in the sense that they already have two built-in audiences right out of the gate: the fan base of whatever band’s album is being adapted, and the fan base of the genre the book is written in. It’s not a prerequisite to know the album to read a rock-fiction novel. In fact, I bet most people read a rock-fiction novel purely based on its blurb and have no idea it is an album adaptation. That’s the beauty of rock fiction.

What are you working on right now?

My upcoming 4th novel, “Moonlight City Drive,”  is currently being sent to my editor this week. It has a November, 3 release date (the novel’s book release party is scheduled at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland during a two-day concert event featuring Dog Fashion Disco and Chuck Mosley, of Faith No More). It’s a supernatural crime-noir thriller set in a Dick Tracy meets Sin City atmosphere. The story follows a detective on the trail of a Jack-the-Ripper-style killer, who he starts to admire and has to decide if he should continue the cat-and-mouse chase, or join the killer and his cult of ghouls in his cleansing of society.

What else do you have available/published?

My novels:
“Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts” is about what it would be like to befriend a rock star who becomes a drug addict, and the trials and tribulations of having a friend who’s dealing with fame, drug addiction, depression, social anxiety, and the throes of the music business.

“Welcome to Parkview” is a cerebral-horror novel where the town itself is the main character, and the stories of the residents and how the town starts to eat away at the fabric of their lives. (One reviewer described it as early Stephen King meets The Twilight Zone.)

“Yours Truly, 2095” is a time-travel romance novel about a man who wakes up 114 years in the future. A future that has many opportunities for a new start from a past that is shrouded in a failing marriage and a deceased daughter. And he has to decide whether he wants to stay forever in his life in 2095, or go back and try to reconcile and repair the life he left behind in 1981.

My short stories:
“Outside of Heaven” (which appears in “A Matter of Words”) is a rapture-monster, post-apocalyptic story that deals with a group of strangers at a motel, who have to survive the night of the rapture, and the monsters who are sent to fulfill its prophecy.

“The Whaler’s Dues” (which appears in “A Journey of Words”) is a modern-day, mythological-romance story about a man who falls in love with a stripper who is not what she appears to be. And the adventure that ensues.

The third story is my A Haunting of Words story discussed above.

What advice do you give to new writers?

Sleep is for the weak.

List links where people can find your work:

http://www.BrianPaone.com

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Nobles, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.