Remembering Albert

Albert

Twenty five years ago this month a gay teenager, Albert Kennedy, fell to his death from a multi storey car park in Manchester. According to a friend who was out with Albert that night they were being chased by ‘queer bashers’. This was not new to Albert, he had been subjected to homophobic abuse regularly, both when out in the vibrant gay scene of Manchester and at the children’s homes that he had been placed with. Albert fitted into the mould of a group of young gay teenagers back in 1989, displaced from their homes, not able to settle in foster homes and bullied in the children’s homes all because of their sexuality. Even the way Albert’s death was reported was laden with homophobia, describing the scene of his death as some kind of plague ridden zone that had to be made safe for the public.

The friend that Albert had been with that night, Paul, was being fostered by a lady called Cath Hall. Cath knew Albert personally but more than this she knew the story of his ongoing persecution all too well. Cath felt that she could not meet the full range of needs of the young LGBT people who got placed with her. As a result, and at the cost of a lot of attack towards her (Cath got called The Witch of Withinshaw), the Albert Kennedy Trust was formed. The Albert Kennedy Trust currently works in Greater London and Greater Manchester and looks to fill the gaps that Cath hall had identified. They aim to meet the individual needs of each young person that they come into contact with and help them to get back on track. They support those young people who have become displaced or been victims of domestic violence because they have come out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans*. Support is available through a range of schemes, mentoring, befriending, online, face to face and phone support, and an accredited training programme to promote independent living skills. The Albert Kennedy Trust works at both managing crises and in planning for the future.

Their work is valuable beyond measure and it is a charity very close to my heart. This is why I chose to make a donation of two weeks of my book sales (as stated in a previous post- Don’t Say The P Word) as well as a personal donation of £10. It’s not as much as I’d like to give but is all I can right now.

If you want to find out more, or support the Albert Kennedy Trust then please visit their site: http://www.akt.org.uk/

Please note I am not affiliated with the Albert Kennedy Trust, I write this solely as a supporter.

Don’t Use The P Word!

I’m not talking about racist slang or words for what dwells in men’s underpants, the P word in question here is politics.

Now, I’m not an activist, far from it; I’ve only ever been to one march and if I’m perfectly honest I left part way through to go to a pub. It’s not that I don’t have a political viewpoint, I do, quite a strong one, I just don’t usually have the energy or inclination to argue about it.

(FWIW I’d say I’m a left leaning liberal with some socialist ideology)

The other day I broke my ‘don’t use the P word’ rule and tweeted in a slightly less than complementary way about the Unintelligent Kill Immigration Party (you know the ones, they like real ale and dislike accurate figures), I *might* have even retweeted the suggestion that people book tickets to the public meetings and not go. And I *will* admit that I might have said that I, myself, have done this. I got a couple of negative tweets, blocked a couple of people and thought nothing else of it.

A couple days later I was reminded of my tweets. My book got 10 one star reviews within a minute or so of each other, all of them not verified purchases. Some of them were boggling. some of them just meant to upset, almost all of them badly written.

My favourites are this angry yet somehow poetic description of my chick lit as some sort of Marxist propaganda:

DO NOT BY (sic) THIS FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR RESPECT FOR HUMANITY. Absolute disgrace to literature. The left wing propaganda is just a whole other plane of madness. A true leftist hates freedom.

and this one which, if it is an ironic mis-spelling, could be pure genius.

What tripe. Honestly couldn’t believe I paid money (um…you didn’t) for the intelligible (well, thank you.) ramblings of some socially and politically illiterate dolt. Don’t even bither (sic) (snigger)

And I was linked by a friend to an infamous internet forum that is the technological equivalent of the underneath of the bridge that the Billy Goats Gruff liked to clip clop over. I was being torn to pieces as leftie scum and there was a link to my book. Mystery solved.

So I had an idea. As I don’t really do the p word thing I thought that rather than a flaming war of words I do something good. Let’s show the trolls that they make no difference, go to Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-Nicola-Sheehan-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM), buy my book and I’ll donate my next two weeks profits to charity.

I did wonder if I could find the ‘Eastern European Builders Who Want Your Jobs LGBT Division’ to really make their troll blood boil, but instead have decided on a charity that is very dear to me, the Albert Kennedy Trust who help displaced LGBT teenagers to find help and support.

So please, buy into my ‘left wing propaganda’, let’s show the trolls and make a bit of money for an awesome charity.

http://www.akt.org.uk/

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Sylvia Plath is somewhat of a heroine of mine. I have an excerpt from ‘Mad Girls’ Love Song’ tattooed on my forearm. I like to lose myself in her words. I also like to look to her for inspirational quotes.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Is one of my favourites, and one that is uppermost in my mind today.

