Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Tuesday 15 December 2015


Loneliness is a cancer that incessantly eats away inside, with a hunger that can't be ignored. Oh, don't get me wrong ... you can put on that public face if you're practiced enough and no-one will probably know apart from those who share the experience. After all, people are used to the obligatory: 'I'm fine!' It's all they want to hear.  While inside, life is anything but fine. It's at Christmas when it hurts most - the loneliest time on earth because there's no escaping the carols, the festivities, the decorations and trees, shop windows begging you to buy, everyone smiling and happy, looking forward to holidays and spending time with family, not to mention unwrapping all those gifts on Christmas morning. Living alone, especially when you're unexpectedly thrown into a mix of emotions that don't fit with the 'season to be jolly' because the man you love chose to walk out on a marriage you believed was fine, already with someone who has already taken your place ... it leaves you isolated, vulnerable, at odds with the world around you. You're not a part of the planning of Christmas, the annual dilemma of whose turn it is to visit, or where you're supposed to be.

Memories pluck at the already raw open wound making it bleed.

Once upon a time Christmas was special. 
As a child, we didn't have much money, but we were rich in every other way because we shared, we had family, and more than anything else in the world, we knew we were loved beyond measure. On the night before Christmas, we'd lie listening to rustling of paper, whispered voices, footsteps creeping across the floor, shadows moving through a chink of light as our doors opened and shut. Our eyes remained tight shut. We cuddled the promise of our stockings on Christmas morning being full of little trinkets, pencils and crayons, chocolate soldiers and clocks ... with the bag of shiny gold-wrapped chocolate pennies and a satsuma wrapped in silver foil at the bottom. Outside our front door, always there would be a mysterious cardboard box of hidden treasures to see us through the day. Father Christmas really did exist! As well as food, there would be a gift for each of us. Meanwhile, clad in slippers and dressing gowns we'd excitedly make for the tree where, underneath would be a host of gaily coloured paper covering all shapes and sizes. For a while we'd simply touch and feel, trying to guess from clues we found there. But first ... breakfast. Second, dress. Third, there was the Church Service to attend, a cup of tea and mince pie to share with the congregation after which Dad shook hands, giving out gifts from under the tree to the children. Laughter and joy echoed all around us as a family as we stood on parade in our Sunday Best like the Von Trapp Family in 'The Sound of Music'. I remember the anticipation, the excitement, hearts fluttering as we drooled over gifts still waiting unopened under the tree. But then, this part was really the best time of all because once we were there, Dad handing us each a gift to be opened with just the one main present kept till last, however long we lingered with the wrapping for Mum to keep for next year, the greatest excitement of the day was almost done. We'd each have an Annual - a 'Bunty' or 'Princess' for me, 'Look & Learn' for my sisters, with a 'Paint By Numbers' set of pictures and Enid Blyton mystery to keep me busy the rest of the day. I remember the Noddy Theatre I received one year, Lego bricks to create villages and parks, miniature gardens to put together and plant with plastic flowers, racing cars on a track which needed to be set up (mainly for Dad's benefit!) We weren't born into an age of technology, with war games, i-pads, computers, techie games ... I'd love creating a pretend doll's house from an old grocer box, or a little shop, with lots of little packets of sweeties, dressing up as a shop keeper willing the rest of the family to play. Always, there was a family game ... Monopoly, The Memory Game, Buccaneer, Scrabble, Careers ... (I still have them today in a box under my desk!) The rest of the day was tradition. In the afternoon I'd settle to cutting out and dressing cardboard cut-out dolls from a wardrobe of clothes. There was plenty to keep us occupied. It was the only time we ever had a roast, when chicken tasted extra special because it was a rare treat, with roasties and veg, and oodles of gravy, followed by Christmas pud with sixpences hidden inside.

Memories can be cruel. It's times such as this I crave those times of childhood innocence when everything was so simple and I knew I was safe, protected, loved.

Loneliness thrives on memories, happy memories and sad ... especially when you have no idea how much of your marriage has been a lie! Loneliness happens for a variety of reasons, but it's the same mix of emotions of isolation, vulnerability, despair that can drive you to the brink. There are widows and widowers who say that the death of a loved one is easier to bear in many ways, because at least it draws a line, leaving sorrow, yes, but also gentle, happy, strong memories that can never die. They tell me they couldn't bear the thought of a loved one walking out on a marriage without warning, tainting what has been, leaving behind a confusion of betrayal and lies, not knowing any more what is real and true. More so because of the constant daily reminders ... Christmas cards arriving in his name as if he hasn't really gone, post needing to be re-addressed and passed on, everyday things that are impossible to do because he was a Carer as well as a husband. Hours can go by in a haze of pain on bad days, when you know nobody is coming to the door, leaving you feeling all the more isolated and alone.

