Influenced by a book, TWG lets loose with her thoughts.. #honestpost #awareness #bullying

I need to type. I need to try and free my mind from whatever seems to be constricting it right now. I have no idea what that may be. All I know is that my mind feels trapped..
I have just finished reading a book that reopened many of my wounds, although to be honest, I’m not too sure that they were even fully closed. Throughout this post, the book title, author and overall information of it will remain anonymous. No, it’s not because I thought the book was rubbish, or any other negative views at all. The book was brilliant yet incredibly harrowing; yet I need to keep my thoughts of the book in my head for now.

I have been through many, many things in my life already. Most of which I have pretty much glazed over, acted like things are ‘fine’ and believed that my feelings and experiences aren’t worthy of peoples time…because others believe them not to be. How do you ever come back from that though? Being stuck in a place you have been made to feel as though it is the right place to be, yet all along it is wrong, and you have now lost the chance of breaking free.

When I was a little girl I used to be so afraid of growing up, yet I would dream of wearing sparkly clothes, having long, flawless hair and walking with such swagger and confidence. From the time I was a little girl to the time I became an adult, a lot of things changed. Innocence was lost and my dream of wearing sparkly clothes and walked with swagger, became no more. Instead, I just saw…black. There was no sparkle and no swagger. Instead, there was fear and trying to find my own way of surviving through the black times. Some people may use that moment to try and shine or to fight back, yet others may decide to think of everything as….FINE.
‘Are you okay?’ Yeah, I’m FINE.
‘Nothing on your mind?’ No, I’m FINE.
‘You look grumpy…’ I’m not, i’m just…FINE.

Instantly, you’ve lured yourself into a sense of false security. You know deep down that you’re not fine, but seeing as ‘fine’ seems to be your most favourable word, you tend to believe it.

The book that has influenced my thoughts tonight, has given me a real kick up the booty. It has made me realise that I need to learn to talk. I need to learn to talk about MY deepest and darkest feelings without feeling guilty. I need to realise that my feelings are just as important as JimBob’s across the road, or Phoebe’s in Central Perk…

Whilst it is extremely easy to realise those things, it is even harder to put them into practice, especially when you’re surrounded by people that seem to think that is okay to downplay your feelings and take away YOUR moment to express what you feel is important. Nobody has the right to do that, EVER. It is NOT theirs to take. Jodi Picoult made an extremely valid point (one of many) at her event recently. She was talking about what you should and shouldn’t say to a person of colour, and I also believe that those things should be taken into consideration with multiple other situations too. Jodi said that when you’re in a conversation with another person who is talking about their concerns, what you do NOT say is ‘ah I know someone with X Y & Z too’, or ‘that happened to me too’. Why? Because you then downplay their moment and cast it aside like it is of no importance, all because Clementine over the road is the same.

Whilst typing this waffle, it has made me realise even more so that I need to say F………….YOU to a lot of things and a lot of people, and say HIYAAAAAAAA to myself and my daughter. I can do it for her, I just don’t know how to do it for myself.

Maybe one day I will find the confidence to talk about situations that haunt me to this day, one that is even more important after reading that book. I will never rid myself of that situation completely, well, hardly a situation as such. All I know is, my experience of it may help others. If I can’t do it for myself, I will do it for them….whoever they are…it may even be you.

Over and out.
TWG.

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#Review! The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir – (@Lesley_Allen_) @BonnierZaffre #antibullyingmonth

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Blurb.

Biddy Weir is a quirky girl.

Abandoned by her mother as a baby, and with a father who’s not quite equipped for the challenges of modern parenting, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time painting by the sea and watching the birds go by. That is, until she meets Alison Flemming.

Because there are a few things about Biddy that aren’t normal, you see. And Alison isn’t afraid to point them out to the world.

All of a sudden, Biddy’s quiet life is thrown into turmoil. If only there was someone to convince her that, actually, everyone’s a little bit weird . . .

A story of abuse and survival, of falling down and of starting again, and of one woman’s battle to learn to love herself for who she is, The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is Lesley Allen’s startlingly honest debut novel.

What does TWG think?

