How I Boosted My Confidence To Write And Publish My First Book – A True Story And Guest Post By Stephen Havard @StephenHavard

What’s stopping you from writing and publishing your first or next book?

What was it that helped you write and publish your first book?

You may be surprised by what it was that helped my guest Stephen Havard write and publish his first book. I’d never have guessed. But not only did it help Stephen write and publish his book, it also helped him with mental health problems he was encountering at the time.

A very warm welcome on Hugh’s Views And News to Stephen.

Blog banner for the blog post 'How I Boosted My Confidence To Write And Publish My First Book'
A guest blog post by Stephen Havard

It’s January 2011, and I was sitting at my desk at work feeling depressed. It had only just gone 4.30, and it was already starting to get dark, the grey drizzly day now being consumed by blackness. The advent of the shortest day last month hadn’t taken effect yet, and my mood was as dark as the picture outside the office window. 

Christmas had been great; time with the family and a period away from the laptop was just what I needed. Unfortunately, this had only been a brief respite, and here I was once again sitting before a computer in a job I hated more and more by the day.

I was stuck in the rat race with no way out, and it was draining the life out of me more and more. I needed something to spark me into life; the only question was what, though?

My job was the main issue, but the option to leave wasn’t possible right then. I had a young family to support and couldn’t just jump ship. I’d have to persevere with it for the time being and find another outlet to lighten my mood.

That outlet came unexpectedly to me a few weeks later as I browsed the BBC website and noticed that the quiz show ‘Pointless‘ was looking for contestants.

I’d loved quizzes from an early age and had even auditioned for another quiz show, 15-to-1, without success after leaving university in 1997. Over the intervening years, my passion for quizzing had remained, regularly going to pub quizzes and still avidly watching every quiz show on the TV. I had never applied for another quiz show, though.

Was this a sign?

Pointless was one of my favourite quiz shows and something that played into my relatively obscure knowledge. This contestant call which was now staring back at me was surely telling me to apply and once again try and get onto a TV quiz show.

I spoke to my wife, who was seated beside me and urged me to apply and follow my dream. She knew how much I hated my job, how it affected my mental health and made me quite hard to live with at times. She wanted me to be happy and believed that the simple act of applying for this quiz show would help in that regard.

So that very moment I applied, buoyed by the enthusiasm of my wife, I spent hours perfecting our application in the hope that what I was writing would be what the show wanted. I say ‘our application’ as my wife had agreed to be my partner on the show as well.

Now I’m not the most patient of people, and as the weeks passed without any news, I thought the worst. Had my attempt at TV stardom fallen at the first hurdle? The very thought that it probably had depressed me even further.

Over a month later, I was again sitting at my desk and facing a now-familiar dilemma. What was I going to do to get out of the malaise my life was currently in?

While I sat there debating the options, my phone started to ring. A quick glance at the screen told me it was from a private number, another bloody call centre, I guessed as I declined the call.

Less than a minute later, I heard the familiar beep that indicated a voicemail had been left. Strange, I thought as I picked up the phone and dialled my answerphone, those call centres don’t usually leave voice messages. And as I listened, my heart began to beat more quickly. The voice at the end of the line was from a casting researcher at Pointless who wanted me to ring them back!

And to cut a long story short, my wife and I seemed to impress them on that phone call, Cathy being rung moments after me.

Our successful telephone audition led us to a hotel in Cardiff a week later for a face-to-face audition.

Now, this was the scary bit. Not only did we have to impress the researchers there, but we also had to do it in front of a room of 30 other hopeful contestants.

I’m quiet by nature but knew I had to shine here and create a persona that the TV execs wanted on their show. Having my wife there helped me as she is naturally more outgoing and chattier than me. I treated that day as a job interview, I knew I had to impress, and that’s precisely what we did as a couple of months later we were at the BBC Television Centre in London recording our episode of Pointless.

