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.

Story Chat: Building Your Confidence One Short Story at a Time – A Guest Post By Marsha Ingrao @MarshaIngrao

Do you like writing or reading short stories? Have you heard of Story Chat?

My guest, Marsha Ingrao, has an invitation for you.

***

Image showing a group of readers around a table discussing a story they have all read.
Image credit: Marsha Ingrao

A Short History

Last October, I asked Hugh Roberts if he wanted to write a guest post for me. He agreed. We both thought a short story for Halloween would be fun.

When Hugh’s story got lots of comments, we thought it would be fun to do a summary post, turning the post into an event with a Book Chat ambience.

Authors Win

Story Chat helps authors. They get double promotion for their story and their overall story-writing ability. 

● First, the story itself is published by someone other than themselves, so it’s put in front of a brand new audience. That is a big deal that looks good on a resume if authors try to publish the traditional way. 

● Secondly, they get free feedback on the first published post. They have a chance to see the story from their reader’s perspective and interact with them and listen to what they say to each other. 

● Third, they get additional exposure when the recap is published. There are usually more comments on this post as well. There is always a resurgence of interest in the original post at this time, too, because after reading the recap, some people want to go back and re-read the story either because they missed it or missed a certain point that someone else caught.

Image of a quote from Hugh Roberts about a short story he had featured on Story Chat
Quote – Hugh Roberts
Quote from Geoff Le Pard about his story after it appeared on Story Chat
Quote – Geoff Le Pard

Story Chat Attendees Win

The commenters sitting around the table respond to each other and to the author. They bat the ideas around in the mishmash of hundreds of comments in the comments section.

After the story airs for a couple of weeks, my job with people reblogging and pushing it on social media is to pull the comments into something that follows in a natural sequence.

I list the attendees and link to one of their posts, and they have one more link to a different post on their first comment. 

Image of a quote from D. Wallace Peach after leaving a comment on Story Chat
Quote – D. Wallace Peach
Image of a quote from Charli Mills regarding the Story Chat feature
Quote – Charli Mills

What Do You Have to Lose?

I can’t see any way that you will lose with submitting a story or leaving comments on one of the featured stories.

All you have to do is send me an unpublished story – one that hasn’t been published on your blog or used in a writing contest. If you like, you can use outcrops of a longer novel you’ve written if that part was never published. You can write the beginning, middle or end of a sequel to a book you’ve already written. 

Word-count is 500-1,000 words, and in that time, you need to develop a setting, beginning, middle, and end to a plot and develop the characters. If you are accustomed to writing a piece of flash fiction for the Carrot Ranch 99-word flash fiction challenge, you shouldn’t have a problem in meeting the restrictions of 1,000 words.

Readers will have to do more than skim the story, or they might have to come back and re-read it. This is a fun but somewhat scholarly discussion. 

Image of a quote from Cathy Code after
Quote – Cathy Cade

Why This Guest Post?

The monthly Story Chat event is 100% dependent on readers and authors.

If no one submits a story, Story Chat dies. If the story is published on Always Write and nobody reads or comments on it, Story Chat dies. As the Story Chat event host, my only job is to give you a venue to have a deep discussion about a great story. If that doesn’t happen, then the event dies.

If there are ways to improve it to draw in more authors and commenters, deepen the discussion, lighten the discussion, change Story Chat in any way to meet your needs, please leave a comment for me on this post. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Image of a quote from Cathy Cade about Story Chat
Quote – Cathy Cade

We have two more Story Chats scheduled. Our May Story Chat author is Anne Stormont, a Scottish friend of mine with a short story romance with all the adventure you could cram into 1,000 words. I loved it, and I think you will too. 

Don’t be put off if you don’t care for a particular genre. I don’t like horror stories, but Hugh sent me a horror story right out of the shoot, and wow, what a great story it was. If you haven’t read it, it’s fabulous, and so was the discussion.

We have Australian writer, Debbie Harris, from Deb’s World for our June Story Chat. The stories come in two weeks or more ahead of publication so that I can check for edits and provide illustrations if desired. 

Some authors prefer no illustrations, so I give them an option now. I do not change spellings of English, American or Australian words.

Submit and Schedule Now

If you would like or have been thinking of submitting a story, procrastinate no longer. Submit your story by contacting me via the following link – Always Write Contact.

And if you have any questions about the Story Chat feature, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.

***

Photo of writer and blogger Marsha Ingrao
Writer and blogger Marsha Ingrao

Marsha Ingrao is a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. Her all-consuming hobby is blogging which she says has changed her life.