When you do go out, on stepping back through the front door, the silence is deafening, immediately immersing you in a tsunami of emotion, while an ocean of tears chokes the inner scream. You put the kettle on, reaching for the TV control just to fill the house with sound. But then everything is related to Christmas. People laughing and joking, flooding the room with an agony of memories, filling your heart with a desperate aching longing for today to be so different to what it actually is.

How can Life be this cruel!

In among all the everyday feelings of loneliness when it often becomes easier to stay in, cocooned, cradled in the womb of home, surrounded by the familiar even if it means being alone; at Christmas you've also got to deal with the lack of company and a family to share it. There is no Christmas spirit! You sit on the sofa and drift, thoughts reaching back in time, trying to gain a different perspective, to bring back another way of Life ... richer, wealthier in all the ways that count most.


A tree?

Forget it.

Maybe there are crackers left over from last year to decorate the table, a token bit of sparkle and pizzazz. Cards deck shelves and mantle. I read and re-read the sentiments, wishing I could somehow magic those people here from memories of the past, along with family and friends now departed.

Christmas dinner?

What's the point!

Usually days drift into nights drift into days drift into nights seamless, never-ending ... a constant flow of Time. Evenings, weekends and holidays are worst because there's no way to find any kind of routine. Besides, these are times when families are together, out for the day, sharing time with one another. And that hurts like crazy!! At Christmas everything is accentuated. The void between those who have and those who have not is wider. I stare into the abyss, and the abyss stares back at me. Darkness becomes a friend, although I've become afraid again of the dark and lights need to stay on to get me through the night. But can I find the right bulb for my touch lamp at the side of my bed? I buy a bulb with an assistant's help, but the damn lamp is still not working. It means the slightest noise and I'm jumping ... having to constantly check and re-check the house, even under the sofa and behind the TV!!

'I promise ... you'll never ever be afraid again!'

He spoke those words to me back in the beginning.

'You have me to protect and look after you now!'

I trusted those words with a passion. He became my Sanctuary. His words cloaked the darkness of past years so effectively it was as if they had never been. So why did he renege on his promises?

'... for better or for worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health ...'

Did he even mean them as the words left his mouth, or was it all one almighty con? I'll never know.

All I do know is that loneliness becomes a living death ... a cancer that continues to eat away inside leaving just crumbs to try to get you through another day ... night ... day ... night ... day ...

 All paintings/drawings copyright Janine Harrington

Thursday 10 December 2015


My younger sister saved my life last night. 

Of course, she doesn't know it. How could she? Sometimes there aren't words to express the tsunami of emotion, the ocean of tears reflecting the trauma within. We talked for the longest time on the telephone. We share such a close connection she can usually feel instinctively something is wrong, even when we're not immediately in contact. On this occasion I called her ... it could have been a final farewell. No-one can know how that feels unless they have plummeted those depths and lost all hope, all feeling, experiencing a vast emptiness around and within, yet at the same time, a depth of emotion impossible to describe. It's the reason that, tens of years ago, I began what I call 'Spirit Art', a way of connecting with my soul, drawing out what cannot be put into words. The above is the first I ever drew which, when in therapy, became my symbol of hopelessness. By drawing it on a whiteboard as I entered the therapist's room, it was an unspoken message: 'Help me! I feel this bad ...' 

The picture speaks of a dark place, caught between one place and another in a kind of no-man's land, not knowing how to cope, To Be, to even present a public face to the world outside. It speaks also of Child ... a child who is lost without anyone looking for her, no-one has heard her silent scream. She resides in a place of uncertainty and self-doubt, following a trauma from which there is no escape. The Child carries torment and grief, a lethal concoction of panic and fear, and a tragic aloneness, where there is no past, no present, no future, simply What Is.

The events of this year has brought this Child to this bubble of darkness, without and within from which she cannot move on.

Christmas. Somehow something was missing, and even as we entered 2015 I kept asking Tony my husband what was wrong. My instincts have never failed me. I might not always have listened nor acted on them, but my internal warning system was definitely sounding the alarm ... yet his response irritably indicted only that all was well. What would be wrong? Whatever I felt was paranoia. 

The month of March brought a new contract of work in London, so many many miles away from the north where we lived. I'd grown accustomed to waiting ... a Lady in Waiting, I laughingly referred to myself. But it didn't seem funny any more ... only lonely, living life alone, when all I wanted was to be with him to share our life together. Work it seemed was taking him more and more away from me, building a wall between us. Yes, he came home. But then again, more and more infrequently ... first after three days working, then five ... finally there was only Saturdays we shared together. And instead of bringing something back as a surprise to his faithful wife waiting at home with a warm welcome, or taking her to dinner, celebrating our reunion; Saturdays became a mad rush of getting everything done ... ending with me slaving over an ironing board with so many white shirts.

I think back and wonder how I could have been so blind, so willing to please! Yet hope spurred me on ... hope that one day that man I married would return, showing he'd missed me, replacing my loneliness with specialness helping me once more know I had the greatest gift of all ... to love and to be loved. Such a precious gem, but which needs constant polishing and refinement to keep it fresh and new, something to which we could all aspire.

