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 his mental health problems at the time.

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

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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

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

Please welcome writer and blogger James M. Lane to my blog. James shares a true story about an accident that changed his life. When I read his story, it made me stop and think about the accidents I’ve had and whether they changed my life. Has an accident changed your life?

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.

Are You Struggling To Get People To Your Blog? These 7 Free Methods Will Help

You’ve written and published your best-ever blog post, yet hardly anyone is reading it or leaving you any comments. What are you doing wrong?

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Struggling to find readers and get engagement?

I remember how disappointed I would get when posts I’d taken days to write got hardly any visits or comments. I felt as if I was talking to myself. I had to find ways to promote my blog without spending any cash.

Here are seven methods that help me promote my blog for free and have bought me amazing results.

1. Linking Up

There are generous bloggers out there who are always on the lookout for links to your blog posts. They want to help you promote your blog posts for free. Yes, for free!

Many run weekly link-up parties where they encourage other bloggers to leave a link to one of their blog posts.

These link-ups can attract hundreds of links. Many lead readers to interesting articles such as recipes, blogging and writing tips, health tips, music, reviews, arts and crafts, and short stories. The list is endless.

By participating in a link-up party and adding a link to your post, you’ll see increased visitors to your blog and comments being left on your posts.

However, the general rule is to click at least one link from another blogger and read and share their post for every link you leave. Leave a comment if you’ve something to say that adds value to the discussion.

It could bring even more visitors to your blog if you’re lucky enough to get your link and blog post featured the following week. As it happens, it’s happened to me this week.

Image showing a comment informing me that the post I left a link for at a link-up party has won and will be featured.
Featured Blog Post

Here are a couple of link-up parties I regally participate in. Click on the buttons for more details.

My posts have been featured several times in these link-up parties, resulting in more traffic to my blog and more comments on my featured posts.

2. Blog Parties

Similar to link-up parties, blog parties are a great way to promote your blog to other bloggers and for you to discover new blogs to follow. The host will ask you to introduce yourself in the comments section, mingle with other participants and leave a link to your blog or to one of your own blog posts.

Unlike link-up parties, which tend to be held on the same day every week, blog parties tend to happen much less regally.

When I first started blogging, I hosted and participated in blog parties. I always found them to be successful and beneficial.

The rule is if you leave a link to your blog, you must at least visit some of the blogs of other people at the party. It’s another free way to promote yourself and one of your blog posts and make some new friends in the blogging community.

3. Pingbacks

A pingback is a link inserted into a post that takes the reader to another web page when clicked. They are used to connect to another website or blog post where the subject is similar to the post being read or when introducing or referring to someone. I’ve used pingbacks in this post.

Search engine optimisations such as Google and Bing rank posts containing pingbacks higher than those that don’t include pingbacks. However, beware of broken pingbacks in your blog posts because they have the reverse effect, and SEOs will downgrade the posts.

If you link to another blogger’s post via a pingback, it will appear as a link to your blog post in the comments section of the post you are connecting to. Here’s an image of a pingback I created that appeared on the blog post I was linking to.

Image of what a pingback looks like in the comments sections of a blog
Pingback

Anybody clicking on the pingback will be taken to the post it appears on.

However, not all bloggers allow pingbacks, so they may not appear in the comments section.

If pingbacks are allowed, the blogger you linked to may come back and thank you for linking to their post. In return, some may link up to one of your blog posts. However, nobody is under any obligation to do so.

You can also use a pingback to link to one of your blog posts. However, only do this if the post’s subject is similar to what you are connecting to.

Never insert links to your posts (or those of other bloggers) if there is no clear theme to the post you are linking to, as this comes over as spammy.

Top Tip: Try and add at least one pingback to every post you publish. You’ll soon see results and benefits.

And don’t forget that you can also add pingbacks to images and photos on your blog posts.

Not sure how to create a pingback? Click here for a step-by-step guide.

4. Guest Blogging

Many bloggers are often on the lookout for guest bloggers.

I’ve written many guest posts that have put my blog and writing in front of new audiences.

I’ve had people write guest posts for my blog.

It’s a fantastic free way to get you and your blog in front of a brand new audience.

However, ask yourself these questions before you accept an invitation to write a guest post.

  • Are you writing for the right audience?
  • Will their readers find your article interesting?
  • Are there any restrictions on word count?
  • Are there any restrictions on what you can write about?
  • Is the blogger you’re writing the post for asking for anything in return?

When spending time deciding which blogs you’re going to write guest posts for, always ensure it’s going to be published in front of an audience that will want to read more of your posts and visit your blog.

Don’t be afraid of approaching other bloggers to ask if they accept guest posts. You’ll be amazed at how many bloggers take guest posts even though they don’t advertise it.

5. Social Media

The sharing buttons at the bottom of blog posts are free to use, so every blogger should use them well.

Tip: WordPress has a feature that will automatically share your posts to your social media accounts. Click here to find out the details.