Marsha’s friends live all over the world. In November 2020, she and her husband, Vince, sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ.

They live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with their dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince’s sister went with them and lives close by.

Masha says that every day is a new adventure.

Connect with Marsha

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Do you have any questions or comments for Marsha? Leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Not Stupid Today – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

I’m delighted to welcome Graeme Cumming to my blog. Not only is Graeme somebody I class as a friend, but he’s also a very talented author, writer and blogger.

A guest blog post by Graeme Cumming

Graeme’s true story opened up my eyes to something I’d never thought about when it comes to passing on wisdom and mistakes I’ve made in my life to those younger than me. Read his story and let him know how you pass on words of wisdom to the younger generation.


Unlike Bryan Adams, my summer of ’69 had nothing to do with playing guitar. Having struggled to play triangle during a school concert, I think it’s safe to say my musical abilities wouldn’t have stretched that far.

When I chose the wrong moment to hit the triangle, I was even more mortified than I might otherwise have been because my dad was in the audience. He didn’t tend to turn up for school stuff because of work – not many dads did back then. So, when he was able to put in an appearance, I wanted to impress him. Clearly, I was to be disappointed and, at the time, I assumed the same was true for him. It’s funny the perceptions we have of our parents.

That summer, we took a rare holiday. I suppose they were rare because we didn’t have the money for them. In those days, it was common for the husband to go to work and the wife to stay home and look after the house and children. With one wage-earner, a holiday was a luxury. Even better, we had two weeks at Mablethorpe, not just one.

Fifty-one years later, I still have great memories from that holiday. Great, though not all of them filled with joy. Not at the time anyway.

There was an incident where my dad and I were playing football on the beach. Sport had always been his forte. He’d even been signed as a professional footballer back in the fifties – though a foot injury put paid to his sporting career within weeks. Nevertheless, even with the injury, he was a good all-rounder. In his time, he played cricket, tennis and squash to a high standard, and even walked away with a trophy on the one occasion he played golf.

In contrast, my own sporting skills have always bordered on the inept. So there was very little surprise when I kicked the ball in the wrong direction, sending it hurtling out into the sea. The tide was going out and, before long, it became apparent that the ball was going with it. My dad did go after it – inevitably, he was a bloody good swimmer, too!

Like most kids, my dad was my hero. I thought he was capable of anything. So, when he swam back to shore and I could still see the ball in the distance, it’s fair to say I was disappointed. In short, I wanted my ball back.

Standing at the water’s edge, he pointed to where it was, bobbing further and further away. I felt very let down that he’d come back empty-handed. And I let him know it, too.

“You can still get it.”

“Graeme, it’s too far out.”

It didn’t look that far to me, a point I expressed pretty sharply.

“The tide’s taking it,” he tried to explain.

Perhaps the concept of tides was too difficult for a six-year-old. It was another thirteen years before I experienced the terrifying pull of the sea as a Moroccan beach seemed to recede very rapidly from my line of sight. And the overwhelming sense of relief as I somehow managed to scrabble my way back to shallow waters.

To this day, I don’t know whether my dad had ever gone through a similar experience, but he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t.

Hands on hips, I looked up at him and, in the manner befitting a child who isn’t getting their own way, let him know just how disappointed I was in him. After all, this was my hero. He was my Simon Templar, my Robin Hood, my Tarzan.

“Aren’t you brave enough?” It was an idea that was, frankly, shocking to me.

Exhausted from swimming against the tide, and faced with a similarly unreasonable question, I’d like to think I could show the same level of patience he did (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t).

“Sometimes, Graeme, there’s not much difference between being brave and being stupid.” He glanced out to the ball. “I’m not going to be stupid today.”

Naturally, this quite profound life lesson went straight over my head at the time. And yet, strangely, the incident and the words stuck with me, until one day they made sense.

I’d like to say my dad was not only a great sportsman, but a philosopher too. But I can’t. Like each and every one of us, he was a flawed individual, and over the years I learnt as much from his mistakes as I did his wise words. And I’ve learnt even more from my own mistakes, especially from my youthful certainty that I was right, that I was invincible, that I would be my own hero. But that’s part of growing up.

Now, as a father myself, I see my children making their own mistakes, and hoping they’ll learn from them too. I’ve shared my words of wisdom, and hope they’ll remember some of them when the time is right. Sometimes those words have been dressed up in stories – because sometimes it’s easier to learn when you’re being entertained.

And I do like to tell stories.


Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country.  He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas. 

