An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 6 days to go!


Sitting in the school hall, I fiddle with the ties on my dress, waiting for the rest of the classes to come in. The Year 6 children are last, and they’re allowed to sit on benches at the back of the hall—that will be me next year.

Assembly time is most definitely the most boring part of the school day… ask anyone. We have to walk in single file with our ‘silent voices’—which is ridiculous really, as it isn’t a voice at all if it’s silent, is it… someone ought to tell the teachers this—we have to sit in silence, and then we have to look at the front, and only the front, where our head teacher stands with her hands clasped in front of her.

I’m sitting next to Jack, a boy in my class. He was new just before we broke up for the holidays, so I don’t know him very well. I do, however, know that he smells a bit funny, like a sausage pan or something, so I try not to turn in his direction, just in case I get a whiff of him. Daisy, my best friend, is sitting next to me on the other side which is a bit of a treat really, as we’re not usually allowed to sit together because we talk too much.


I don’t actually agree, because I don’t talk very much to anyone at all. Daisy does all the talking. In fact, she talks to whomever she sits next to, not just me.

“Good morning, children.” Mrs Harris’ voice booms across the hall and makes me jump.

“Good morning, Mrs Harris, and good morning everybody.” The whole school choruses together in whiny, sing-song unison that makes me cringe every single morning.

“We have a visitor in our assembly this morning, who has come from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to talk to you about something very important.”

My interest is piqued momentarily as I hadn’t noticed the stranger sitting on the chair near the front, and I flick my eyes over to him to see if I can guess his name. It’s a game I like to play in my head. I’m usually quite good at it.

“So, I’d like you to sit up straight and give our visitor, David, a warm welcome.”

Damn. I thought it might have been Paul, or John.

Mrs H nods towards the stranger who smiles at her politely and gets up from his chair, walking slowly but animatedly to the front of the hall. He claps his hands in front of him and bends slightly at the waist, glaring at all of us with an almost manic grin plastered across his face. “Good morning, children. I’m David, and I would like to tell you a story.”

Well that’s just great.

Whole school stories are usually completely babyish and geared for the reception children, so when he starts with ‘once upon a time’ I pretty much switch off, and as time ticks along, I become increasingly anxious for the whole thing to be finished so that we can go out to play. My attention is jolted, though, when Daisy elbows me and whispers in my ear.

“Can you smell him from here? ‘Cause I can.”

I frown and look at her. “Who? David?”

“Burger Boy.”


“Jack… Burger Boy. He stinks of burgers all the time. Can you smell him?”

I glance towards Jack who is listening attentively to The Storyteller, and I discretely inhale deeply to see if I can actually smell him today.

“Not really.”

“Eurgh. Well I can, even from here. You must have a cold or something.”

“So… can anyone give me a definition of what they think bullying is?” David’s question has nearly the whole school sitting up straight, their hands shooting in the air and their hands flapping whilst they hyperventilate in an attempt to get his attention and answer the question. There is some lame sticker involved, or an ironically pointless house point, for the person who answers correctly.

“Yes. What’s your name?” He points to Jack. Burger boy…


“Okay, Jack… go ahead.”

Jack looks down at his fingers that are entwined in his lap and lifts his huge eyes up to look at the visitor. “Well, it’s when someone is unkind to another person, but not just once. It’s when it happens over and over again by the same person, to the same person, making them feel sad, or hurt, or… worthless.” His voice is a little croaky, like when you first wake up and before you have had a chance to talk to anyone. I wonder if it’s the first time he has talked to anyone today… surely not.


Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.


Pre-order the e-Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.


An Excerpt from Break the Cycle… 7 days to go!


“Detention, again, Justin? That’s…” I shuffled my notes on my untidy desk, hunting for the report handed to me not ten minutes earlier by the headmaster’s secretary. When I finally alighted on her perfect script written in neat lines of violet ink, I all but pounced on it, shaking the wisps of loose hair away from my eyes and scanning it quickly. “… Three times this week. Are you going for a record?”