As well as Tiger Tiger I have another completed book, a children’s book titled ‘Grimalkin Grumblepuss and the Case of the Vampire Dentures.’ I recently submitted it to an agent who I felt was looking for books very similar to Grimalkin. I had high hopes. Yesterday I received the rejection:

“Thank you for giving me a shot with this. It has some lovely points, but when I take a new writer on I have to feel sure I can sell their book well, and I’m afraid I’m not quite there with this.

Of course it’s a subjective business, and another agent may well love.

Best of luck with it.”

It’s one of the nicest rejections I’ve received (trust me on this) and I’m trying to just cling to the positives in it. Though if nothing else it shows me I try.

Image

Tiger Tiger is available from the Kindle Store at a promotional price of £1.99 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

What’s In A Name..?

When can a writer describe themselves as a writer? Is there certain criteria that you need to hit in order to state that as your profession rather than your hobby? Like how often you write each day? Or how much money it makes you? Or is it like gender or ethnicity? It’s simply down to what you identify as? Though if that is the case perhaps I would like to identify as a supermodel as much as the majority would disagree.

Let’s accept for now an ‘I write, therefore I am a writer’ perspective; then when does a writer become an author? An author is broadly defined as “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.

So by definition I can describe myself as not merely a writer, but an author. Awesome.

So when does an author become a novelist? In Tiger Tiger the eponomous heroine, Rebecca Somersby describes herself as a novelist before she has written a novel: 

“allows me to indulge in my actual profession, which is being a novelist. I say novelist, I haven’t actually written a novel yet but I definitely intend to soon therefore that is who I am and what I do…”

 

Is this fraudulant representation on Rebecca’s behalf or are we allowed to call ourselves what we feel inside?

My name is Nicola Sheehan. I am a writer, an author, a novelist, a burlesque superstar, a Man Booker prize winner and I am going to rule the world!

One step at a time, eh..?

 

In the meantime Tiger Tiger is available for the Kindle Store on a summer promotional price of £1.99, go, read it…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

An Artistic Temperament?

In June 2011 my life was very different to how it is now. After the breakdown of my marriage in 2009 I had managed to pull myself together and become a successful working single mother. I was a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care at St. Thomas’ Hospital. It was my dream job. All was good.

Well, apart from the increase in anxiety that I’d felt and the panic attacks that started sneaking in.

The panic started to get so bad that at work I would hide in the toilets and pray that no one paged me. I had friends I could talk to, my manager tried to be supportive though obviously she had a service to deliver and my emerging illness was interfering with this. As my health got worse I turned to the Samaritans, when I’m unwell using the phone causes me massive anxiety so I exchanged emails with an anonymous ‘Jo’. I knew that each ‘Jo’ I spoke to was a different person but ‘Jo’ was still a huge support.

Despite me talking my despair through with the ever understanding ‘Jo’ in late June I hit crisis. My head went to the darkest place it has ever gone to. I was terrified. Luckily I had a friend, Emily, who had experienced mental health problems herself and she fought tooth and nail to get me the help that I needed.

I lost my job. Probably for the best. Even with help I had to admit that I was very unwell, years of supressed emotions had come rushing out and my life would never be the same.

I’ve had two years now of not working, of being in constant contact with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, the wonderful people at Mind. I now have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and still struggle with my condition.

One thing that has helped me through has been my writing. Since I’ve been unwell it’s been the thing that has given me an outlet, it’s given me an identity away from motherhood, away from my illness, something to hold up and be proud of.

You read a lot about people with mental health conditions being artistic, hordes of celebrities have regular walks with the black dog; I’m not sure if there is a correlation but a friend of mine who also has BPD suggested recently that the BPD was a tax on being fabulous. I’ll take that.

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you?gclid=CKz9voPIp7gCFQTMtAodcVkAkQ

http://www.mind.org.uk/

Tiger Tiger is available in the Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D5EYHAM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

The Difficult Second Novel…

I’ve been writing my follow up to Tiger Tiger for a while. It’s not a sequel, I decided that Rebecca Somersby was best off as a one diary kind of gal (I’m still reeling from the disappointment that came with ‘Edge of Reason’). It’s called ‘Fidelity Wars’, it looks at five characters and how they bend the rules of fidelity to allow for their individual indiscretions.

I know each of the characters inside out. I’ve plotted out their story arcs chapter by chapter. I’ve even completely finished two of the five ‘heroines’ tales. It was all going quite well. It excited me. It felt fresh and exhilarating. Then I decided to publish Tiger Tiger (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-ebook/dp/B00D5EYHAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372865918&sr=1-1&keywords=tiger+tiger+nicola+sheehan) almost as a precursor to the completion and subsequent promotion of ‘Fidelity Wars’. And it’s got awesome feedback.

And there’s the catch, ‘Tiger Tiger’ has been so well received and ‘Fidelity Wars’ is really very different and so I’m suddenly struck with rather crippling writer’s block at the thought that I’m writing something that might disappoint.

I see camping in a coffee shop and lots of frustrated screen gazing in my near future…