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Connect With Graeme

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Books

Ravens Gathering

Where To Buy Ravens Gathering:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Waterstones

Troubador

Signed copy

Carrion

Where to buy Carrion:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

My thanks to Graeme for writing this guest post.

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


For more true stories from my guests, click on the links below

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

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

I’m delighted to welcome Victoria (Tori) Zigler to my blog today.

After reading an interview with Victoria on the blog of Teri Pollen, I invited her to write a guest post about some of the encounters she has had with the supernatural.

Supernatural Encounters by Victoria Zigler

With it being Halloween week, Victoria’s post had me thinking about a ghostly encounter I once had. However, nothing as strange as the missing bath plug in one of Victoria’s stories.

Perhaps Victoria’s post will encourage you to share your true stories of supernatural encounters?


I see dead people.

Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  I’ve wanted an excuse to use that line since I first saw “The Sixth Sense” many years ago.  But it is the truth, so I hope you’ll forgive me for indulging myself.

Anyway, it’s not just people.  It’s animals too.

Well, technically, these days I don’t ‘see’ them, because I lost my eyesight more than a decade ago to Congenital Glaucoma.  But I saw them when I still had vision, and I still hear and feel things.

👻 👻 👻 👻

I’ve lived in several places where unexplained shadows, cold spots, and footsteps, were frequent occurrences, and whispered words from unknown speakers could be heard at times.  Things you can dismiss as being other people in the house if you don’t live alone, but aren’t so easily dismissed when you’re home alone.

Like when you’re writing at 3:00am-  again – and realize that couldn’t have been your husband who just walked up behind  you, because you can hear his snoring coming from the bedroom, and it couldn’t have been the dog either, because the dog is that fluffy warm lump on your feet.

Or you’re taking advantage of everyone else still being asleep in the early morning to have a shower, and hear someone telling you to hurry up because the dog needs out.  So you rush to finish – wondering why they can’t take her – only to discover when you emerge from the bathroom that the only living being awake besides you is the dog in question, waiting impatiently by the door to go out.

Yeah.  Those kinds of things.

It would take too long to detail everything, and I doubt I could recall them all anyhow.  But, I’ve had some less subtle experiences, which I’m going to tell you about.

To clarify: the first three experiences that follow happened when I still had my eyesight.

🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃

The first started when I was maybe ten years old, and we had moved in to the house we were in fairly recently.

I woke to find my bedroom colder than usual, and a little girl in red in the room.  She looked about six, with dark hair.  She walked around the room a little, as though examining my stuff, and then disappeared.  Moments later, the temperature in the room returned to normal.

I saw her several times during the years I lived in that house, and tried to talk to her, but – though I called her my friend, and thought of her as ‘Tabitha’ – she never so much as acknowledged me.

When I foolishly mentioned her to some children from my class, they teased me and said she was an imaginary friend.  They did it so much I started to think they were right.

Until I heard my Nan telling someone about the little dark haired girl in red she’d seen several times running through the living room and starting up the stairs before vanishing.  I’d never described the girl I called Tabitha to anyone, but Nan described her perfectly, and I knew it had to be the same little girl.  When I told my Nan, she agreed.

🕷 🕷 🕷 🕷

The second was in the same house, happened a few years after my first ‘Tabitha’ visit, but only happened once.

I walked out of the bathroom one night, and standing in front of me was a little boy in a sailor suit.  He smiled, turned, and started walking away.  He’d only taken a couple of steps when he vanished.

I never saw him again, and to my knowledge nobody else saw him at all.

🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️ 🧙‍♀️

The third happened in the flat I lived in when I first moved out of my parents’ house.

I put the plug in the bath, leaving the water running, before heading to the bedroom to fetch my pyjamas.  When I got back to the bathroom, the plug was gone.  It had literally disappeared.

The plughole was empty, it wasn’t attached to the chain that usually attaches them to the bath (not surprisingly, since the chain had snapped before this) and it wasn’t on the side of the bath near the tap (which is where I’d kept the plug since its chain snapped, so where it would have been if I hadn’t put it in after all).

After searching the bathroom for several minutes, I gave up and fetched the kitchen sink’s plug for my bath.  It didn’t fit right, so I had to hold it until the water was deep enough that water pressure would keep it there, and had to be careful not to knock it with my foot, but it allowed me to have my bath.

For the next several days I searched for that plug.  My Mam even came to help me look.  We searched the entire flat, but it was nowhere to be found.

Until three weeks later, when it was suddenly back in the bath.