The teenage boy on the other side of my desk shrugged nonchalantly. His lips were tight and his brow was knitted into a frown that never seemed to leave his face, giving away the fact that though his shrug may have appeared not to care, his eyes told a different story.

I hadn’t had the job for long. Fresh out of college, I was still in the phase of my working life when I believed I could help to change the world one mixed-up teenager at a time.

School counsellor. The title sounded so grand to my young ears, the nameplate on the door of my office giving me a high each time I passed it. This was my chance to prove that not all kids who acted out were lost causes. I would put the world to rights one day, and I would start with St. Bartholomew’s High School.

I hadn’t quite admitted to myself yet that my plans for world peace might not happen quite according to the schedule I’d set for myself. It turned out that teenagers were much more complicated than I’d realised. Case in point – Justin Baines. Fourteen years old, with a string of detentions, suspensions and even a couple of police warnings under his belt already. He was the one that kept eluding me, the one they warned you about in college with their “don’t get too involved” speeches and warnings against caring too much. Despite having spent my entire life being told what a great listener I was, somehow every one of those warnings had fallen on deaf ears. He’d got to me. Without even trying, the kid had me awake at night agonising over how to get through to him . . .


Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.


Pre-order the e-Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Pre-order the paperback direct from SML (UK ONLY):

Google Form

Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.



Let me first start by saying that the run-up to this event was an exhausting ordeal in itself (for me and no doubt many others, including the organisers).

For more than a month prior to the signing I was running a blog tour. Every day I featured a different writer (most signing at Leeds, some not). The blog tour meant quickly collecting everyone’s words and putting them into blog posts vaguely resembling the same sort of format! That was time out of my own routine, as was formatting the blogs into what became a special paperback produced in honour of this signing.


View the tour

Buy the paperback

 Was it tiring? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes.

With busy periods in your life comes the slump afterwards when you’re left wondering – what next? In quick succession, I recently finished a novel. Finished the blog tour. Edited someone’s memoirs for them. Then prepared for a book signing. It’s all been a total mind fuck.

In the run-up to a signing, your finger constantly hovers over the re-order button on all the sites you’ve bought books, bookmarks, posters and merchandise from. You’re in a perpetual state of thinking, Have I bought enough? Have I done enough? It is absolute madness. You get to the point where you become at one with everything and if you haven’t got it, tough shit.


So, the run-up to these things is crazy. The day itself is crazy. The aftermath is like venturing to Hell’s Mouth and teetering on the edge for days on end. I’ve been sat here sort of laughing and cackling to myself, randomly recalling moments I’d almost forgotten about. Hubby sits next to me with a wry smile, just knowing I’m running it all through my head again and storing it in the long-term data banks.

Last year when I did my first signing in Peterborough, I could barely stomach my breakfast. This year I managed a few things for breakfast because I knew what to expect and I was glad I had some food in me because it was non-stop all day long. I barely had time to breathe, I don’t think anyone did. I must have dropped about half a stone in one day from nervous excitement, the air-con and generally having to concentrate and sound lucid! LOL.


On Saturday there were few moments to stop and think and it’s why the aftermath is always so bittersweet. These events are so treasured and so overwhelming that afterwards, you wish you had done this, that or the other. All I can comfort myself with is the fact that there will be more signings. Here’s just a few of the things (however) which particularly made Leeds special for me (these might not come to me in the same order of the day’s timeline):