Photo of Stephen Havard and his wife on the TV quiz show 'Pointless.'
Steve and his wife, Cathy, on the TV quiz show ‘Pointless.’

It was a day I’d never forget as we came away with a Pointless trophy and the jackpot!

So how does appearing on a daytime quiz show lead to me writing my first novel, I hear you ask.

Well, since that first quiz show appearance in 2011, I’ve auditioned and appeared in many more shows with various degrees of success. Quizzing has become a great passion, and I love to appear on TV to show off my knowledge and test myself against other great quizzers.

I’m also convinced that appearing on them vastly improved my confidence and helped with my mental health.

Writing a book had also been something I’d always wanted to do, but like most things, that passion had been put on the backburner with work and family life taking precedence.

Then in March 2020, lockdown happened, and my life, along with the rest of the country, changed utterly. I was ‘working from home’ permanently, and my daily commute of over 2 hours had suddenly disappeared.

Despite the awful circumstances of the pandemic and lockdown, I sensed this was an opportunity to follow that dream of writing a novel.

The only question was what to write about?

This had been a conundrum for so long and another reason why I hadn’t yet typed any words. Yet during those first few weeks of lockdown, the idea of my debut novel locked into place, and it was an idea that was staring me in the face all along if I’m being honest now. Why not write about my other great passion, that of quizzing!

And that’s what I did over the next seven months as ‘The Duel’ took shape. It incorporated the world of quizzing, which I knew well and required very little research with a murder mystery.

‘The Duel’ was self-published in November 2020 and has been well received by readers that have bought it. It’s a story I’m happy to have told at last, and I hope it may lead to a full-time writing career eventually (fingers crossed).


About Stephen Havard

Photo of Stephen Havard

Stephen Havard lives in Swansea, South Wales, with his wife and two children, he also has 2 stepchildren.

Currently working in the IT industry, he enjoys quizzing and watching Swansea City football club in his spare time.

His quizzing exploits have resulted in a few TV appearances, with varying degrees of success!

The Duel is Stephen’s first novel.

Connect With Stephen

Twitter

Amazon

Stephen’s Book – The Duel

Ashley White is desperate. An ill-advised investment in cryptocurrency has left him in financial meltdown, with the bank threatening to repossess his home and a wife that knows nothing about the mess he is in.

A new quiz show called ‘The Duel’ is about to hit the TV screens, offering a mouth-watering 2 million pounds to the winner. The show is to be hosted by Patrick Reed; the scandal-hit presenter who hopes it will revive his flagging career.

Ashley hopes the show can be his way out of his financial problems and does all that is necessary to appear, even when those things have murderous intent.

Image of the book The Duel by Stephen Havard
The Duel – by Stephen Havard

Available on Amazon UK

Available on Amazon.Com

My thanks to Stephen for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Stephen, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

If you enjoy reading true stories, check out these previously published true stories

Supernatural Encounters – True Stories And A Guest Blog Post By Victoria Zigler @VictoriaZigler

Please welcome author, writer and blogger, Victoria Zigler to my blog.

Just in time for Halloween, Victoria shares some true stories of supernatural encounters she has experienced, including one about a missing bath plug.

Have you had any strange, supernatural encounters?

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via theContact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How Blogging and Rod Serling Helped Me Conquer Dyslexia – From My New Column At The Carrot Ranch

What does Rod Serling and Blogging have in common? They both helped me overcome my fear of being dyslexic.

I’m delighted to announce that my first post, ‘How Blogging and Rod Serling Helped Me Conquer Dyslexia‘ has now been published on my new column, Diversity with a Twist, over at the Carrot Ranch blog. Click on the image below to be taken straight to it.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background
Hugh’s new column on the Carrot Ranch blog

The post has received lots of comments, and you’re all welcome to come on over and join the discussion.

I’ve closed comments off here so you can leave any new comments on the original post.