I lived alone in the flat, and nobody could have gotten in without my knowledge.  Plus, why would someone break in to steal my plug? Especially since I had much better things to steal.

👹 👹 👹 👹

I’ve also had visits from two of the petkids I’ve lost – the two I was most closely bonded with when they were alive.

The first was my Oriental cat, Chance.  I felt him jump on my bed one night the Halloween two years after he died… Felt the weight of him beside me on the bed.  Heard his purr.  Felt his silky soft fur rub against my hand.  And then he was gone.

I had a similar visit from my Westie, Kero, two Halloweens after he died.

It’s like my boys wanted to say one final, “Goodbye,” to me before they moved on.


Bio – Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby, chinchilla, Westie, Cavapoo, and Hermann’s Tortoise.

Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world. 

Victoria has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Victoria has published nine poetry books and 46 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Additionally, Tori’s Hermann’s Tortoise, Artemis, was featured in both the Magnificent Pets Colouring Book For Children and the Magnificent Pets Mandala Colouring Book For Adults, which are available via Praise My Pet.

Author, writer and blogger, Victoria (Tori) Zigler

Connect with Victoria

Website

Blog

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Find Victoria’s books on…

Smashwords

Amazon

My thanks to Victoria for writing this guest post and sharing her true stories with us.

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

Have you had any supernatural encounters? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share them by way of a guest post here on my blog.

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

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

My Accident: A Life-Changing Experience – A True Story And Guest Blog Post By James M. Lane @jameslanepm

I’m delighted to welcome James M. Lane to my blog today.


James is the writer for Perfect Manifesto, a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement.

My Accident: A Life Changing Experience

James shares a true story about an accident that changed his life.

When I read his story, it made me stop and think about some of the accidents I’ve had in my life and whether they changed me. Maybe reading James’s post will make you stop and think?


It was too damn early to be awake on a Saturday morning as I stumbled into the toilets, fatigued and beaten down, taking great care to ensure my flimsy hospital gown did not fly open exposing my nether regions.

One look in the mirror at my battered face was enough, the lacerations altering my soft complexion, the look of innocence stolen away overnight.

The pulsating rips throbbed on my face, with horrible bloody slash across the bridge of my nose being the centrepiece.

There is no going back from this.

As I thought how destroyed my face was, I began to cry.

I’ve looked better…

Earlier…

It was the same Friday routine, a job done 100 times before, trundling away the sentinel-like cages, filled with medical stationery, into storage for the weekend.

The weekend, that unremarkable event where I did much of nothing expect watch DVDs and write commentary for penny review sites.

Each towering cage was pushed into the storeroom with unskilled aggression, ringing out one by one, with a spectacular crashing noise as metal clashed with metal.

The room was crammed, the last bit of space for the prescriptions sat within a tight corner.

Not knowing better, I applied force to get the cage flying over the ramp, where it snapped against a dip in the ramp, falling forward with a deathly clatter.

Expletives came into my head and straight out of my mouth, as the pressure of making a 5 o’clock finish was on, and I was unable to elevate the heavy load alone.

I grabbed my colleague, Umar to assist with battling the weight of the cage.  He helped to steady the burdensome load pulling upwards, as I endured metal digging into my skin as I pulled upwards, getting it back to its upright position.

In a moment of naivety I’ll never forget, I repeated exactly the same action causing the fall in the first place, with the notable exception that I was on the other side attempting to jimmy the wheels over the dip in the ramp as Umar pushed.

Big mistake.

The cage veered towards me from the momentum provided by Umar, a bit too much, plummeting downwards, same as before, expect with myself in the way to slow the fall.

I moved most of my body out the way, so I didn’t end up trapped, shifting the remainder of the cage off with my knees.

My immediate thought was how close I had been to serious injury, but then a dull stinging from the impact rung through my face, but I was okay… or so I thought.

Blood began to seep off my head, I held my hands to stop it, a futile action as it was coming too rapidly to clot with a compression.  I looked down at my hands to see them covered in red.

The storeroom floor was cover with one big bloody puddle, with a few handprints for good measure, in a scene resembling a Tarantino movie.

After…

I lay in a bed that was not my own, with nothing but a few home comforts hastily thrown into a bag in a last-minute panic.

Staring at the ward ceiling, I became lost in my own thoughts in this cold, unfamiliar place.

I wondered what ‘normal’ people my age were doing, the ones with a social life, the types who always scared me as they always seemed so confident and sure of themselves.

