Friday, 7 July 2017

Lydia Writes: Cover Reveal and Updates!


To my lovely readers, old and new.


I am happy to announce that I am finally setting a date of Episode releases on Radish Fiction for His To Keep!

Date:
SATURDAY 22nd JULY 2017!

Put that in your calendars!

Those who follow me will know I have been focusing on editing this manuscript for its release on Radish Fiction for some time. Unfortunately, I had to postpone because of pregnancy and life stuff, but it’s time!


So, without further ado, I bring you the new cover & blurb.


Blurb:

Sinners will burn.

Ava’s life is thrown upside down when she’s taken away from the light and thrown into darkness. She’s the angel Aaron has wanted for so long and he will stop at nothing to keep her in his chains. His for all eternity.

She’s forced to live locked in a room with a boy who guards her, with a twisted family who obeys their one master, and in a house from hell itself. Ava is quick to learn that the only way to get her freedom back is to obey the rules Aaron wants her to obey. But her innocence is about to be destroyed when sinister happenings and secrets come to light, threatening the hope she has grasped so tightly onto.

Then there’s Callum; the boy with demons pouring out of his soul and on the brink of darkness from the years of terrible abuse he has suffered. 

When their hearts start to accidentally fall, sacrifices must be made, and Ava must figure out what she wants most. Freedom, or him. And he must choose what he needs most. Death, or her.  

READ ONLY ON...


Ugh. Callum and Ava vibes *.* 



Also, I just want to take the time to clear up a few things before this release! Just to avoid confusion.

-I will not be sharing the full edited manuscript on Wattpad, just the first three chapters. However, you can read the unedited first draft on Wattpad for free, here. (Bearing in mind that it’s a VERY rough draft!)

-His To Keep Episodes will be under the premium model on Radish. The first three episodes (chapters) are free, but you will have to purchase ‘radish coins’ to continue reading.

-I am aware that not everyone can access Radish, but please don’t worry! My main goal is to eventually publish as an e-book format on Amazon Kindle in the future.

-Episodes (chapters) will release weekly, (every Saturday), however, there will be a small ‘break’ period. (Like when TV series have mid-seasonal breaks). This will be because I have taken maternity leave to be with my new baby. But rest assure, as soon as it ends, I will be back and updates will resume until the book is complete!

Hope this helps and I hope you’re all as excited as I am for the release!


L


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Lydia Parents: My son, Aiden


I have a son called Aiden.

I remember when he was born like it was yesterday. When I held him in my arms for the first time. I was so overwhelmed, all I could do was stare at him. I couldn’t believe I made such a beautiful little boy. That he came from me.

Watching him grow everyday was a blessing. Everything he did was special. His first smile, his first laugh… As he grew, a little personality began to shine through, one only he could have. Until Aiden came into my life, I didn’t know what love truly was. 


I used to get these emails; baby milestone ones. The ones that told you what your child should be doing every week. I read them and realised one day that Aiden wasn’t doing the things they were saying. While crawling and walking eventually came, he wasn’t talking. Babbling, sure, but no words. On Facebook, friends would post pictures or videos of their babies—younger than Aiden—chatting away. Doing things Aiden wouldn’t do.

I didn’t like comparing him to other children. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. Was I not parenting him properly? He did watch a lot of Mickey Mouse… Maybe I should give him more attention. Do more. Be more.

But Aiden wasn’t interested in me. He was happy being in his own world and doing things his way. I stopped thinking about it for a little while. I didn’t want to be stressed over it. He was happy, and whatever little quirks he started to develop, I loved them and him regardless.

When Aiden was two and a half we moved to Ireland. Once we settled down, I decided to take him to the doctor. He still wasn’t talking and I knew I needed to find out why.


This started an extremely long process of hospital appointments and assessments. Aiden wasn’t at the stage he was supposed to be for his age. Not just a speech delay, but development and learning, too.