I have had to psych myself to write this particular review due to the nature of the storyline and my own personal memories because of it. It takes a lot of strength to read a novel with contains such emotional situations, especially when those situations are still incredibly raw for the reader.

Meet Biddy Weir; a girl who is extremely content in her own company and enjoys the simple things in life. After all, that is all she has ever known her life to be. Seeing as Biddy was brought up by her father, the ‘basic’ female tasks had to be discussed with someone other than her father. She didn’t have a female role model. She didn’t have her mum. As soon as Alison Flemming came onto the school scene, Biddy’s life got turned upside down and suddenly her life and her thoughts became all too suffocating. The thing is, what exactly can you do when your normal is too abnormal for everyone else…

‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’ has been published in paperback to coincide with National Anti-bullying Month. A subject that has thousands upon thousands of victims and not enough people doing anything about it. As soon as I realised what this book was about, I knew that I had to read it. I also knew that it would be extremely hard for me to do so. Why? Because, like many other people, I was bullied at school from the age of five until the age of thirteen. Lesley’s book has given me nod to write about my own bullying (which I will do later on in the week on here), and hopefully others will realise it is ok to speak out.

Biddy Weir’s life was made hellish all because of one girl and her ‘gang’. The outcome of every single attack on Biddy was jaw-dropping and incredibly numbing, I felt so sorry for her. There were times (most of the book), that I wanted to climb into the book and take her away from it all, try to keep her safe. But I couldn’t. Biddy couldn’t speak out. She needed someone to speak out for her, yet no-one would believe her because they all thought she was a ‘bit weird’. Everyone around her didn’t want to do the right thing and stick up for poor Biddy;  instead, they watched/joined in with the ring leader so that they could stay in the gang. I felt physically sick reading what Biddy was subjected to, as well as reading about the toll it took on poor Biddy’s mental state. Absolutely devastating that people get a kick out of physically and emotionally attacking others. How is that fun?

The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir contains a lot of hard to read events, most definitely, but the way Lesley Allen has written them is real. Lesley didn’t fluff it up or make the situations completely unrealistic and completely fixable. She made Biddy’s life into a powerful journey. A journey that we, as readers, took with her. A journey that will open readers eyes and minds to the devastating impacts that bullying has on a person, especially as some people believe the impacts to be short-term. More often than not, the effects of bullying can last, and, just like Biddy, the scars never truly fade.

I began reading this book with my eyes and mind fully open to the implications of such a devastating topic. What I didn’t realise was how beautifully and powerfully written this book would be. I don’t want to say that I loved this book due to the subject within the book, however, I did love the book due to the powerful, raw and emotional messages that Lesley Allen incorporated beautifully into it. During the last third of the book I felt like I was getting a pep talk, and not in a bad way. The colourful character that took charge in that third, came with such a strong voice. So strong in fact, I felt as though she was talking to me and having stern words with the demons. If all schools came with such a colourful and beautiful character as that one, the stigma that surrounds bullying would be abolished.

An emotional, powerful and beautifully written book about life, re-birth, bullying and learning how to love yourself, quirks and all.

Thank you BonnierZaffre.

A Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen, published by Bonnier Zaffre, is available to buy now from Amazon UK

The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen (@@Lesley_Allen_) Blog Tour! @BonnierZaffre

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The lovely Carmen at Bonnier Zaffre Publishing, contacted me and asked if I would take part in one of their blog tours. The company publishes such incredible books and Carmen and her team know that I usually say yes to all of them. However, the book for this particular blog tour isn’t just any book. It is a book that has such a powerful message. A book which, unfortunately, a lot of readers will resonate with. National Anti-Bullying Month begins on the 31st October until 30th November 2016; The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen, examines the outcome of such a devastating topic.

Joining me on the blog today with such incredible writing advice; is author Lesley Allen. But first, here are the all important book details and its beautiful cover.

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Blurb.

Biddy Weir is a shy young loner. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, and with a father who’s not quite equipped for the challenges of modern parenting, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time painting by the sea and watching the birds go by.
With no friends, no schoolbag, and, worst of all, no mother, Biddy is branded a ‘Bloody Weirdo’ by the most popular girl in her primary school.
What follows is a heart-breaking tale of bullying and redemption, of falling down and of starting again, and of one woman’s battle to learn to love herself for who she is.
Set in a fictional seaside town in Northern Ireland, the novel is a stark illustration of the extent to which bullying can affect us all, beyond just the victim and perpetrator.
Spare, dark and often unrelenting, The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is a story with universal appeal, which ultimately affirms the value of being different.