Did they really have it all figured out? Or were they just as terrified as me not knowing what they wanted from life?  Did other people fear deep down that they are doomed to spend their life achieving nothing?

Exhaustion eventually caught on, sending me into a deep sleep.

Morning…

Sounds of voices in the bed opposite roused me from needed rest.  I had a pressing desire to pee, but didn’t dare move for feeling like I was interrupting a very personal conversation in a very public place.

Instead, I lay still and listened.

“You make your choices in life, your poor decisions have led you here, if you keep behaving like this, you might not be so lucky next time.”

The consultant’s lecturing words carried over as the patient responded muttering incomprehensible words, as family members occasionally interjected trying to justify his actions.

I interpreted the conversation to understand that the youth had been fighting, another young ego getting too drunk and making mistakes.

The words made me think of my own situation, I wasn’t getting into late night brawls on a Friday night, but it was my decisions, or lack of them that had got me here.

If I nearly died yesterday, would you have been happy going out like this?

Not likely!

Laying in a hospital bed for most would ruin their weekend, for me it was the most I had done in months.

My reflections turned to my dead-end job, lack of friendships and prospects.

I knew there was more than this, I knew I could be more than this.

Changing…

The next few weeks I did all the tedious things required to fix up a broken face, while thinking what I wanted.

I dreaded going back to work, not for the job itself but because I knew I would be the centre of attention as it’s hard to stay inconspicuous when you’ve been clobbered with a 200kg industrial cage and left blood stains all over the building.

People talk, they always do, and when they learned my experience had changed me, I was seeking more in my own life, their own insecurities kicked in, belittling my abilities to do anything else.

Apparently, I was too afraid do anything that would better my existence.  This just drove me even more.

With time my face healed up and I felt more optimistic that I would not have to live the rest of my life as a disfigured monster.

This was followed by giving in my resignation to go to University, a decision that shocked the doubters thinking I would never leave.

Did I nearly die?

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, maybe my accident wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but I like to think it nearly did take my life, as that feeling has always motivated me to keep striving to be better than yesterday.


James M. Lane is a dad of two, husband, project manager and the writer for Perfect Manifesto a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement, founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to be better than yesterday.

Writer and blogger James M. Lane with one of his children

Connect With James

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My thanks to James for writing this guest post and sharing his true story with us.

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

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…

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Welcome To Vietnam – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson @chuck_cljjlk

I’m delighted to welcome Chuck Jackson to my blog today. Chuck is an author, writer and blogger, and lives in Florida.

A Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson

Chuck shares his incredible story of life as a Special Forces member of an Air Force Pararescue Team in 1968. Reading his story told me how all these men and women deserve to be remembered for the champions that they were and still are.

* * *

HH-43B (Pedro) in the foreground with a Douglas A-1 (Sandy) in the background

In December 1968, after completing 14 months of Special Forces training to be a member of the Air Force Pararescue team (PJ), I left my wife in tears and joined a hundred plus men from all branches of the military for the dreaded flight to Vietnam. Dressed in our fatigues, we boarded the aircraft at Travis AFB with stops in Alaska, Japan and then on to Vietnam. The closer we got to Da Nang, the more nervous we became.

Upon our arrival, the weather was cold and rainy; the scene was bedlam, with aircrafts of all sorts and sizes parked haphazardly. Military vehicles of various types were running back and forth-carrying men, fuel and cargo. Over to the side, I spotted a haunting site I would never forget. Lined up were many baggage carts, and on them were black bags containing the bodies of men who had given their lives. I saw no honor guard, nor flag covered caskets; only those body bags lying in the freezing rain.

* * *

When I checked into the 38th ARRS (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service) Detachment 7 in Da Nang, they assigned me to an Air Force Kaman HH-43B team. The HH-43B “Huskie” or as PJs named it “Pedro” they never designed it for combat because of its slow speed, short range, and it was not armored.

My team included Air Force Major William (Billy) Atkins, First Lieutenant Lawrence (Larry) Riley, Airman Samuel (Sammy) Burkowitz, and me. Our call name was Pedro 7-5. The other three had been together for several months and I was replacing a PJ that had rotated back stateside.

The first week we did nothing but Medevac to get me broken in. Although I was told this was temporary, my ignorance of actual rescue missions left me bored and wanting more. I did not understand what my future held; however, it wasn’t long before they immersed me into the reality of being a PJ.

I was hanging out in Detachment 7’s ready room with Sammy when the alarm sounded. By the time we arrived at our bird, Billy had the engines running and Larry was standing out front watching for us. As soon as I got out of the vehicle, Larry yelled, “Come on Doc. Get your gear on; we need to be in the air.” Sammy and I didn’t have enough time to get anymore than our helmets on and plugged into the communication systems when Billy was lifting off.