I will always remember the day the word Autism was mentioned. I was sitting in a room with two doctors. They were firing questions at me and I was trying to answer as honestly as I could. Autism, they said. He’s showing signs of Autism.

Oh.

After I left that room I burst into tears. Autism was stopping my baby from communicating with me. I’d heard of it, but didn’t know much about it. When I got home, I researched it online. A ‘hidden’ disability. A mental condition that causes difficulty in communication. Life-long. Can’t be cured, but can be helped with therapy. Makes it hard for people to form relationships. Impacts their ability to make sense of the world around them.

Oh again.

The more I learned about autism, the more I could see aspects of it in Aiden. Through the initial shock, I knew in my heart and soul this was it. This was the answer and accepting it was the first step. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t want to accept it at first. What mother does? I thought that he would be okay. It was just something he would grow out of…

But I needed to get realistic. As other factors were being cancelled out, I knew I had to start accepting it. Because I needed to for him. He needed someone in his life who understands him completely—to be his voice. It was time to start looking at the world through his eyes and not mine.

And what a beautiful world it is.

 It’s taken me so long to write this, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was out of protectiveness of him, or maybe because I knew I had a lot to learn before I could talk about it properly. But I’ve gotten to the stage where I want to talk about it. I want people to understand too. 

Once I surpassed the denial and grieving stages, I was surprised by how ready I was. My eyes and mind were wide open, and I quickly learned Aiden’s world is a wonderful, magical place. 


He’s now four years old and still non-verbal.

He's come on so much since the first time I told the doctor he wasn’t talking. He continues to surprise me every day by the things he does. However small they are, it’s big to us. I'm learning as he is learning. His journey is also my journey. I will never lose hope that he will one day have a speech breakthrough. I’ve accepted that he may never call me mama. That doesn’t matter. Just being his mum is enough for me.

This month, he will be officially diagnosed as a child with Autism by a psychologist and I’m happy about it. I know that sounds strange, but after such a long process, I finally feel like I can breathe. Getting that piece of paper means I will have an official answer and can take the next steps to ensure his life is as best it can be for him.

When some people see Aiden, they don’t know how to be around him. They see he's 'different' and so they act different. At first it upset me, but not anymore. I see a boy who is having the time of his life and doesn’t have time for people who aren’t on his level. So maybe get on it, because you might be surprised by how great it is. 

Aiden is like any other little boy. Being autistic doesn’t define who he is as a person. You see, like all children, he loves playing too. He’s funny, loving and affectionate. He's well-behaved, loves the outdoors, slides and bubbles. Mickey Mouse is still his favourite cartoon, and he could sit for hours watching Formula 1 racing.

I’m not saying I don’t have bad days. I’m not saying there aren’t days where I feel lost, lonely and miles away from other parents. Days where I feel completely hopeless as a mother and stressed to the max. Days where I cry because I’m anxious about his future. That I will fail him…

I’m learning to take each day as it comes. I don’t know what the future will bring or what life Aiden will grow to have. But whatever it is, wherever we are, I’ll be there for him and with him. My family will be there for him. We’ll try our best to make sure he has everything he needs, no matter what.

What a wonderful adventure it will be. 

I’m a mother to a child with autism and I couldn’t be prouder.



L


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Lydia Parents: What's in my Hospital Bag




Hey everyone! Sorry about the lack of posts lately.

Let's just say third trimester of pregnancy hasn’t been very pleasant. I wasn’t feeling great for ages and put it down to lack of sleep because the baby is a nutter very active. Turns out I was anaemic and had an infection. I needed to go on a course of antibiotics, rest more and increase my intake of vitamins and iron-enriched foods. Basically, I needed to take a breather.

But, I’m since feeling better and baby is fine! 

I’ve been getting so many messages lately asking about baby things. When I started this blog, I did want to keep it open to posts like this, but not go overboard with it. But you’ve asked, so I shall deliver. If this helps anyone in any way, then it’ll be worth it.

