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A heart-touching reflection on World Suicide Day from Sarah.

Hope Whispers

Today is world suicide prevention day. It’s a day when we’re encouraged to talk about an issue that is too often shrouded in secrecy and shame. It’s a day to acknowledge that it’s okay to be not okay. And to speak words of hope into the darkness of pain.

Perhaps this year we have talked more about suicide than most. This year we have had the controversial series ’13 Reasons Why’ attempting to throw a spot light on suicide. Suicide has made the headlines when celebrities including Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell lost their battles. And last month the rapper Logic gave a moving performance of a song named after the US suicide prevention hotline, and was joined on the stage by dozens of survivors of suicide.

But as I sat down to write this I wonder whether this kind of publicity is really making a difference on the ground…

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My bike and M.E – am I a cheat, a fraud or reckless?!

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An insight into the cost of doing something you love, when living with ME.

Sarah at Saje

I don’t think I’m unusual in wanting to celebrate the good things in life. I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring to showcase the things I can do on social media rather than what I can’t. Tuesday 29th August 2017 was a perfect example. It was our silver wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a second honeymoon earlier in the summer, but we wanted to mark our actual day with the family and doing something significant.

I guess a bike ride in the Peak District wouldn’t be most people’s way of celebrating 25 years of marriage! However, my husband and I always enjoyed the outdoors, sport and physical exercise. Most of our recreational time together would always involve one of these by choice – until that choice was removed when I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). It’s 4 years since I had my full relapse, and by listening carefully to…

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Manuscript critique from agent Anna Hogarty

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Authors for Grenfell Tower: An Online Auction

Madeleine Milburn Company Shoot by Libi Pedder084

ITEM: Manuscript critique from agent Anna Hogarty

DETAILS: Literary agent Anna Hogarty will give an editorial critique of the first 10,000 words of your manuscript by email.

BIO: Anna Hogarty is a literary agent and in-house editor for the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Previously, she worked as an editor in publishing. She represents writers of adult fiction and non-fiction as well as YA and crossover stories. She also teaches yoga, and has an interest in wellness, meditation and mindfulness books.

WHO CAN BID: Worldwide

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My Radiant Friend

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On Thursday of last week, the news I and countless others had been waiting to hear, dreading to hear, came through. A woman we had come to know and love had finally lost her eight year battle with breast cancer. Some had known Jan a short time, others a lifetime. For me, it was thirty six years, earthly years that took only the blink of an eye to pass. Since Thursday, I have looked though the mementoes of friendship collected over the decades. As a thank you for being her bridesmaid when she married the love of her life, Rob, Jan gave me a small crystal swan, which has travelled with me for over thirty years, through all the changing scenes of my life, and I have always placed it where I can see it. These past few days, it has been right in front of me when I have sought solitude, catching the sunlight and throwing rainbows round the room as I have wept and cried out with the agony of loss, as I have replayed memories like a favourite film I haven’t watched for far too long. And as the swan refracts the sunlight, I am again reminded of the Jan the world has lost, a woman who became more radiant with each year.

The first time I met Jan, I was dazzled by the sparkling young woman who fizzed withA sparkling young woman love for others and welcomed me into her heart and life with arms that never grew tired of gathering, never failed to be full of love. As I sit today, once again wondering how I could begin to write a tribute to this remarkable woman – where can I start? – the sunlight hits my little swan and I know: Jan has left this world a lighter place because of her life.

Rob’s calling as an Officer in the British army meant that they led a somewhat nomadic existence: at one point they had nineteen house moves in twenty years. That sort of nomadic life resulted in hundreds (and hundreds) of lives that crossed Jan’s and witnessed her radiance: not for Jan the life of a lamp in the corner of a carefully co-ordinated room, but the life of a beacon on a hill, one that illuminated a path for the lost, the lonely, the heartbroken, the simply broken. The lamp of Jan’s life was not a perfect Jan and Rob Sunday 9th April 2017vessel, over the years it was knocked and dropped and bashed. The years she learned to wait, to lay aside personal ambitions, the years of struggles and pressures she couldn’t skirt, the final years of failing health and the prospect of missing the joys so many get to experience – retirement, grandchildren – have been the very means by which she discovered her greatest treasure: the goodness of God, which springs from His love that endures forever.