I asked, “What’s the scoop?”

Larry said, “We got two Huey medivac birds down. Sandy 2-7 says he is not sure there were survivors. There are hostiles crawling all over the area and command has scrambled a support jet and a second Sandy from Dak To.”

“Are we the only rescue crew?”

Billy said, “No, Pedro 4-4 out of Pleiku will be in support, but we are the primary.” Billy snickered, “Hey Doc, I hope you put on clean skivvies this morning. You wanted a mission, you got one now.”

Within 20 minutes, we were in communication with Sandy 2-7. He all but escorted us over to the crash site. We were circling at 1,000 ft. and it did not look good. Wreckage was spread over a quarter mile, although one cabin seemed to be intact. It took another half-hour of circling in the distance, with the two Sandy’s and an F-100 Super Sabre clearing the area. Pedro 4-4 was in formation with us.

Finally, we got the call, “Pedro 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy? .”

Larry answered, “This is Pedro 7-5; Go ahead.”

They gave us the green light and Billy made the turn. We heard the Sandy, tell Pedro 4-4 to maintain his pattern. Billy made a wide sweep and then as he lowered to less than 200 ft. Sammy yelled, “We got some hostiles at 7 o’clock.” Billy instantly kicked our bird in the butt and ascended back to 1,000 ft.

“Pedro 7-5, this is Rooster nine-err, two—two. Maintain your altitude.”

Billy replied, “10-4, Rooster 9-2-2; Roger that.”

Out of nowhere, a F-100 swooped in below us and hit the area with an onboard rocket followed by his guns. The target lit up with flames and smoke.

Sandy 2-7 cleared us again for an approach. This time we saw nothing, and Billy brought us in, hovered at six ft., and I jumped. Billy immediately rose and was making tight sweeps. I ran toward the cabin. When I got within 100 yards, I started seeing body parts. While still strapped I found the pilot in the cockpit, the other two were lying outside at various distances. The body parts seemed to come from one individual.

I radioed, “Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

Larry responded, PJ 7-5; Go ahead.

“No survivors here. Give me the direction to the other site.”

“PJ 7-5, 3 o’clock and 200 meters.”

“10-4”

I hightailed over toward the other site. I had to break through some thick brush. Once I did, I saw a burned cabin, or what was left of the cabin. I also saw severely burned bodies. I only found what I could identify as two crew members.

“Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

“PJ 7-5; Go ahead.”

“No survivors here. Check on the number on board this Huey.”

“PJ 7-5; Roger that.”

While I waited, I searched the area. The stench from the burned bodies was nauseating. I checked in all directions, finding nothing.

“PJ 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy?”

“Sandy 2-7; Go ahead.”

“Command says crew of three on each bird. Copy?”

“10-4, Sandy 2-7; thank you.”

Billy instructed me to return to the first site. He said Pedro 4-4 would handle the burned site.

With both Sandy’s, keeping watch over our backsides, Billy landed at the first site. He kept our bird’s engines running. Sammy helped me get the pilot out and put him in a body bag. We gathered as many body parts as we could find and put them in a separate bag. We did not have another bag, so we used a tarp out of our emergency locker and wrapped the third crewmember. Then we loaded all three in our bird.

Pedro 4-4 landed at site two and it took its crew 30 minutes to find the third crewmember. We left before Pedro 4-4 and headed for our base. For the last week, I had hauled body bags when we did Medevac. However, this seemed more dismal. Perhaps it was because these were flight crews and not Army grunts. No one spoke on the return to base.

As I helped unload our formidable cargo, I must have had a melancholy appearance. Billy walked over, put his arm around me, and said, “I’m sorry to tell you Doc, it doesn’t get any easier.” Then, cynically, he added, “Oh yeah, Welcome to Vietnam.”

Thoughts of a Pararescueman

I am that which others do not want to be. I chose to go where others fear and excel where they have failed.

I ask for nothing from those that will not give… and reluctantly accept the thought of eternal loneliness, …should I fail.

I have seen the face of death, felt the stinging cold of fear; I have realized the harsh reality of just what this job is all about. I enjoyed the sweet taste of victory and love; but those were just fleeting moments.