My due date is fast approaching and I’ve less than a month to go before the baby arrives. He could come at any time now. One of the questions I got asked was what’s in my hospital bag. So, I’ll share via a blog post!

(Warning: Before we start I’m a mommy crank. My bag is a crank bag, okay? I’m obsessed with being prepared.)

Confession Time.


I completely forgot about my hospital bag. I know. It didn’t cross my mind until I hit week 33 and realised I should start thinking about packing it. If you’re on a budget, this can be a daunting task, but I found you don’t need to break the bank and still get everything you need.

I started by creating a list of things I needed first. Trust me, this is a lifesaver. I had to refresh my memory by researching online first as I don't remember from when I had Aiden. You can online shop for your things (it’s probably better if you do), but that wasn’t an option for me due to where I live.

Once I had my list compiled, I went shopping. 

I HATED this part, and you will probably too. Yes, buying yourself things is lovely (especially if you’ve spent the last few months buying for a baby and forgot about yourself). But there’s nothing fun about shopping at 35 weeks pregnant! I was stressed, the baby was doing backflips and I needed to pee all the time. I was positive I looked like a tramp walking around aisles with a pen poking out of my mouth and a strict A4 shopping list. Not to mention, bypassing all the nice clothes you can’t fit into is so depressing...

I suggest trying to do this a little sooner than I did. 



Realistically, you’re going to need two bags for the hospital. For your main one, think slightly bigger than a carry-on, and for the second, a beach bag will do the trick. I used a suitcase that I already had, nothing fancy, and brought the beach bag for about £10.

Tip: For crank-style clean packing, get some labelled clear food bags that you can seal and write on. I’ll explain why in a bit.

Another Tip: Double check the hospital you’re going to doesn’t have a bag restriction. I know some hospitals have limitations due to space. Also, leave things like handbags and purses at home.

Once you have your bag situation sorted, start packing! 





2 x Nightdresses for labour.

I’m not a nightie girl, but I packed two for the labour ward. Something light and comes to the knee. Why two? Just incase something happens to the other. (For instance, you hurl over one.) Having a button opening on the front will be easy for breastfeeding and great access if you’re wanting to do that precious skin to skin contact when baby is born. 

Tip: Food bags are a great way of creating order in your bag. There's nothing worse than a chaotic bag you can't find anything in. Using them is a good way for separating items, keeping things clean and fresh, and also if your birthing partner needs to get you/baby something, he/she will know where to look!  




3 x Pyjamas


I packed three pairs of pyjamas for after the birth. Unless it’s winter, I’d stay clear of the thick fleecy kind of pyjamas. They also say stick to darker colours, but with it being the summer, there weren’t any when I was shopping. But anything loose fitting will be comfortable enough. I packed three pairs in hopes that I won’t be in the hospital for long afterward, but I do have an extra bag prepared that I’ll leave in the car if I have to stay longer for whatever reason. 

(I was in the hospital with Aiden for eight days! Absolute torture.)



Knickers/Socks/Nursing Bras.

This is down to personal preference and comfort. I don’t like going anywhere without lots of knickers. It’s like a fear of mine to run out of them. I’ve packed loads of both knickers and socks. I don’t even think there should be a limit on them. Go wild, I say. I even have extra in my spare bag too. Disposable underwear doesn’t work for me and I won’t mind throwing these away because they were cheap. Also, I’m breastfeeding, so I’m bringing two nursing bras with me. I’ve a spare two in the other bag. If you’re not breastfeeding, do bring a comfortable bra still. You’ll be leaking and you’ll be thankful for the support.





 Slippers and Dressing Gown

They say bring a ‘light’ dressing gown, but I’m bringing my usual big, fleecy one I've had for ages. I’m not a fan of the hospital. I had a terrible time with Aiden being in the ward for so long after the birth, so you’re going to need all the comfort you can get. I’m also bringing a pair of slippers. They also say bring flip flops for the shower, but that’s up to you.




