Thursday Cite & Insight Invite – 27th October

Thanks to Clive over at  for nominating me for the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge.  I’ve decided to incorporate this into my Thursday blogs for the next few weeks, and so here’s the second quote below:

The rules of the challenge are:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

As I read my way through Douglas Abrams ‘The Book of Joy’ (conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu), I find I identify with quite a few Buddhist teachings.  I’m going to quote a Tibetan Buddhist prayer that is often said before a meal:

‘I am viewing this meal as a medicine.  I shall enjoy it without greed or anger, not out of gluttony nor out of pride, not to fatten myself, but only to nourish my body.’

I find the book quite fascinating, and regarding the above quote, realise my non-religious parents unwittingly brought me up to follow some of the teachings.  For example, if I reached for the biscuit barrel as a child, I was not allowed to take any more than three biscuits.  If I asked for another piece of cake I was always told no, and that nobody needs two pieces of cake!  I accepted this fact, and although I haven’t eaten biscuits for years, the one piece of cake mantra still stands.  I was also informed that nobody needs a dinner consisting of three courses, and that we only really need two meals a day as we become older.

The Dalai Lama, now in his eighties, rises at 3am every day to do 5 hours of meditation, and then has breakfast and lunch only, before retiring to bed at 7pm.  I know I couldn’t even hope to follow such a strict regime.  However, I highly recommend The Book of Joy to all my friends out there in Cyberworld.  Give it a whirl – you will definitely learn a thing or two!

I’m going to nominate another 3 people whose quotes I’d be interested in reading:

Frank Parker:

Chris, the Story Reading Ape:

Don Massenzio:



For Readers of ‘Faction’.

If any readers like ‘faction’ (fiction based on fact), then ‘A Rather Unusual Romance’ is just $0.99 / £0.99 today and until 30th October.


Erin Mason, divorced and with two teenage sons, finds her world falling apart when she’s diagnosed with cancer. Not too far away somebody else, Alan Beaumont, is also suffering a similar fate.

Their paths slowly come together in this inspiring tale, which is partially based on actual events, and shows how love can flourish in the most unlikely of circumstances.

I based Erin and Alan’s cancer treatment on what I had to go through myself back in 2005/2006, although I hasten to say that the romance part of the story is entirely made up!  I will leave you with a few 5 star reviews the book has on

1.  Stevie Turner’s A Rather Unusual Romance is exactly that. It’s unusual because its primary characters are middle-aged. It’s unusual because their “meet cute” is anything but – they’re both cancer patients. It’s unusual because that’s treated as a complication in the lives of Erin Mason and Alan Beaumont, rather than as a sentence of death. A hopeful, humorous, down-to-earth love story, partly based on reality, A Rather Unusual Romance neatly delivers on its title’s promise.

2.  A Rather Unusual Romance is exactly as promised by the title, but an unusual romance is a breath of fresh air. I enjoy some teenage puppy love now and then, but mature relationships can be just as exciting and interesting when told with the right voice. The author delivers that well-written romance for adults.

3.  This is an exceptionally well written romance that as the title promises is usual. It is unusually good. It has unusual central characters. It is unusually realistic. It is unusually powerful and moving. I highly recommend this story.





Now the central heating is installed, we’ve been thinking about selling our house and downsizing to maybe a retirement flat in a secure complex.  Therefore after visiting Mum in hospital last week, we went off to visit a couple of flats that were specifically for ‘Over 55’s’, just to see what they were like.

The first flat was empty and as we waited for the estate agent to arrive we thought we’d ring the call button and then perhaps the manager could show us around the communal rooms.  A disembodied voice came over the security intercom to say that they could not let us in until the estate agent arrived.

As we sat in the covered porch out of the rain, Sam was uplifted at the sight of a bike shed to one side of the car park.  Peering further in the dark we could see four covered mobility scooters taking up every inch of available space.  Sam made a wry comment that his 1200 cc Suzuki motorbike would take up at least half the space in the shed on its own.