I recommend not having more than a couple of primary social media accounts (so as not to spread yourself too thinly). However, you should always share your posts on all your social media platforms. 

Likewise, share the posts of other bloggers on your social media platforms. In turn, some may share your posts on their social media channels. This can result in lots of new visitors to your blog.

Take a look at the following screenshot showing where most of my blog’s traffic comes from.

Screenshot showing the sites where most of the traffic and referrals come from to Hugh's Views And News
This is how powerful social media is at bringing traffic to your blog

I’ve highlighted the social media platforms that have sent traffic to my blog.

It proves that social media is a fantastic place to promote your blog posts and other bloggers’ posts for free.

Social media can demand a lot of time to work correctly (that’s why I recommended that you should have no more than a couple of primary social media accounts). I’ve found that the more time I give a social media platform, the better the results are in getting traffic from it.

6. Leaving Comments

No doubt leaving good quality comments that add value to other blog posts will get readers to your blog. Plus, it’s free to do.

Whenever I see a great comment that asks questions or has added value to a post, I will visit the person’s blog who left the comment. If they’ve left a comment that was interesting to read, they’ll probably be publishing blog posts that are interesting to read.

Beware of leaving too many short comments that add no value because those comments can have the reverse effect. Comments such as ‘Great Post’ or ‘Thanks for writing this’ or just a line of emojis look spammy.

You want your blog to look like it’s a place of good quality and interesting blog posts, don’t you? Then leave good quality and interesting comments on the posts of other bloggers.

7. Take Up A Challenge

Blog challenges can be found all over the blogging world. They are usually a writing or photography challenge (others are also available).

Hosted by other bloggers, not only can they get your creative cogs producing great blog posts, but they also help in that they put you in front of a whole new audience for free!

Using a pingback, you link your post back to the post of the blogger hosting the challenge. Once there, your pingback will attract other readers and participants to your blog.

Many blog challenge hosts will promote those who have participated by including them in a round-up post. Some also reblog some of the entries. Other participants will also visit and comment on the post you published for the challenge. They may even follow your blog!

Here’s a list of some of the blog challenges I participate in. Click on the buttons to find out more details.

Every time I participate in a blog challenge, I get lots of traffic and more comments on my blog and get new followers too.

Let’s wrap it up

  • You don’t need to spend cash to promote your blog. There are lots of free ways to promote it.
  • Never feel ashamed or frightened of promoting your blog.
  • Search engine optimisations rank posts high if they include pingbacks. Ensure every blog post you write includes at least one pingback.
  • Don’t forget that you can add pingbacks to photos and images on blog posts.
  • Make good use of the sharing buttons at the bottom of your posts and other bloggers’ posts.
  • Make sure you share your blog posts on all your social media accounts.
  • Join link-up and blog parties, but remember to visit other participants’ blogs, read their posts and leave them comments. They’ll return your visit.
  • Before accepting an invitation to write a guest blog post, ensure you’ll write it for the right audience.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers if they accept guest blog posts or if they’d like to write a guest post for publication on your blog.
  • Participating in blog challenges is an excellent way to promote your blog. Plus, challenges can spark new ideas for posts and are a great way of putting you in touch with other bloggers and finding a new audience.
  • Leaving good quality comments on other blogs is one of the easiest ways of promoting your blog. Other readers will be intrigued about who you are and what you write about.

What do you do to promote your blog for free? Have you tried any of the methods I’ve outlined in this post? What were the results?  

Join Hugh on social media. Click on the buttons below.

Copyright © 2021 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.

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Connect With Graeme

Blog

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.

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

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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.

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How A Journey Of A Million Miles Showed Me The Value Of Home – A Guest Post by Paul Ariss @PaulAriss1

I’m delighted to introduce Paul Ariss to my blog. Paul is a songwriter, screenwriter and new to blogging.

Guest blog post by Paul Ariss

Paul shares a true story about travel which gave me goosebumps when I read it because I knew exactly what he was experiencing.

Over to you, Paul.


Image Credit – Paul Ariss

In the early evening of Wednesday, 28th October 1987 I walked into a bar in rain-sodden Flagstaff, Arizona with Randy Jones, a two-tour Vietnam vet.

I’d met Randy hours earlier that day, just minutes after midnight in Albuquerque bus station.

Randy was a mad-eyed but good-hearted individual who happened to be stopping off in Flagstaff himself on the way west to an altogether different destination. Randy and I were polar opposites.

Probably fifteen years older but with a lifetime more living, Randy had fought the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta and had spent the last two months in a cave in the Rocky Mountains killing animals for his supper.

I was a pasty-faced young English office-worker whose closest shave with conflict was with a drunk in an airport who’d subsequently fallen over his own suitcase.

Yet somehow, me and Randy hit it off immediately.

After getting off our Greyhound bus and booking into our motels we decided to find a local bar, and there we laughed about the cultural differences between the US and the UK, and I let him tell as little as he felt able to share about his time as marine.