I look forward to seeing you at the Carrot Ranch.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

True Stories: Gay Memories – The Day My Life Changed #LGBTQI #LGBT

When I woke up that Saturday morning, little did I know that something I was hiding from view from others was about to have the key put in the ignition and set me off on a journey that was to become the life I was born with.

True Stories: Gay Memories

It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.

After breakfast, I’d sit down and watch Multi-Coloured Swap Shop – a Saturday morning children’s TV show.

The theme to Swap Shop

The fact that I was 17-years-old didn’t put me off from watching it. I loved watching it. It got my weekend off to a perfect start.

Just after midday, I always made my way into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. Like Saturday mornings, I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television.

My parents thought it unusual for a boy of my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about the reason for me not wanting to go out. Years later, I discovered my mother had already suspected I was gay.

Whereas boys my age were going out to drink alcohol and date girls, my Saturday evening treat was the snacks (including a small trifle from Marks & Spencer) and Saturday evening television.

I always visited the same shops, either to browse or to buy something. On this particular Saturday, though, something I’d seen on TV that morning made me go into a shop I hardly ever visited.

Chaz and Dave

Scanning the shelves full of newspapers and magazines for the music newspaper I wanted, it soon caught my eye.

On the front was a picture of the singing duo Chas and Dave. I didn’t particularly like their music, but I found both men sexually attractive.

Picking up the newspaper, I flicked through it, pretending not to notice the picture and taking little if any notice of who was around me.

Towards the back of the newspaper, I stumbled upon the advertisement section, and one of the adverts immediately got my attention.

It was a significant point in my life which opened up a door and invited me to step through.

I didn’t personally know any other gay people, yet here was an advert in a music newspaper about a world I belonged to yet knew little of.

Gay?
Then you should read Gay News.
Once fortnightly.
For a copy, send a postal order for (I can’t remember how much) to –

At that moment, a member of staff entered the shop and shouted over to the cashier –

“I see the library is open again, Karen.”

She was referring to me and a few other customers who were all flicking through various newspapers and magazines. I quickly closed the paper and checked around to see if anybody had noticed me reading the advert.

At that point, I wanted to put down the paper and rush out of the shop, but the chance of being in touch with other gay people stopped me from doing so.

I told myself to be brave and quickly walked over to Karen, and nervously placed the newspaper by the cash register. “Got everything you need today?” she asked me as she pushed the keys on the cash register.

Nodding my head, I could feel myself blushing. I thought she knew which advert I’d been reading and was about to stand up and announce ‘This one’s queer!” Of course, that never happened.

As I walked home, my heartbeat raced. I kept looking behind to check if anyone was following me. After all, unlike my straight friends, it was still illegal for me (as a gay man) to have sex with a same-sex partner until I was 21.

Precisely one week later, I waited patiently for the postman to arrive. As soon as my first copy of Gay News came through the letterbox, I rushed downstairs before anybody else got to the post.

I was relieved that the people at Gay News did as they had promised to do in their advertisement. My copy of the paper arrived in a plain brown envelope.

My hands shook as I took the envelope up to my bedroom. Carefully tearing it open, I allowed the life I’d been hiding to start coming out of the closet.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

The Entertainment Files – Condoms! Condoms! Condoms!

The Entertainment Files is a brand new feature on Hugh’s Views and News.

Over the coming days/weeks/months/years, I hope to entertain you with humour, laughter, challenges, music and lots more.

We kick off the series with my all-time favourite moment from the American sitcom television series, The Golden Girls. Warning – it does contain some adult humour.

The Golden Girls is an American sitcom television series created by Susan Harris. It originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning seven seasons.

The show stars Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty as four older women who share friendship, and a home in Miami, Florida.

Source: Wikipedia

I hope the clip made you laugh as much as it makes me smile whenever I watch it.

Have you watched The Golden Girls? Do you have a favourite scene from the show? Share it with us in the comments section or by creating a new blog post, linking back to this post. Click here to find out how to create a pingback.