When the estate agent did turn up, she pressed the call button again, and the same disembodied voice stated that she would need a key to get in.  The estate agent then had to phone her manager, who phoned somebody else.  The somebody else turned up with the key after a 20 minute wait.

Good security then!  We were impressed, and followed on towards the flat.  We passed by a communal lounge filled with walking frames and wheelchairs, giving me an eerie feeling that I was back in my mother’s very sheltered housing complex.  Residents passed us in the corridors who had been 55 quite a long time ago.

The flat was tiny.  Sam and I came to the conclusion that we would never be able to get away from one another!  We felt like two caged animals. The second flat we viewed was not much better, although there was space to park our cars and his bike.

Looks like it’s going to be a bungalow instead.  We’re not ready just yet awhile for carpet bowls on Tuesdays, a singalong on Thursdays, and Bingo on Saturdays.  The flat would have been great for my mother though, and with all her health issues she laughed like a drain when I related this tale to her.

Tuesday Newsday – 25th October

The NHS is coming under increasing pressure to reduce over-medicalisation and treatments.  More money needs to be saved, and therefore doctors have named procedures that bring little or no benefit.  Here are some of them, and I must say a lot of these are just common sense:

  • Women over 45 do not need a blood test to diagnose the menopause.
  • Chemotherapy may be used to relieve symptoms of terminal cancer, but it cannot cure the disease.
  • For children with chronic constipation, changes to diet and lifestyle should be considered first before any medication.
  • Back pain which is uncomplicated, usually does not require imaging.
  • Tests and investigations should only be done to answer a specific question, rather than routinely.
  • Unless a patient is at risk of prostate cancer because of family history, having a PSA test does not lead to a longer life.
  • Electronic monitoring of a baby’s heart during labour should not be offered routinely unless the mother is at a higher risk of complications than normal.
  • Unless the mother has diabetes, ultrasound scans do not need to be used to check the size of a baby.
  • If a patient takes a statin, there is no need to routinely check cholesterol levels unless there are added risk factors such as heart disease or stroke.
  • When patients are particularly frail in the last year of life, discuss decreasing their medications to those only used for control of symptoms.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says there is evidence that patients often pressure doctors into prescribing or carrying out unnecessary treatments, and for some time now GP’s have been advised to cut back on prescribing antibiotics to patients.

I agree with all of these ways of saving money, and also agree that antibiotics are being used too frequently.  We need to let the body’s immune system kick in for sore throats, colds and flu.  The menopause will happen sooner or later if you’re a woman over 45, and constipation in children (and adults for that matter) can be rectified with a diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables.  Thank goodness somebody somewhere has an ounce of common sense!

Also, an article by Nick Triggle,  Health Correspondent, on the BBC News app goes on to say that thousands of patients taken to hospital by ambulance face long delays before being seen by accident and emergency staff.  Data obtained by Labour showed the number of waits of more than an hour had nearly trebled in two years.  NHS bosses blamed an increasing demand.  A UNISON staff member said the delays were caused by an extreme lack of funding across every part of the NHS, and because A&E units were simply ‘overwhelmed’.

There were 76,000 waits of over an hour in 2015 – 16, up from 28,000 in 2013 -14.  The number of waits of more than 30 minutes for an ambulance rose by 60% over the same period, and ambulances made 4.7 million journeys to A&E units last year.

Whether the NHS is crumbling around us, it is not for me to say.  However, I will give 2 incidences of when I have had to call an ambulance.  One was in 2011, and the other one happened just over a week ago.

Sam and I went out for a St. Valentine’s Day dinner in 2011.  He decided to order lobster soup, simply because he had never eaten it before.  Within half an hour he began to talk gibberish, and then passed out in the chair.  When he came round he said he felt sick.  Two burly waiters got him to the toilet just in time, and then he felt better.

Meanwhile I had called an ambulance.  The person on the other end of the phone asked me if Sam was breathing.  I confirmed that yes, his breathing was fine.  She then informed me  that there might be a bit of a wait.  In fact the ambulance never arrived at all, and I ended up driving Sam’s company car (for which I’m not insured) to the hospital myself, where we waited for 3 hours in the waiting room before he was taken into Triage.  Doctors could not find a cause for his reaction.  He has never eaten lobster soup since!