Toiletries

Again, personal preference on which products you want to bring and use. In general, I'm bringing shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo (if you don't want to wash your hair), face wipes, cellular face sponges, razor, toothbrush, lip balm, moisturizer, a roll on deodorant and a small hairbrush. (I'm missing toothpaste from the pic.)
 Pennies/Primark is great for travel-sized products. They also have a huge selection on cute toiletry bags. Total personal preference again, you may want to bring makeup. This isn't for anybody's benefit but yours. Personally, I’m not too fussed, but I did get Garnier’s BB cream and will be bringing some blusher and maybe an eyebrow pencil so I don’t look like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.



Maternity/Breast Pads


Oh look, our best friends for the next few weeks. Ugh. I packed two packs of Maternity pads and a bag of breast pads. Again, keep extra handy in a spare bag.





6x baby vests

Again, I used food bags on all the baby’s things to keep them separate from mine. I also washed all my baby clothes in non-bio washing products before packing them. It's up to you whether or not you want to, but it really is worth washing them. Not only do they smell amazing, you don't know what chemicals they were manufactured in. The bags are also a great way of keeping them clean and fresh.



6 x baby gro’s

I packed more ‘newborn’ clothes this time round, as the doctors have been telling me this baby won’t be as big as Aiden was. I do remember just packing 0-3 sizes for Aiden (He was such a long baby). So just be careful when you’re packing that you have a variety of sizes! 



Baby’s 1st outfit.
  
This was the best part of packing my bag. Choosing babies first outfit. I changed my mind about five times, but decided to go with a very neutral first outfit. Make sure you label this properly as you won’t be able to get it yourself. Someone will be dressing baby for you, so they’ll need to know. You will need a baby gro, vest, hat, scratch mits and a nappy. 


6 x Bibs
2 x Hats

2 x Scratch Mits


2 x baby blankets


I packed one cellular and one fleecy. The white one is brilliant for swaddling and the other is for extra warmth and comfort. I’ve packed spare too!




Beach Bag

I’ve packed two black towels, a baby towel, nappies, cotton wool and a packet of water baby wipes. When I’m due to go to the hospital, I’ll also throw in a notepad & pen (to keep track of things), ready-made cartons of baby milk (just in case I can’t breastfeed), and a sterilized bottle and pacifier.

So, that's basically it for my hospital bag! You don't have to be as crank. I just have issues. :P Hope you enjoyed anyway.




Saturday, 3 June 2017

Lydia Parents: A Weekend Away



So, we took this little trip away recently for a communion. It was a weekend trip to the west of Ireland and we stayed overnight at a lodge. 


(Aiden looked super in his grey jacket (H&M), converse top (TKMax) black jeans (Next) and a pair of grey Nike trainers.)

It was one of those trips that you weren’t expecting to go well, but actually turned out so good. The place we booked was booked on a whim. Places were going fast and needed to make sure we had a place to stay. I basically booked the first place I came across. It was either that or we’d be facing a three hour journey there and back on the same day.

We started our journey at seven in the morning. It was raining, a lot (typical Irish weather), and we arrived just as mass was beginning. Aiden was good, but started to get upset and restless half way through. I took him outside for a little while to get some fresh air and a drink. He was fine after, so we went back inside.

After church we went to check into the lodge to drop off our bags and were surprised by how nice it was. We basically had our own apartment with separate rooms, our own miniature kitchen and an en-suite. The people running it were lovely and told us to help ourselves to anything we wanted.


 It was Aiden’s first stay in a hotel and I loved seeing how excited he was exploring his new surroundings. After dropping off our bags, we went for a meal with the family to celebrate the nephew making his communion. We had a three course meal and then Aiden had a blast playing with his cousins.

Unfortunately, when I got back to the hotel, I vomited. Trying to squeeze a three course meal into the same area as your very active baby doesn’t quite work out. 