  • I was placed in a Ham and James-Marlow sandwich. Otherwise known as sitting between Lisa Fulham and the delectable duo Victoria L James and Francesca Marlow. I like to think of James-Marlow as being like a delightful salad relish with a dash of bourbon! It was great to be able to sneak a glance at what was going on at the tables around me. Victoria’s mum holding a glass of wine… a very LARGE glass I may add. Go on my love! Victoria was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience, as were many other debut signers. Nothing quite compares to your first time and realising that actually, yes, people really do love your work. For every troll out there wanting to pull you down, there are dozens of people clambering to get a piece of you – people who love reading and totally get what self-published authors are trying to do. Indie books have more of the soul, less of the polish that strips out what makes each author individual, and I love that. I think many people do. As for Lisa “Manchester” Fulham, I only have to look over at her and smile and we just know what the other is thinking!
  • Dented bottles! Yes, I became obsessed with a dented wine bottle after I partook of one glass of wine during the signing. I think it went straight to my head…! 😉
  • “They Say I’m Doing Well” was a huge hit, the charity anthology I led, alongside 28 other authors. It was wonderful to see so many people holding their copies and trying to get them signed by all the authors in attendance who’d participated. Like I say, in the run-up to this signing I’d been pedal to the metal with this project but the messages from people who really got what this blog tour/book were all about really made it all so worthwhile. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to do what I do. In my day job, I help people get published. It’s a dream. I will always consider this a privilege. It’s special. It’s not even work for me. For people to congratulate me on standing up for mental illness seems bizarre. It’s something I feel necessary to do, not even that, but a natural urge. It’s not brave, but normal, to talk about things. That’s all. And yet the interest I am getting in this project is gathering pace on a daily basis. I am not kidding you!!!!
  • NooNoo’s shaking on the dancefloor. She really can drop to the floor as well!! Louise White is my favourite blogger. She rocks. Despite the broken zip, well… you had THE GLOVES so it didn’t matter. I hold you responsible for me writing Tainted Lovers because you mentioned there weren’t enough novels around about married couples…
  • Seeing Rachel and Jo, the Hourglass ladies, tear up as they were presented with a card and presents at the end of the day was like watching all their tension slide away in one fell swoop as they suddenly realised “we did good”. It was amazing. Pats on the back darlings. We’re one crazy group of authors. I never doubted Jo and Rach for a moment.
  • Having authors like Charming Man and Anna-Maria Anthanasiou, EJ Shortall, Lavinia Urban, Rebecca Sherwin, Cameron Lincoln (I know your real name, I know your name – sang to the Casino Royale theme tune) and so many others know your face. It’s truly a bizarre thing to be recognised.
  • The whole day felt nicely spread out and nobody had to wait for too long, everyone had a great spread of visitors to their table. I remember looking over at Scarlett Flame and Neil Winnington who were both loving it. I couldn’t take my eyes off Scarlett’s steampunk outfit (HA HA, Scarlett).
  • The BAD, BAD, BAD Dad dancing at the masquerade ball. IT WAS BAD. LOL.
  • Rachel falling over in her huge ball dress. It had to happen and it did. Shame nobody had their phone out at the time.
  • Victoria L James break dancing in a pretty red dress. I’m sure I was seeing things!

However, the moment of the day has to be this:

My husband (who was in and out all day) was walking in through the hotel’s revolving doors when he overheard two women stood outside, deep in conversation. He overheard, “EL James is okay, but the thing about Sarah Michelle Lynch is you can actually relate to her characters.”

My husband’s gob was smacked big style. I don’t think I can convey how proud he is of me on a normal day, let alone that day. I actually thought he was kidding me when he told me this. He waited until after the signing to tell me. I thought he was lying. I thought it was just a joke. IT WASN’T. *sniggers* When it sank in, I had a little cry and he reminded me of all the stuff he constantly reminds me of that keeps me going. Somehow, I am reaching people. I think of myself as like the Reliant Robin of social media management but obviously I’m not doing too badly! LOL. (I still think my husband is lying!!!)

My thanks go to Rachel Hague, my “date” for the ball. Your stamina astounded me. You got round every single table. I will forever remember you as the first person to hit my table at my very first signing last year. We ❤ Lottie.

Thanks to Michaela – she bought so many books! Girl loves her some books.

EJ Shortall – it shocked and awed me when you said you read AA before you became an author yourself. Just wow.