Yet even when home, his mind was obviously elsewhere ... his mobile always beeping, insisting it be answered, while he sat at the computer various times of the day, and later and later at night before coming to bed. Where was the conversation ... the sharing ... a meal out ... a chance to dress up ... the laughter and love which had been such an intrinsic part of our union in days of yore ... even intimacy had gone. I waited, willing myself to be patient, sharing concerns when moments allowed until inevitably that point arrived when he upped and left particularly early one Sunday morning in July for London. I wrote an email trying to put feelings into words. He's a black and white person, a man of logic not emotion. So I put in a plea asking that, if this was to be our future, travelling up and down the country for just one precious day of togetherness, maybe we should move closer to his work. I used to travel with him, writing during the day, meeting up at night for a meal. Happy days! They could easily happen again ... 

His response caught me off-guard, and yet immediately gelled with instincts which had kicked in and remained since the beginning of the year. One Sunday morning, his email arrived. I was to blame! I had pushed him into this! Basically his email defined the end of our marriage. A line had been drawn. He wouldn't be home again. He had a house in London and ... as I was to discover because he inadvertently called me by her name ... a lady he'd met in the north. He'd been leading a double life and I have no idea how long it had been going on.

Lies ... deceit ... betrayal.

I had a breakdown. I'm just recovering from bronchitis/pneumonia. Our divorce is approaching finalisation. The year is coming to an end. Christmas, always special, is now a season of dread. Six months after that first defining email, it's like going full circle, back to the place the tsunami of emotion first began. Again, I feel broken, abandoned, rejected ... the lost and frightened child.

Inside, my fragile world is filled with pain. Memories of the past fall like a string of dominoes, cascading all the pain on top of me while I cry oceans of tears for all the wasted years. Yet, at the same time, because he keeps hammering home how much more he could have done, how much more he could have taken from me, from our home, I can't help but be haunted by what I must have done that was so wrong to justify being treated this way. An old quotation comes to mind: 'If I've been a good girl, why would all these people want to hurt me?' I was brought up to believe that only good things happen to good people. Only if you stray off the path, like Red Riding Hood, does the big bad wolf come to get you. Yet my PhD in Life had already taught me this was not so ... that evil preys on the vulnerable, the naive, the uninitiated, the unprotected, those who choose to see the good in others rather than reflect on the bad.

I recognise I've been in this place before, even though I vowed I would never be again. I feel controlled, threatened, especially as texts come through that I could lose so much more. Words can be powerful weapons, as can the manner in which words are spoken. And so it is that I exist. Period. But then, last night, I reached the edge ... looking into the abyss as the abyss stared back at me. Darkness. Somehow it seemed inviting. Could that darkness offer peace? It was the kind of thought that was sucking me in, drawing me ever closer. I'd completed the book for veterans. Job done. Yes, I am contracted for one further book by another publisher, the second in a two-part series about RAF 100 Group, 1945 operations, the aftermath of war, and a discussion about why they never received either the recognition or reward they were due. The first of the series is due out in January. But I just felt so alone, so vulnerable, so abandoned and useless. It was as if somehow I'd walked into a trap over five years ago, and now someone else controlled me.

What is a Life worth? Or rather, what is MY life really worth?

I was a Counsellor for tens of years. I know what I would be saying to me. But it wasn't words I needed, rather warm arms wrapped around me, embracing, enveloping me in protective love, letting me know I am needed, I still have something to offer, my job is not yet over, I am not yet done.

I telephoned my younger sister. Closing my eyes, it was like she was right there with me in the room. Into the silence we talked and shared our hopes, our dreams, past times, happy memories, speaking from the heart, reaching out across the miles, knowing instinctively we were each there for one another. We talked for the longest time, the ebb and flow of the tide of emotion spilling out words, endlessly pushing darkness to one side until, finally, her phone died. I had lost that connection. But she had brought me peace. Soon after, I curled up like a fetus in the womb of my bed, closing my eyes to thank God for bringing me through.

The Child was safe and warm, drifting into dreams, free of the nightmare of the past. 

My sister, knowing these days leading up to Christmas would be particularly lonely and difficult for me to cope with, had sent a box of advent gifts, one for each day of December. Little brown pots were numbered with the days marked on small pegs, and in each was a note offering me words of comfort, with a corresponding gift to open on that day. As I woke to a new day, a panic attack already gnawing at my stomach, tears streaking down my cheeks, I sat with my first cuppa of the day, drawing Number 10 to me, reading the precious note within. With loving words it bid me open a gift with the same number ... and with trembling fingers, I uncovered a beautiful grey fluffy jumper, reaching out to me like a warm hug.

Thanks Sis for being there for me with gifts and words of comfort, strength and support.  You are very precious and valued.

I love you xxx