We spoke several times over the past few months about that goodness, laid out like a feast, the grandest of picnics, right in face of the final enemy, death. The goodness of God that sends fear fleeing back into the shadows of the valley. The goodness of God that brings peace and rest when our hearts would have us despair. The cracks and fissures and dents that shaped Jan’s life created a lamp so intricate, so beautiful that there was little left of any hard veneer that would limit the light it radiated: there was nowhere for the light that filled Jan’s life to go other than to spill out into the world from the depth of her surrendered soul. And now, dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, she stands before the throne of the heavenly father she adores, the days of knocks and cracks behind her because: ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever … And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city and the Lamb is its light.’ (Revelation 21 verses 2 and 23)

There are things in life, circumstances, choices, people, that knock us and wound us and break us. And there are people in life who stand with us, who give us their arms and hearts and help remould us. Jan was one of my shaping-people: she was light and salt and a channel of God’s grace and love. Jan taught me that there is a love, there is a grace that has no limits, no depths, no sides, no heights that can ever be scaled, and she walked in the mystery of the goodness of God in the face of her enemies, for her the cancer that A friendship that spanned decadesfinally destroyed her body. I am ever grateful that I had the privilege of knowing this radiant woman.

Jan in her own words:  

29 June 2016 ‘…My journey of surrender is not one of believing that somehow the bad things that happen are ok, but that in the midst of the bad things I am ok, because God can take care of my heart and provide all I need to be at peace and to live a godly life, and also knowing that God is doing all he can, working for the good to surface. Sometimes the good is so amazing that we think God wanted the bad to happen, but no – it is his amazing surrendered self to winning us back that is his work. He is utterly, utterly good …’

New Year’s Eve 2016: ‘… Hope means the confident expectation of goodness and I believe in hope for us both this coming year. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives …’

Rest – Matt Maher

The Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize

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Joan Aiken

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Could You write a classic children’s book that would be in print fifty years from now?

When Joan Aiken was writing The Wolves of Willoughby Chase in 1960, she was also travelling up to London every day for her ‘day job’ on Argosy magazine, which paid the mortgage and fed the family. As the daughter of an impoverished poet, and step-daughter to another well known but equally impecunious author, she had no illusions about the difficulties of a writer’s life.  But now, having survived the years of fantastic difficulties ( read more here!) that beset the publication of this award winning novel, she was absolutely determined to continue in her chosen profession.

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Joan Aiken had decided to be a writer at the age of five, and so after her first success with ‘Wolves‘ she continued unstoppably for the next fifty years – producing over 100 books in her…

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The Most Cherished @ #CBF2016

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A heart-touching post that reminds me how powerful stories are, how important it is to pass them on.

Demogorgon's Fiction

This year, my dearest treasure is an anthology of stories, poems, essays, and the making of poems.

Its story is one that I am both ashamed and thrilled to tell. Before I chose it for this post, I searched thoroughly for a replacement. But there was none.

Sometime in February 2011, I felt low. Too low. The lowest I have ever felt. So I thought I could buy some pills.

In the morning, I went around town buying them from different shops till I had 280 of them. Then I bought 500ml of water and made my way to Ngong Hills, into the forests and bushes there. I wanted to just lie down and forget the world for good.

But before I could do that, I, somehow, remembered my books and a fierce sense of jealousy gripped me. I said, “Who’s going to have those books?” I couldn’t remember one…

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Editing Angst

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I do a lot of editing as I write, some authors leave it until they have a completed first draft. Whatever your editing looks like, Mary Cathleen Clark expresses how it feels to be a word-murderer …

Southern Highways and Byways


I’m in the final stage of editing my manuscript for publication, which means I’ve been residing for a while in that special place in hell reserved for writers. See me over there? I’m tucked away behind the third brimstone pit on your left, smoldering notes scattered about me, and laptop clutched in my sweaty hands.

I need a break. I need inspiration. So it’s time to pause for a moment and remember why, of my own free will, I chose to be in Writers Hell.

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No truer words have ever been spoken. Any writer who thinks her/his first draft is ready to make its grand appearance before the reading public is delusional. Maybe the twentieth draft. Maybe.

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I butchered my story, cutting out description, exposition, dialogue, and backstory until I stripped its skeleton of all flesh. Lord, it looks so damned bare now. Does anyone have a spare jacket?

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I argued with myself–did I…

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