Make someone’s day by making them laugh.

Looking for more entertainment? Click on ‘The Entertainment Files‘ on the menu bar.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why Do Men Sit On The Left And Women Sit On The Right?

This is no joke. Sorry if you thought I was going to double you up with laughter. No, today I’m talking stereotyping! I thought it a thing of the past, but it seems it’s as evident today as it has always been.

Take, for example, television. Have you ever noticed that during a pub scene on a TV show, the men seem to be constantly drinking pints or bottles of beer while women are drinking glasses of wine or a gin/vodka tonic?

How often have you seen a man in a pub scene drinking a glass of wine and a woman drinking a beer? Some may say it’s down to taste, but surely not all the men in Coronation Street only drink beer while the women always order a glass of wine?

I’ll give it to Emmerdale (another UK soap opera), as I have seen at least one female character (the vicar!) drinking a pint of beer. It’s refreshing to see, but I’ve yet to see any of the men walk in and ask for a gin and tonic! It’s always “pint please, Chas.”

Let’s turn our attention to the news. I know many people don’t watch the news on TV because it’s always depressing, but take ‘Breakfast’, the BBC early morning news programme.

Why does the man always sit on the left of the screen and his co-presenter, a woman, always sit on the right? Is it some kind of power struggle? Why can’t they occasionally swap positions?

Charlie State and Naga Munchetty
Charlie State and Naga Munchetty, Presenters of BBC’s Breakfast – He always sits on the left while she always sits on the right.

Which leads me to why it always has to be a man and a woman when two people read the news on TV? ‘Breakfast’ occasionally has two women presenting the show, but I’ve never seen them have two men present the show. Why? Is it not acceptable to have two men present the news together?

It’s precisely the same over on ITV. The man sits on the left of the screen while the woman always sits on the right.

Have you noticed that the male presenter seems to be a lot older (not you, Charlie) than the woman presenter? Very rarely is it the other way around? Is there a reason for that?

Let’s move on to driving. Yesterday, while waiting to cross the road, I counted the number of cars that drove past where a man and woman sat in the front of the vehicle. Would you be surprised if I told you that it was the man who was driving in just about all of the cars?

I’ve seen it when on holiday as well. Most of the time, it’s the man who drives a hire vehicle while the woman sits in the front passenger seat.

It happens in our family all of the time. We go and collect my sister-in-law, and her husband and I can guarantee that my sister-in-law will sit in the back of the car while her husband will sit in the front passenger seat.

The same goes for my niece and her boyfriend. When they come down to visit us, he always does the driving regardless of whose car they are using.

Take two couples going off on a car journey together. Why do the men always sit together in the front while the two women sit in the back of the car?

London 2012 Olympic Games
Celebrating at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sport also suffers from stereotyping. Today, I was delighted to hear that Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow won an Olympic bronze medal in the synchronised 10m platform diving.

On TV, ‘Breakfast’ mentioned it all morning, and the interview with Daley and Goodfellow was aired far too many times. They even interviewed a friend of Daley and Goodfellow who talked the audience through the last dive more times than I care to remember.

However, where were Clare Balding and Co when Ed Ling won an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s trap shooting for Great Britain? Was he not worthy of an interview, Ms Balding? And why, unlike Daley and Goodfellow, did he only get a few seconds of a mention on ‘Breakfast’? Ed, if you’re reading this then, unlike the BBC, I’d be delighted to interview you and celebrate the fact that you won an Olympic bronze medal.

Finally, let’s turn back to drink. How many of you ladies enjoy drinking whisky? Does anybody out there consider whisky is only a man’s drink? Why am I asking these questions? It’s something that recently came up in conversation.

It seems I’m as guilty as most others at stereotyping. Reading through this post, why did I put an exclamation mark after the word vicar? Do vicars not drink alcohol?

Do you have any examples of stereotyping in today’s world? Does it bother you, or is it something we just take for granted?

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

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