My thanks also go to everyone aforementioned, as well as each and every author who participated in “They Say I’m Doing Well” – and for Jo and Rach supporting the idea.

Thanks to everyone who came to my table, new or old readers or general enquirers, you are all appreciated. I think I sold a fair few copies of the Sub Rosa trilogy to some mature ladies who have still got it in them. Wa-hey. That rocked my world. I sell quite a few ebooks every month but in one day on Saturday, I sold dozens of paperbacks which doesn’t often happen and left me made up.

As for what’s next? I am DYING to get back to writing, which I haven’t done much of so far this year. However, at this moment in time, I really do think it might be time to put my feet up a moment and reflect, digest and bask in the warm glow of such a great day.

I do however have a new notebook…

Much love,

Sarah x

p.s. if you got some pics with me on the day, tag me in them because I barely got a sausage 😥

*Now Live in Paperback*

THEY SAY“They Say I’m Doing Well” is a collection of blogs about overall mental health and it has now become a paperback. 29 authors came together, uniting in the hope of discussing matters often brushed under the carpet. In the process the book is supporting Mind, the UK mental health charity championing improvements to mental health services across the country. £1 from every copy will be donated to Mind.

From poetry to short stories, first-hand experiences to monologues and matters of the heart, “They Say I’m Doing Well” aims to reassure others they are not alone. You can read everybody’s words on this blog for FREE:

Words have the power to change lives; to educate and nurture, to help bring people together. The authors have put their hearts and souls into this project. Issues tackled include post-natal depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, stress, eating disorders, the strains of coping with physical illness, overcoming cancer, domestic abuse and suicide.


You can reach the authors who contributed to the project by clicking through these links: Alexandra North, Amelia J Hunter, Andie M Long, Anna-Maria Athanasiou, Audrina Lane, Blake Rivers, Carrie Elks, Charlotte Hart, Claire C Riley, David E Gordon, EJ Shortall, Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, Francesca Marlow, Glenn Haigh, Grace Harper, HA Robinson, Hemmie Martin, Lavinia Urban, Lisa Fulham, Mandy Gibson, Muriel Garcia, Rachel Hague, Rebecca Sherwin, Sarah Michelle Lynch, Scarlett Flame, Stevie Turner, SJ Warner, T A McKay and Victoria L James.

To buy the paperback and support Mind, follow these BUY LINKS:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Or to support our project with more than a £1 donation, visit our Just Giving page to give a little more: – your donation goes direct to the Mind charity.

Thank you x

They Say I’m Doing Well… the blog tour… becomes a paperback…

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem

Throughout the month of February, is hosting 29 authors, all with stories, poems and articles to raise awareness of mental health/life issues.

The authors include:

Alexandra North

Amelia J Hunter

Andie M Long

Anna-Maria Athanasiou

Audrina Lane

Blake Rivers

Carrie Elks

Charlotte Hart

Claire C Riley

David E Gordon

EJ Shortall

Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Francesca Marlow

Glenn Haigh

Grace Harper

HA Robinson

Hemmie Martin

Lavinia Urban

Lisa Fulham

Mandy Gibson

Muriel Garcia

Rachel Hague

Rebecca Sherwin

Sarah Michelle Lynch

Scarlett Flame

SJ Warner

Stevie Turner

T A McKay

Victoria L James

You can read everyone’s words for free over on this link:

Nobody should face mental illness alone

Everyone taking part agreed it would be wonderful to mark this event with printed words and therefore we’ll be offering the collected blogs as a paperback, EXCLUSIVE to the Leeds Author Event which most of us are attending on March 5th, 2016.


AT LEAST £1 from each paperback sale will go to MIND UK (click link to find out more about this charity and how they’re helping to improve mental health services).

You can only get this book if you are coming to the Leeds event. Otherwise, you are welcome to read and re-read our blogs and donate direct to Mind through our JustGiving page:

PRE-ORDER THE PAPERBACK at this link (please read the small print):