Mostly however he was fascinated about my overwhelming desire to see the country that had demanded of him as a young man to go and fight but had largely abandoned him since he returned home.

We were joined after a short time by a huge bear of a Native American man who largely just smiled and kept his own council.

But it’s true to say this night I was restless and struggled to stay convivial. After a couple of beers, I made my excuses and headed back to my motel. I had an inexplicable need to be alone.

By now the late afternoon had given way to early evening and the darkness through my motel window matched my state of mind.

Keeping Hold Of The Promise To Myself

Just ten years earlier I had made a vow to myself that I was now just hours away from fulfilling. At the time of the promise I was unemployed, and giving £5 of the £7 per week Social Security to my recently widowed father for board and keep.

Contrary to the punk counter-culture so many youths of my age were immersed in at the time, I was spending my days listening to the Eagles and dreaming of the open highways of America.

But I was a dreamer without substance. On the day I signed on for social security benefits, I was two-thirds of the way through an 18-months stint of unemployment.

Drenched by a steady drizzling rain, I needed something to aim for, something so far removed from my current situation to be almost too ludicrous to consider.

And then it came to me. I made the decision that one day I would get to The Grand Canyon.

Geographically it was over five thousand miles away from my small town in north-west England, though metaphorically it felt closer to a million. But right at that moment the thought of eventually getting there made the day feel that little bit more bearable.  

And so it was, with a decade of steady employment behind me and a modest but committed savings plan I had enough for the journey and sufficient fire in my belly to make the trip.

My anticipation had remained unquenchable and here I was finally about to satisfy that first.

So why was I so downbeat on the eve of seeing one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on earth?

When The Final Step Is The Hardest

I was lonely. Not for company, but for home.

I had been travelling on buses for nearly three weeks criss-crossing from one exciting destination to another on a plan of my own volition taking in New York City, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Nashville, Gracelands, Dallas, Denver; almost every day a new adventure, a new place I’d always heard about but never thought I’d visit.

Yet now, the day before reaching the destination I had planned and saved for over a decade, was the time I most wanted to be home.

The irony was crushing. I sat on the floor of my motel room and wept. Just a little. This feeling wasn’t what I had planned for.

I turned on the TV, a recording of Billy Joel live in Russia from two months earlier, the first rock star to play there post-Glasnost. Though not a massive Billy Joel fan, his energised demeanour helped fire me up.

“Don’t take shit off no-one”, Joel told an ecstatic crowd, each one no doubt loving the feeling of finally being able to let loose after a lifetime of social repression.

Oddly, a spark re-lit within me, enough to pick my emotions up off the floor and settle them enough to sleep after my long day of travelling.

I awoke the next day and pulled back the curtains to a welcoming early sunrise.

A slightly worse-for-wear Randy joined me for breakfast, telling me how the Native American had carried him back to his motel room at 2am. It seems I was right to have left early!

Randy saw me get on the shuttle bus that left for the Canyon.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

Less than two hours later with a barely controllable anticipation I walked through a huge double door to finally see the most incredible, majestic wonder I’ve ever witnessed.

I smiled broadly and said hello to the Grand Canyon. We had finally met. I had travelled the millionth mile.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

It had been a long, long journey but worth every step.

Later I thought about Billy Joel, performing so far from home yet feeling a kindred bond with strangers who had lived a life so culturally at odds with everything he knew. And I thought of my new friend Randy who had met someone in me who had expressed a feeling for his own country he had maybe lost something of over the years.

I thought of the Native American whose forefathers had their land ripped from them by Randy’s ancestors, yet felt the simple human instinct to carry him back to where was safe.

And as I turned away from the Grand Canyon at the end of that day my mind went back to where this had all begun and where for me the greatest riches still lay.

Home.


Writer and Blogger Paul Ariss

Paul started off as a lyricist in a song-writing partnership, before branching out into writing scripts. He’s now back to music, writing and recording solo material.

As a songwriter Paul has had songs published as part of a partnership, and as a solo writer has reached the semi-final of the UK Songwriting Contest and had a track chosen as Pick of The Week on a New York based online radio station.

As a script writer Paul has had material used on BBC radio shows on Radio 2, 4 and 5, and has been short-listed in two major script-writing contests as well as working as a Shadow Writer on Channel 4 comedy-drama Shameless, where he also contributed to its online platform.

Paul is new to blogging after getting the blogging bug in May 2020. He plans to increase his output very soon! His blog is called Songs and Scripts and Dunking Biscuits and can be followed by clicking here.

Songs from Paul are now on Spotify and all major streaming platforms have music videos to accompany them on YouTube, all of which can be accessed via his song-writing Facebook page.

Click here to follow Paul on Facebook

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Click here to follow Paul’s blog


Have you ever encountered the feelings Paul shared in his guest post?

My thanks to Paul for writing this guest post. If you have any questions or comments for Paul, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

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