Compare this to recently.  My mother, 92, started displaying signs of a mild stroke.  I called in the senior carer, who confirmed my suspicions.  The senior carer called the paramedics, who arrived within 5 minutes.  The paramedics then needed a better ECG than their equipment was able to give.  They called through for an ambulance, and one arrived within minutes. Ambulance staff did the ECG, and then took Mum to hospital, where she was wheeled through a totally full waiting room straight into Triage.  Within 2 hours she had a bed in the stroke ward, where she still remains.

I cannot fault the NHS on this latest occasion at all.  I know others will have their own stories, but I just thought I’d give the good old NHS a little boost in its darkest days.






25 Rejection Letters to Famous Authors

This gives us indie authors hope!

Kristen Twardowski


I’ve mentioned before that to be a writer is to be rejected, but how have famous authors really been treated by the publishing industry? I’ve tracked down several excerpts from rejection letters to well-known authors and shared them below. Some of them are hysterical. Others are horrifying. But all of them offer a brief peek into the realm of publishing.

Rejection Letter Excerpts

—     —     —

1. “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby Character.” – to F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

2. “Stick to teaching.” – to Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

3. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” -to Stephen King, Carrie

4. “I rack my brains why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.” – to…

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Open Book Blog Hop – 24th October

This week’s question is as follows:

What do you want readers to take away from your work when they read it?

Well, it depends on which genre I’m writing in.  If it’s a humorous novel like ‘No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal!’ or ‘The Pilates Class’, then I hope the reader will feel uplifted in a ‘feel-good’ fashion.

PilatesClassLowRes.jpgNo Sex Please, I'm Menopausal smaller.jpg

If it’s a suspenseful novel like A House Without Windows or For the Sake of a Child, I hope the reader can immerse themselves in the story enough to identify and sympathise with the main protagonists, not just while reading the book, but for a while afterwards as well.  These two novels give out subtle messages, and if the reader picks up on them, then all to the good.

A House Without Windows_Two Awards41AWjdMlYjL._UY250_

Then there are my women’s fiction family dramas, Repent at Leisure, Revenge, The Donor, and The Daughter-in-law Syndrome, detailing jealousies, tragedies and events which could happen in any family and may have even happened to the reader themselves.  Maybe the reader could learn how to deal with their own family crisis or situation by reading any one of these books.


Learn more about my life through reading A Rather Unusual Romance, partly true, and my new memoir now on pre-order, Waiting in the Wings, which is all true.  Both are written from the heart!  A Rather Unusual Romance is discounted on Kindle Countdown today and until 30th October by the way…


You can find all my books by clicking on the Amazon worldwide link below:

What do you hope readers will come away with after reading your book?  Click on the blue button below to find out others’ thoughts:

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.



My little four year old grandson recently asked me the question ‘Where does space end?’.  There was a slight hesitation while I tried to think of a suitable answer that his child’s brain could comprehend.  Eventually all I could come up with was to tell him that it doesn’t end at all, it carries on forever.

Have you ever thought about this concept?  It certainly got my grey matter ticking over. We are all floating around in space on this crowded planet, which none of us can get off of unless we’ve got a good rocket.  Even if we did manage to, there are just numerous uninhabitable planets out there in blackness of space, with not a supermarket trolley or a branch of that well-known hamburger company in sight.  We are stuck fast on Earth.  My grandson’s logic that everything must have a beginning and an end doesn’t seem to apply in this instance.

Do you often look up at the moon as I do and marvel that we have made it there and back, aided by the use of computers in 1969 which were less powerful than our mobile phones are now?  Whether you believe in the Big Bang theory or have a religious faith, the solar system is a source of wonder; to be able to travel so far would have been unheard of a century ago.  Who knows what future explorers of space might find?  Imagine what astronauts might be capable of in 500 years’ time!

