Archive for January, 2013


My daughter and dyslexia

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I wrote this for The Write Practice today – a short piece about my wonderful daughter and how she was affected by Dyslexia.

I sat in the village hall with all the other proud parents, on hard plastic chairs, watching two little girls singing on their own. They were a comical sight really – one small and round, one tall and lean, wearing their black Stage School t-shirts and leggings. They were singing ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele, their voices loud but shaking slightly, not able to disguise the nerves they were obviously feeling.

I had salty warm tears pouring down my face. I felt kind of embarrassed because no-one else was crying as much as I was, but one of those little girls was my youngest daughter. Two years previously she would never have done anything like this. Two years previously she wouldn’t have even wanted to sit in the front row of the audience – “I don’t want anyone looking at me!” she used to say.

My daughter has Dyslexia. And yes, it’s not a life threatening condition or an illness where one has to have treatment or medication, but for her it is a huge stigma. Especially in a family where her mother and older sister eat books and love to write. She just wanted to be like everyone else.

It took quite a long battle with the school to get them to recognise she was having problems. I realised when she was in year 2 that things were not quite right, but her teacher just told us our daughter had some mild difficulties that didn’t require any extra help and she’d soon catch up. My daughter hated school that year. Her friends were all reading and writing. She thought she was ‘stupid’. Her worst experiences were when they were expected to read aloud to a group of class mates. You can imagine how humiliating it must have been for her to have to stand there in front of her peers and not be able to make sense of the words on the page.

My daughter is beautiful. Yes, I know what you are thinking – I’m biased, I would think that, but we get comments about this all the time from friends, acquaintances and people we have just met. “She could be a model!” they say. I tell her this all the time, but she can’t see it. She has other qualities too – such determination! If she decides she is going to do something, then she is going to do it, come what may. Her sister is two years older, but my youngest daughter was the first to ride a bike without stabilisers, the first to learn to swim. I’ll never forget the first time she swam under water. It was in the middle of a hot summer, and they were in the little outdoor pool at the school. I was stood watching on the side, wishing I could be in the cool water with all the children. My daughter’s  best friend wanted to show me what she had learned on holiday, and ducked under the surface of the pool, and then my daughter, not to be outdone said “I can do it too!” and flung herself down. My heart was in my mouth, I thought she was going to drown, but seconds later up she popped, a huge grin on her face, and then she did it again and again. There was no stopping her from that moment on.

It was Year 3 when we finally had a breakthrough at the school. She had a wonderful teacher that year, one of the best I have ever met. A large, solidly built rugby player of a man, loud and enthusiastic and great fun. He had a knack for bringing out the best in his pupils, and was always very encouraging. We told him of our concerns and a few weeks later he came back to us with an apology. “Yes, you are right, she does have dyslexia,” he told us, “we are going to put in some extra support for her.”

Her confidence soared that year. Suddenly she was asking for speaking parts in school plays and telling us she wanted to join the Stage School her sister attends on Sunday mornings.

Two years later there we were, watching her singing and dancing and acting in front of an audience and loving it. I’ve never been so proud.

http://dyslexiaaction.org.uk/

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Ok….slightly freaked out that WordPress.com has changed its format since I was in last…where have all my widgets and stuff gone??? I suppose I will find them in due course…

(ETA – never mind…found them…)

Meanwhile, apologies for not updating my blog in over 2 weeks – I have been working on the concept for another book. This one is going to take some time if I want to get it right – and I DO. I’ve got such a great idea, and I’m so excited about it, but it has to be perfect or nothing at all.

And at the same time I am starting to re-write the novel I wrote for Nanowrimo – initially I was just going to concentrate on this new idea I have, but there are times when the new idea part of my brain has a temporary shut down, so its nice to work on something that I can use a different part of my brain for.

Its all good.

One thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is what to do with these books when I have finished? Self-publish or traditional route?? There are lots of authors out there with conflicting views and experiences. Take for example Chuck Wendig, one of my writing heroes (my spell checker tells me heroes has an ‘e’ in it…not heros but heroes…kind of like potatoes?). Chuck has written a whole blog post on the publishing route today, and advises:

“You should try the traditional route first.”

His reasons? Well, he has used both the traditional route AND the self-pub route, and though both are earning him money, it’s the book he had published via the traditional route that has given him the most success, the most money, the most exposure – and something about a ride on a flaming unicorn dispensing food to the hungry. He may have made that last bit up…. (If you click on that quote above, you can see the whole post).

In contrast, Joanna Penn has had much success with self-publishing, and has much advice and information (plus various online courses) to offer on this route.

I change my mind with the wind. Every new piece of information I read on the subject of publishing has different advice and convincing ideas. Every road is different it would seem – every writers journey is unique, and in the end all we can do is try and see what works for us.

At present I am thinking I will try and self-publish my nanowrimo novel and go for the traditional route with my new one. We’ll see what happens.

I have to actually WRITE them first, right???

Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

Toxic

Happy New Year!!! Here’s to a fresh new year of creativity and stories! Looking forward to reading and writing, and sharing stories and ideas with all the other awesome writers on the internet.

This piece was written for Words on Wednesdays in The Write Practice. Today’s word was Toxic. I really enjoyed writing it – maybe I can do something with these characters sometime?

 

As Thomas opened the huge wooden door to the stone walled chamber, she was the first thing he saw.

Vivienne – beautiful, bewitching, toxic. He had to lean against the door frame for a moment to steady himself.

She lay on her side across the chaise-longue in front of the fire, in a black and red corset and thigh length boots, with her long curtain of sleek shiny black hair tumbling down her shoulders.  She broke into a seductive smile, and Thomas was sure he could hear her purring.

“I knew you would come,” she said, her voice slithering towards him and tickling his ears. It was intoxicating.

Thomas cleared his throat. “Don’t imagine I’m falling for this, Vivienne.” He told her, in what he hoped was a strong unwavering voice, “You are pure poison. Toxic. If I touched you, I would burn in hell.”

Vivienne giggled “Oh come now! Let’s be friends!”. She rolled smoothly onto her back, lifting one long, shapely leg and hooking it over the back of the chaise. She lifted her hips a little, the sight of which almost caused him to stop breathing. It would be so easy to give in and lose himself in lust, but he had come here for a purpose, and he must not fail.

He took the dagger from his belt and marched purposefully towards her. He was breathing hard, his heart racing at the thought of what he must do. Her intoxicating scent hit his nostrils and surged into his lungs, and it took every last scrap of will power he had to hold the dagger above her chest.

“Must….stab….” he gasped.

But his senses were overpowered. He could hold back no longer. His dagger dropped to the floor, and he fell into her embrace, into the burning fire and poison of this evil, toxic witch. With one move, she flipped him over onto his back and moved on top of him, a ritualistic dance.

Annabelle tutted. She had watched the whole thing from behind the door.

“If you want something doing properly…” she muttered to herself, as she entered unseen into the room. Picking up the discarded dagger, she lifted it with both hands and plunged it into Vivienne’s back.

There was a split second of silence and stillness, as if the world had stopped for a moment.

Finally, Vivienne exploded with a roaring scream, filling the room briefly with hot red smoke and then vanishing with a noise that sounded like a hundred souls being sucked into a void.

Thomas fell to the floor, wide eyed and gasping. He looked at the chaise where he had been locked in Vivienne’s clutches moments before.

“Thanks,” he said, looking sheepishly up at his friend.

“Think nothing of it,” said Annabelle, curtly. She turned and walked out of the room.

 

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