2015 was a year of real highs and lows for me, and although it was often rewarding I have to admit I’m sort of pleased to see the back of it. From a writing point of view it was very successful – I released Broken Chords (Love in London #2) to some great reviews, and also saw the digital edition of Fix You go from strength to strength in the UK, reaching a high of #2 in the iBooks charts and #20 in the Amazon charts.
Somehow I even managed to write 2 more books, both of which are awaiting publication dates. Canada Square is #3 in the Love in London series, and tells the story of Amy, a student who interns in a big city partnership, and Callum, her boss. My beta readers think that this could be the best book in the series so far, and I hope that you’ll think the same! Release date for this should be coming soon.
In other news, I’ve started a new secret project, a 4 book series that I hope to update you on soon. I had a lot of fun planning these stories, and can’t wait to unleash them on the world.
From a personal point of view 2015 was challenging. At the end of 2014 my daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis, and this year we’ve spent a lot of time at hospital appointments with her, culminating in a spinal fusion operation in December. Though she faced many challenges this year, I’m delighted to say she’s recovering in leaps and bounds while keeping a smile on her face, and making sure her school work is done. To say I’m a proud mum would be an understatement.
Fortunately I also had lots of lovely things happen to me in 2015. I attended 3 signings in the UK and managed to meet lots of wonderful readers and bloggers, and also had some success abroad, selling the rights to Fix You to Germany and Italy, with more announcements to come. Coming Down was also translated to Portugese and released in Brazil. Fix You will be released in paperback in the UK on 4th February 2016, and will have a gorgeous new cover. I can’t wait to share it with you!
In 2016 I plan to spend a lot of time writing and also with my now-recovering family. I hope to have at least a couple of new releases to share with you, as well as meet many of you at the signings and events I’ll be attending this year. Remember, if you want to be the first to hear about new releases, make sure you sign up for my newsletter. I often have exclusive sales news and competitions solely for my subscribers there.
In the meantime, I hope that 2016 treats you kindly, and that you managed to grab some rest and recovery during the holiday period.
So this post is going to be a bit different to my others. Not only because it is about something other than books, but because it’s personal and really tells the story of where I am today. And it started on a vacation last summer, when we went on holiday with friends to Spain with our families.
At that time my daughter was 14. She’s a beautiful girl–of course any mother thinks that about their child–but in this case it’s true 😉 She’s also becoming a woman, where once she was up and down she’s developed curves, and in her small bikini it became apparent just how strong some of those curves were.
“Is it me or is one of her hips curvier than the other?” I asked my husband, my friend, even my daughter. It was my daughter who told me that her hip had been like that for a while, and that she’d mentioned it to me before. I have no recollection of her mentioning it, although later down the line I truly wished I had.
A couple of weeks later, having returned from our holiday, I took her to our family doctor. She examined her, making her bend over, lean to the left and to the right and immediately sent her for x-rays. Of course we live in the UK, so immediately was actually two weeks later, but at the time we were unconcerned.
That lack of concern only lasted a few days, right until we went back to the doctor. That’s when the diagnosis of Scoliosis was given. For those who don’t know what Scoliosis is, it’s a curve in the spine. It can come in many forms; c-shape, s-shape, it can be a small bend or a large one.
I’d heard of Scoliosis before, and even this is down to my bookworm ways. Back when I was a teenager myself I was a Judy Blume freak, and remembered her book ‘Deenie’ which heart wrenchingly portrayed the journey the protagonist took from learning she had scoliosis to having to wear a disfiguring brace during her teenage years.
Before the appointment I did some research. The best case scenario was being monitored–this would mean that the curve wasn’t too big and that it would hopefully get no bigger. After that the options were bracing (for those who were still growing) which wouldn’t make the curve get any better, but also would ensure it didn’t get any worse.
And for those who had curves of 50% or more–open back surgery was really the only remedy.
Of course we hoped for monitoring.
The night before her specialist appointment we stayed in a hotel near Cambridge. The appointment was at Addenbrooke’s, a university hospital, commonly known as one of the best centres for scoliosis in the country. So we got up nice and early on the day and made our way through the busy streets of the city.
Once we’d checked in, our first stop was the x-ray department. Expecting to be waiting for a while, I sent my husband to get us both a coffee. While he was gone, we were called into the x-ray room, and I stood behind the screens and watched the x-ray photo slowly upload onto the computer. This is what I saw:
X-ray showing her 45 degree curve
I was shocked. Not only was it glaringly curved, I could tell it was worst than the last x-ray. Her s-shaped spine was getting worse.
An hour later we were sitting with the specialist, who told us that back surgery was really the only option. We listened as he explained this would involve around a 5 hour operation followed by a night in intensive care, a week in hospital and around 2 to 3 months of recuperation at home. All at a time when she will be taking her exams, applying for colleges and trying to be the thing she really wants to be–a normal teenager.
I was hit for six. My daughter, however, took it all in her stride. She’s always been amazingly strong, but her reaction surprised even me. She agreed that the operation was the best choice, in spite of the limitations it would put on her in the short term, and immediately started planning how she would manage to study for two months while lying at 45 degrees. And all the while I was trying to hold the tears back (which I managed to do until we got home and I could hide in the bathroom).
So that’s where we are at the moment; waiting for pre-op assessments and for a date for her surgery. Once those are done we should get a date for surgery, and that’s when the real worrying begins.
In the meantime the heroine of my next book just happens to have scoliosis. She’s an adult–not a teenager–and she’s also a surprisingly strong survivor. Which I know my daughter will also be. Writing can not only be cathartic it can also be healing, it can reveal both our fears and our hopes for the future. And I have every hope that my daughter–like my heroine–will grow up to be a survivor.