The next morning, we had breakfast and decided to go for a walk along the beach after. We were heading back the same day, so we wanted to get as much fresh air and relaxing in as possible before the journey. The scenery was stunning, despite the overcast clouds. After the beach, we went to a cute little market and went to say goodbye to the family.


Now for the reason for this post. I didn’t actually realise how much I needed this weekend trip away. Everything has been hectic. My head has been full to the brim of anxious thoughts over things that need to be done before the baby arrives. I actually forgot what it was like to just take a breather and relax. And that’s what we did. We took a deep breath, we relaxed and it felt amazing. It put things back into perspective; that life is to be lived too.



So, a note to my future self:
Take more weekend trips away with your family. You’ll feel better.

Pinky promise.

L 


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Lydia Talks: Self-Doubt


Here’s the thing about self-doubt.

It blows. Really.

At some point in life, whether that be occasionally or all the time, you will doubt yourself. It can be about anything and it can feel like you’re standing under this really big and dark cloud with no light to be seen for miles and miles. It’s a soul sucker. It sucks you dry of everything, leaving you an insecure mess.

And self-doubt and writing seem to go hand in hand.

Inner-critic, or as I like to call it an inner-bitch, is harsh. Really harsh. Now, I’m all about self-love and positivity, but there are times you can give yourself so much self-hate it can make you feel deflated and depressed.

The reality of it is you’re putting yourself down over stuff that’s just in your head.
Nearly every author I know has gone, or is going, through this. It’s apparently normal, but at the same time it doesn’t feel normal. It even feels like self-inflicted abuse at times.

Why can’t I just be positive? Why can’t I enjoy what I’m doing? Why can’t I be happy with anything I write?

Why, why why?

Negativity hinders progress. Fear stops you from achieving goals.

I’ll write something, and after I read it back, I’ll fall into despair because I think it sucks. I’ll then start my own hate campaign and tell myself that I’m not good enough. That I’m never going to be an author if I keep this shit up. That I’m never going to make it.

Just STOP.

I’m putting heaps of pressure and stress on myself for nothing. All this self-doubt and hate is doing the opposite of what it’s yelling at me to do. Write better! Try harder! Do More! Yet I’m clamming up under the pressure.

I don’t like dwelling on the past, but I’ve picked up more broken pieces in my life than I’ve mended. So for me, it’s like I expect to keep picking up these broken pieces and this inner critic I have is like its damn cheerleader. It’s not encouraging and it’s not helping.

The problem is we can’t get rid of it.

I’ve realised there’s very little defeating self-doubt. It’s an inescapable thing. Hello writers block. Unless you’re a super positive person twenty-four-seven (alien), you’re going to go through episodes of self-doubt and uncertainty.

Why? That’s life.

I think we need to chill the f*ck out and cut ourselves some slack. Writing is hard. It’s hard and time consuming, but we do it because we love it. Life’s tough enough without us being shitty to ourselves as well.

Just because Maggie Brownie Brown has released several books in a year while you’re still working on your first six years later, doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to be a writer or that you’re not going to make it.

I’ve found it best to approach the whole writing thing with indifference. So what if I’ve got about five-thousand mistakes. So what if my grammar sucks. So what if my plot has holes. So what if my characters are planks. So what if I’m not like Maggie Brownie Brown.

SO WHAT.

I’ll be Lydia and I’ll do it my way.

Sure, I’ll self-doubt myself and I’ll do it some more, but I think the key is to not give up. Maybe one day it will pay off, and if not, at least you’re doing something you love.


L


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Lydia Writes: Teaser Tuesday's




Excerpt from His To Keep. Draft 3.0



"I make my way upstairs to my bedroom. It’s a simple room. A room that lacks personality because it’s occupier doesn’t have one.
There’s a single bed with floral sheets, a wardrobe and a desk. The only decoration I have on the yellow walls is a wooden crucifix Gran forced me to put up. A reminder that God is always watching.
I make my way over to my desk and open the lid of my laptop. I hear the unfamiliar sound of Facebook Messenger ping and feel my forehead crease as I go to read.