I have cried, pained and hoped, most of all, I have lived times others would say are best forgotten…But,

At least I will be able to say that I was proud of who and what I am and that in my heart and soul I will always be a “PJ”

<Unknown author>

“These Things We Do, That Others May Live,”


Author and writer Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in Southeast Florida. He was an ‘Air Force Brat’ and followed his dad’s 33-year military career by also serving four years in the Air Force.

He is an extensive reader and since retirement; he has spent much of his time studying and enhancing his love for writing. This story is taken in part from his published memoir. He is a two-time cancer survivor and draws his strength from his faith and church activity.

For years, he spoke little of his Vietnam experience, suffering similarly as many Vietnam Veterans anguished in silence. With this writing, he wants to help return the honor and dignity of those that served with him. He dedicates this story to those men that proudly served as PJs.

Connect with Chuck

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Chuck’s story appears in the Anthology – Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020.

Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020

Click here to order your copy.

My thanks to Chuck for writing this guest post.

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

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

A Different Type Of UFO – A Guest Post By Mae Clair @MaeClair1

Hugh, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today! I’m delighted to be here, and happy to share an encounter I had when I was a child. It might sound a little off the wall, but…

When I was six, my family lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My father and I had a habit of sitting on the porch after dinner. We’d take in the sights of people passing on the sidewalk, cars on the street, the occasional thunderstorm. That evening, my dad fell asleep as twilight settled.

Was there traffic? Maybe.

People on the sidewalk? Not then.

What I can tell you—what I still see clearly in my mind—is the object in the sky. I can’t recall if it suddenly appeared, popping into view, or slid from somewhere overhead.

Before I continue, however, I’d like to share some facts you may not be familiar with. As an example, did you know most UFO sightings are not of the saucer-shaped variety, but light sources?

Image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Have you ever heard of a “UFO Flap?” This occurs when an exceptional number of sightings are confined are to a specific area during a limited time frame. Point Pleasant, West Virginia experienced a well-publicized flap during 1966-1967.

Several years ago, while reading a book on UFOs, the author mentioned the skies above Harrisburg, Pennsylvania being filled with light sources. Guess what year? Yep—I was six years old. Harrisburg didn’t experience a flap, but there was a buzz of activity.

Next up: I bet you’ve heard of Men-in-Black. But did you know the late author, John Keel, coined the phrase to identify mysterious strangers who descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966? MIBs, as they’re called, had one purpose—find anyone who’d reported seeing a UFO and warn them not to talk about it.

The government denied the existence of MIBs, as did the Air Force, but there were plenty of eyewitnesses. When you descend on a rural area in shiny black Cadillacs, wearing black suits and broad-brimmed black hats, you’re bound to stand out.

Speaking of rural sightings, did you know pastures and fields are often covered with blobs of a mucous-like substance after a UFO appears? Many locals refer to these globs as “starsh*t.”

I could go on, but let’s get back to Harrisburg, and that warm summer night with my dad.

Sometime after he nodded off, the cloud appeared. Not a normal cloud, but something massive and green, moving rapidly across the sky. I remember looking from the cloud to the ground because it emitted a broad beam of light, the same eerie green as the cloud.

The light scrolled across the sidewalk, onto our front lawn, then crept onto the porch, enveloping me, edging near my father. I don’t remember if it touched him, but I looked up into the light.

The next thing I remember is being on the sidewalk, several houses down, with my dad. People were everywhere, chatting with excitement. A woman with two children stopped to talk to us. I distinctly remember her telling my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.”

This incident has stayed with me, vivid in my memory, but there’s something that niggles in the back of my mind. Why didn’t I tell my dad what I’d seen, especially given the excitement on the street? Why is everything blank from the time I looked up into the light until talking to the woman on the sidewalk?

A Cold Tomorrow, the second book of my Point Pleasant trilogy, deals with UFO sightings and MIBs. I dumped a ton of research into the entire series, including making two trips to the actual locations that factor into the story. Something I found highly interesting while doing research: many UFO witnesses don’t recall the incident until years later—especially if they’ve seen a light source.

Some experience “Flicker Phenomena” an occurrence that mesmerizes the individual and blocks the incident from their mind. I wish I could recall when the memory of that warm night in Harrisburg resurfaced. I know it was there by the time I reached high school, because I was enthralled by the idea of spotting a UFO. I desperately wanted to see one again.

I never did.

Many people are able to talk of their encounter immediately after witnessing the sight. Some experience conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eyes.

When I wrote A Cold Tomorrow, I wanted the cover to reflect the image in my head. My green cloud scrolled across an urban street­ whereas Point Pleasant is a rural river town. Even so, my cloud factored into my fictional “flap.”