Unfortunately the European Space Agency informed us recently that after 7 months of travelling,  the Mars probe “crashed” into the planet’s surface and then exploded, falling to Mars  from a height of 1.2 to 2.5 miles and was destroyed on impact.  Hopefully another launch may be more successful, and so we must wait again to discover whether there is life on other planets.  Who knows?  There may be Martians orbiting our planet as I write this.  UFO’s have been sighted on various occasions over the years, and I am keeping an open mind.

Does space end?  What do you think?

7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List

I’m still building mine, but it’s a slow haul!

Pearls Before Swine

  1. Direct Communication

Many Indie Authors don’t see the immediate need for an email list until after a book is born. That’s because after a book is published we come to see the pertinent role emails play in driving traffic to our blogs, websites, and increasing revenue. According to The Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the USA and according to The WordPress Beginner Guide, in our business, email lists get 10 times higher conversions than social media campaigns. One reason is because of direct communication. Also known as Electronic Mail, e-mail has been around forever as a way to directly communicate over the web.

While it’s unrealistic to think all (place number of subscribers here) of your blog followers are going to be reading your content and providing feedback, the hope is that at least half…

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Our Good Old NHS.


All this week I’ve been visiting my mother, who is currently in hospital.  She is much improved from last Saturday, and since her last admission almost a year ago I can see a marked difference in how patients are treated there.

Mum was assessed in A&E and admitted to a ward within 3 hours.  When they considered sending her home the next day her doctor actually asked me if I thought she was well enough!  I said that no, she was not, as when she talked she was not making any sense.  The doctor asked me if she was usually confused, and when I replied in the negative they did more tests and scans.  All the scans were  normal, but they found Mum was suffering from a severe UTI.  Now that she has been on antibiotics the infection is more under control, but they seem reluctant to send her home until she is completely recovered.  Usually in the past patients would be sent home as quickly as possible in order to free up beds, only to be re-admitted a few days later with the same complaint.

The same 5 ladies have been sharing Mum’s bay all week long.  When I worked as a ward clerk in 2002 the bed manager would breeze round every morning and demand that more patients be sent home.  Even to my untrained eye I could tell that some of these patients would be coming back within days, and I was usually right.  It seems that at last common sense is prevailing, and sick patients are actually being kept in hospital.  Whether this applies to all the wards there and to other NHS hospitals I don’t know, but certainly on Mum’s ward the ladies there are being treated very well.  Nurses seem harassed and overworked so nothing new there, but they do apologise to the patients for keeping them waiting so long for a wash.

Mum’s doctor takes much time to explain her condition instead of brushing me off with a few quick comments.  Staff are mindful to prevent bedsores, and I really cannot complain about an NHS that has taken so much flak recently.  The only problem Mum has is with the other patients whom she doesn’t seem to get along with, but that’s her problem and not anything to do with the NHS.

All in all, ten out of ten for our good old NHS, and it’s all free.  Let’s hope that it’s still there in years to come.

Friday Roundup – 21st October

1.  Thanks to Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz for these tips on writing realistic dialogue:

2.  Yecheilyah Ysrayl writes on building an author platform:

Be my guest: Yecheilyah Ysrayl – Platforms Made Easy – A Simple Look at Platform Building for Aspiring Authors

3.  Good advice from Annika Perry regarding writing competitions:

The Cost of Competitions

4.  Thanks to Myths of the Mirror for this traditional versus indie results blog:

Goodbye Traditional, Hello Indie – Results

5.  Dan Alatorre gives us 10 winning strategies for an author event:

10 Winning Strategies For Your Author Event

6.  Authors need to read this article by David Vandyke regarding Amazon ‘read’ pages:

Amazon KDP Select authors are losing page reads, apparently due to software glitches

7.  For USA authors, here’s details of Glamour Magazine’s $5000 essay contest:

8.  Chris McMullen writes regarding indie author earnings:

9.  Susan at Adirondack Editing gives advice regarding using song lyrics:

EDITING 101: 08 – Using Song Lyrics in your Manuscript…

Thanks to Archer’s Aim, Sue Vincent, D.G Kaye,  Don Massenzio, Silver Threading, Smorgasbord, Chris, the Story Reading Ape, and Kim’s Author Support Blog for the re-blogs.