Today, 17:06pm
Thank you for showing me around today, Ava.

            Heat seeps through me. All I can do is sit very still and stare at the screen, reading the message over and over again.
This morning I was called to the office. I had just sat down in class when my name sounded with a crackle from the speakers. I never got called to the office, so I nearly had a breakdown of the thought that maybe I was in trouble.
            I wasn’t in trouble.
Instead, I was to show a new pupil around school for the day. If I thought that was bad, when a boy stepped out of the principal’s office, I wanted the floor to swallow me. He was good looking. A slight tan to his skin, brown eyes and hair a mound of soft brown curls. He was much taller than me and was stood with his hands in his pockets in a casual, relaxed way.
Then, he smiled at me. It was just a normal smile and it was warm. It reminded me of Grandpa. 
Hey,” he greeted. “I’m Adam.”
A-Ava.” We shook hands and he smiled even wider when I blushed, not in cocky way, but in a kind way. Like maybe I could trust him.
I was forced to spend the day showing him around school. I was nervous around him and barely spoke. He filled the silence with chatter, talking with ease and confidence, even to people who asked who he was in the corridors between classes. I could tell they were impressed and that was going to be instantly popular.
I even expected him to stray after a while, but he didn’t. He stayed by my side all day. As I showed him the grounds, he told me it sucked to move to a new school senior year. I felt sorry for him. I’d been in this school all my life and still felt uncomfortable, so I couldn't imagine how he must feel to start again so late.
He told me his mom got depression after she miscarried his little sister. His dad thought a change of scenery might help her recover, so he got new job and they all moved from the city into a house that was a few blocks from mine.
He told me he was finding the transition hard because Little Willow was in the middle of nowhere. It’s true, but it’s better than other towns around. It has its own shopping mall, a cinema, and just recently opened a McDonald's a year ago. But I understood—other than the crappy little shops, it’s mostly surrounded by hills and forests.
A far cry from a city.
I was surprised by his openness and found myself telling him I’d lived in a city before too. That I found it strange moving here at first. He gave me a sympathetic smile and I felt emotion clog up my throat.
I was talking to someone. Actually talking.
I hadn’t in so long and it felt good. Normal. It didn’t seem to matter that he was a guy and I was forbidden to talk to him. It didn’t seem to matter when words flowed easily and the loneliness I had inside of me started to disappear.
Adam seemed nice and not like most boys in school. He talked about all kinds of things; like his favourite music and movies. He was easy-going and his jokes made me laugh.
It was nice.
It was nice to feel that again.

Today at 17:15pm
You’re welcome.

I hit send chewing on my fingernail. My heart beats faster when I see the speech bubble appear beneath. He’s typing something back. Maybe I shouldn’t have replied…
I glance at my bedroom door, terrified in case Gran comes upstairs. But she’s old and doesn’t understand technology. She doesn’t understand that I have access to the internet and have virtual window to a world she’s closed off to me.
It’s my secret. My only sin.

Today, 17:17pm
Maybe you could show me around town tomorrow after school? I heard there's a place that does awesome milkshakes.

He’s talking about Joe’s, a milkshake bar on Main Street. Immediately, I start to panic. He wants me to show him around town? Have milkshake?
My first thought is why. I barely said anything to him today and he made loads of friends by the time the day was finished. Friends that would be better and more fun at showing him around than me.
I breathe out slowly.
Gran will never allow this and then Adam will know the truth. He will see how pathetic I really am. Someone who is ruled and not allowed to do anything but breathe through misery.

Today, 17:30pm
I can't. I’m sorry.

I close the lid of my laptop before I see his reply. I wrap my arms around my body as guilt unfurls inside of me. To try and escape it, I lay down on my bed and push my face into my pillow. I want to scream, but I can’t even do that.
If God is truly watching me like Gran says he is, is he happy now? "


HIS TO KEEP
Coming Soon...