A Light In The Darkness #4 + A Comment Challenge

Welcome back to The Realms Of Darkness, guys!

Firstly, I want to say thank you to all the people who have been loyally reading and commenting on my novel, A Light In The Darkness, so far. I appreciate all of your brilliant feedback and encouragement. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing and inspirational blogging community. You’re all awesome! A big thank you heading your way!

Right, let’s get going!

The last chapter, which can be read here, ended like this:

He appeared to make a decision, turning back towards me with fierce determination. “I need to tell you a story.” his whisper was harsh and cold, but a cold that was filled with feeling.

“Alright.” I said.

“It can’t be told here.” he hissed “The words are forbidden to pass through my lips.” I understood. “Let’s go.” I took his hand this time and led him away, following only the moon and hoping to find my way back to the light.

And now for A Light In The Darkness #4:

“Does this darkness ever end?” I looked up at the stars for an answer, as the Ambassador seemed lost in his own thoughts, stumbling along behind me, his proud eyes fixed determinedly on the ground. Yet I could tell his mind was wandering and could almost visualise the dreamy spirals escaping from his head and floating off into the gloom. I longed to leap up and catch them all, save them from their dark doom. I felt I knew something off the battle between light and darkness going on in the Ambassador’s mind right now. I wished that I could tell him not to give up hope, to keeping fighting for what was good and right. But I kept my mouth firmly shut, now was not the time.

We walked for hours in silence. I wondered about the Ambassador’s story and what it would entail. I imagined woe and sadness and lonely nights in a place where everything is dark. I was just thinking about how I would ask my parents if he could come live with us, when the Ambassador`broke the seemingly unbreakable quiet. “Morning will come.” he held up a hand that pointed dramatically towards the sky. “It will.” I think he was telling himself as much as he was telling me.

“We’ll travel until then.” I decided “We’ll walk until the sun blesses the earth with its golden light.” He nodded. “Are you tired?” he asked. “Not really.” I half lied. “Good.” I caught a brief sense of his previous brisk aura. He seemed to have two sides to him: the snarky and intolerant side and then the sensitive, passionate and caring one, sometimes almost vulnerable. I was learning fast to switch as quickly as he did.

“Let’s go.” I took charge before he could say anything else. I turned to march away, but suddenly a strong grip had established itself on my arm. I spun around in surprise. He’d read my mind. “I trust you, Faith.” he smiled genuinely “Honestly, I do. We have to trust each other, don’t we?” “Yeah.” I relaxed with a beaming grin. “We can get through this together. Now, it seems that my hearing this story of yours is the only way forward, so let’s do this thing.”

“When the light finally graces us with its presence, I will tell you everything.” he promised. “Then there’s no use walking any further.” I told him. “The realms of darkness disappear at daybreak, don’t they? And this place is just an ordinary forest, right?” “Right.” he yawned and sank down into the leaves to rest. “No ghosts or shadows to listen in on our conversation?” I checked. “Nope.” he said, eyes closed.

I lay awake, listening to his hard, manly breathing and thinking about how my life had changed in the last few hours. I never once imagined that I would be here now, in a way I wondered if it was all a dream. Then the memory of the Ambassador’s fiery eyes flashed through my mind and I knew that it was all real. I thought about the motivation those poor children and those scheming millionaires had given me. About how the Ambassador had showed me so many truths, both ugly and beautiful. He showed me that people really are dark and evil, it’s not just a fairytale myth.

But he also unwittingly shed light on the fact that good can reach even the darkest corners of our souls.

I must admit that the sight of the sun rising in the east and turning the trees into paintbrushes, their tips dipped in golden ink, was the most amazing thing I ever did see. I was overcome with emotion. Moonlight is so different to sunlight. It’s colder and so much more unforgiving. It is a strict parent, firm yet loving in hindsight. Because light is light whatever colour.

The sun’s touch felt amazing on my skin and I could have cried if it were not for the Ambassador stirring beside me. He looked different in the daytime. His eyes had a greenish tint and his hair shone warmly replacing the cold glow it used to give off. “Where do you go in the day?” I asked him. “I mean, you do guided tours of ‘the realms of darkness’ during the night, but what’s your day job?”

He waved his hands dismissively. “All will soon be revealed.” he said stoutly. “If you are ready, I will begin my tale. Questions at the end, please.” “I can tell you’re a tour guide.” I giggled, which roused a smile from him.