Dirt lane image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Excerpt from A Cold Tomorrow:

Doreen Sue Lynch stubbed her cigarette into an ashtray and craned her neck to glance out the kitchen window. Her grandson, Sam, had promised not to stray. He’d helped her with the dishes after dinner, then begged to go outside with Rex, a friendly mongrel mix of Australian shepherd and retriever. She’d agreed to take her boyfriend’s dog while Martin’s house was being fumigated for spiders, and Sam would stay overnight because Katie was off visiting a friend.

Not that she minded. She loved having Sam, and Rex was hardly any trouble. Boys and dogs were good together, both bursting with bundles of energy. Even so, she’d have to call them in soon. It was getting late in the evening for an eight-year-old, and she wanted to set a good example as his grammie.

Spying him through the window, she drew in a sharp breath. An eerie green light spilled from somewhere above, haloing him in a cone of brackish illumination. Stock-still, Sam stood as if transfixed, his head tilted back as he gazed up into the weird light. Somewhere out of her line of vision, Rex barked furiously. The sound made the hair on the back on her neck rise, but by the time she reached the door and wrenched it open, the dog had stopped yapping.

“Sam.” Doreen Sue walked onto the rear stoop just as the green light winked out. Like someone throwing a switch. The jarring abruptness left her off-kilter and lightheaded.

It isn’t happening. Not again. Please God, not to Sam.

Shaking off her vertigo, she sprinted from the stoop and was across the yard in record time. “Sam.” Gripping her grandson by the shoulder, she gave him a gentle shake, drawing his attention from the sky. There was nothing. Nothing she could see. “What are you looking at?”

“Huh?” He blinked as if waking from a fog. “N-nothing. Just a cloud.”

Doreen Sue bit her lip. Sam sounded befuddled and, although he wore a jacket against the crisp October air, he shivered. “Look at you. You’re cold to the bone. Let’s get inside.”

Wrapping an arm around his shoulders, she cast a worried glance at the sky. Nothing is there. Nothing was ever there. “Did do you see where Rex got to?”

Sam shook his head as she led him toward the house.

“All right, you go inside and get warm. I’ll look for him.” The dog’s barking had sounded frighteningly out of control. Nothing like the gentle animal she knew. “I won’t be long.”

Sam hesitated when she held open the back door.

“Grammie?” His expression hadn’t changed, still composed of that same odd blankness as if he moved in a haze.

“What is it, baby?”

“Do you have any paper?”

Puzzled by the question, she cocked her head to the side. “What kind of paper?”

“For drawing. I want to draw the cloud.”


Although I changed the events of the encounter in my book, it remains lodged in my head with a sense of wonder and curiosity I hope never to lose. I want to thank Hugh for allowing me to visit and share the story.

If you’d like to read more about UFOs, may I recommend my novel, A Cold Tomorrow? Within its pages, you’ll find green clouds, animal disappearances, MIBs, bright lights in the sky, power outages, and plenty of other oddities. It’s based on historical facts, legends, and folklore surrounding the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

A Cold Tomorrow Blurb:
Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive…

Click here to buy A Cold Tomorrow.

Red house image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads

My thanks to Mae for writing this guest post.

Have you ever seen a UFO? What happened and how did you deal with it? Do you have any questions or comments for Mae? Please leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (No comments for Hugh, please).

Top image credit: Hugh W. Roberts. All other images are owned by licence to Mae Claire.

Are the Strangers in Your Dreams Real People or just Figures of your Imagination?

A few week’s ago I kicked off a blog tour for the launch of my new book, More Glimpses. My first stop was at the blog of author, writer, and blogger Debby Kaye, where I was given a terrific welcome.

The guest posts I’ve written for the blog tour all come from some of the characters found in the stories in More Glimpses. Click the link below to meet Jane Collins, who appears in the story The Jump. She asks an interesting question that may have you questioning who appears in your dreams.

Guest Author Hugh Roberts Launching More Glimpses

#MoreGlimpses #books #shortstories

My thanks to Debby for inviting me to use her blog for the tour.

I’ve closed comment here. Please leave any comments over on Debby’s blog.

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How To Bake The Perfect Blog Post

Check out this ‘tongue-in-cheek’ look at how to write the perfect blog post from the point of view of a blogger (me) who can’t cook.

via Guest: How to Bake The Perfect Blog Post

My thanks to Esmé over at The Recipe Hunter for inviting me to write a guest post.

Comments are closed here, so please leave any comments over on the original post.

#bloggingtips #blogging

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