The e-book version is available to buy now from Amazon, but the paperback version will be released on the 3rd November 2016. To purchase a copy (or pre-order) click here: buy now.

Guest post by Lesley Allen – Help! I want to write a book…

So you want to write a book, but you don’t know how to start. Maybe you have all these ideas running around in your head; genius ideas. Bestseller ideas for sure. But the thing is, you haven’t a baldy notion how to deposit them from your head onto paper. Or perhaps you have no ideas at all. Zilch. You’d flippin’ love to have an idea, any idea, but you haven’t got the foggiest where to find one. What you do have, however, is an ache to write; a constant itch that consumes and distracts you, and drives you to stand in bookshops where you stare longingly at the shelves knowing that that is where you belong. But how the hell do you get there?

That was me: no ideas, but an overwhelming urge to write, an urge that had come at me in waves over the years, but I’d always swept away citing one excuse or another; until eventually it saturated me. So, I joined a creative writing class and finally, finally, my pent-up creative ache began to unravel. The relief almost made me cry. And this is my first piece of advice – I’d suggest you join a writers group, or take a creative writing class. It doesn’t need to be anything too highbrow or serious – just a gathering of like-minded people with whom you can comfortably share your work, experiment with different styles, and spur each other on. But if you do fancy highbrow and serious, then that’s good too. And if you can’t access a class or attend a group, then there are lots of online
courses you could take. It won’t be long before the ideas start to flow, or the ones that are there already begin to take shape.

The second thing I’d say is prepare to share. For me getting honest feedback was a vital part of my early writing steps. And there’s no point in sharing for feedback if you’re not prepared to listen to criticism – so grow a thick skin. Once the novel really starts to take shape, choose a couple of readers to share your early drafts with, people you trust to give you truthful and constructive notes. It’s imperative that this doesn’t become an ego stroking exercise, so don’t select someone who’s going to tell you how wonderful your book is, that you’re an absolute genius, and that, with a talent like yours, you’re bound to become a Booker winning, best-selling, multi-millionaire, purely because they’re your mother/partner/best friend. And if anyone utters the words, ‘you’re the next J.K.
Rowling’, run a mile. Unless said words are spoken by the publisher who’s about to sign you for a six- figure sum!

Once you have your finished draft, it’s time to look for an agent, which can be just as difficult as securing an actual publishing deal. Get yourself the most recent edition of the Writers and Authors Yearbook – a must-have for all aspiring writers. It’s the most important tool you will need for the next stage of your journey to publication. And research! You should already be familiar with your genre, so identify the agents who represent the authors you admire in your category. If your book is a comedy crime caper, don’t send it to an agent who focuses on romantic fiction. Draw up a ‘hit-list’ of around a dozen agents, send your cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters to the first three
or four. Some will reply, some you’ll never hear from, and if you’re lucky one will ask to see the full manuscript. If all twelve pass, don’t be too disheartened. Get the Yearbook out, and draw up another list. Remember that thick skin you needed back in the writing class? Well, dig it out and pull it on again.

And finally, keep going – no matter how long it takes. And when you reach the point when you think it’s never going to happen (and you will, time and time again) try, if you can, to remember this thing you read once about a girl (okay, a middle aged woman) who finally got her book published after several years, ninety plus rejections, and a withdrawn deal (yes, really!). It CAN happen. I’m the proof of the sticky pudding.

Thank you to Lesley Allen for writing such an honest guest post whilst showing everyone that it is okay to be a sticky pudding or even an apple crumble.

About the author:

Lesley Allen lives in Bangor, County Down. She is a freelance copywriter and the press officer and assistant programme developer for Open House Festival. Lesley is previous recipient of the James Kilfedder Memorial Bursary, and two Support for the Individual Artist Art’s Council Awards. She was named as one of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2016 Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) recipients for
literature. She will be using the award to complete her second book.