“Things happen in this world that may seem unbelievable to you.” he began, staring past me and up at the canopy that was suddenly alive with birdsong. “Like a boy just appearing. He was never born nor raised nor does he have any family. He was never given the role of Ambassador, he just floated into it, because he has nobody to guide him. He doesn’t believe in fate or destiny, but he acknowledges that it is maybe the only explanation for his existence. But then strange things happen here, things that seem impossible. So perhaps it was by a sort of black magic that he ended up in the position, being controlled by something bigger. Something that he knows not how to understand.” the Ambassador paused, but I hurried him on.

“When he was younger he used to get this strong sense of identity. He knew he didn’t belong here. He wanted so badly to do something different, something right. So he would beg the visitors to the dark side to tell him of the ways of the light. The more he heard the more he knew where he truly belonged. Eventually, after much thought, he decided to ask them to take him with them when they left. Many would laugh at him and refuse. Others would look at him with pity, but tell him that he’d never fit in. After many long years, he began to believe them. Believe that he was a bad person. Believe that he belonged to the dark side. And could never escape.”

I gasped. “But that’s so wrong!” He held up his hands, as if to shrug.

“Then, after what seemed like and probably was, an eternity, he met a girl who was different. A girl who really did care. She opened a door and let the light seep into his tired body. She showed him the truth to who he really could be. She looked like an angel until she opened her mouth.” he stuck his tongue out at me, which left me snorting with laughter.

“Did I really?” I whispered. “Yes,” he replied, reaching out to touch my black hair. He shook his head sadly. “You’re so pretty.” I forced a smile and looked down my hands. “I-” I bit my lip so much that it hurt. “What?” he searched my face. “You can ask me any question now.” I took a deep breath and looked him square in the eye. “What’s your name?”

“ No one ever gave me one.” he smiled, looking the slightest bit ashamed. “That’s okay.” I told him, laying my hand on his shoulder. “I’ll give you one.” “I’d like nothing more.” he replied.

“Let me think then.” I smiled teasingly. “Hmmm. Go away for a while and when you come back, you’ll have a name for the first time in your eternal life.” That made us both laugh. He waved as he practically skipped away into the forest.

I tore a page out of the notebook I always kept in my pocket and started jotting down words that reminded me of him.

After a while I was ready for his return. I waited and waited and waited and waited. But he never came. I was beginning to get worried. “Ambassador?” I cried out into the forest. There was no warm, humorous voice to reply. I gritted my teeth as the signal of my legendary determination and then I set off, running into the forest at an alarming pace, my sooty cloak flapping behind me.

Da da da!

Ok, so guys, I need your help with something super important (and fun!!!!) Being the totally organised writer that I am, I have obviously already got the Ambassador’s name. Like, of course I have! But I still want your suggestions! Please, please, please leave any random idea you have in the comments below. I recommend you use the same method as Faith, jot down words that remind you of him.

Note: please don’t be alarmed if one of your suggestions pops up in next time’s chapter! Congratulations, you will have officially named an Ambassador.

Now, let’s chat! Any thoughts, ideas, questions, queries, etcetera? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember Me

Remember me as I was before things changed and took a lifelong pause. Remember the me that was so sure that life could be shaped the me that was pure. Remember me back when we did not think that in a blink things would be so different I did not know what this meant. Remember […]

via Remember Me — Elsie L.M.C

I read this post and just had to share it. It is authored by the wonderful Elsie L.M.C, an inspiring blogger who genuinely cares about others. She wrote this poem about Alzheimer’s, a disease that affects so many of our older generation. It focuses on the fact that we so often judge people on who they are now, caught in an inescapable mess of muddled memories, sometimes unable to communicate or interact with others. But we forget about the person they used to be and still are, deep inside.

Me and my family cared for a 96-year-old gentleman for seven months and he had dementia, so I know what its like. It can be confusing, saddening and frustrating for everyone. But that just makes the moments when he smiled or laughed even more special and joyful. We need to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, so I have shared Elsie’s post with you today. Please enjoy….

 

My Honest Struggles: An Inspiring Rant

Hello Everybody!

The reason I started this blog was to be a’ light in the darkness’, to help and inspire others through my writing and to spread hope and light in a world that is cloaked in darkness.

But every person has their struggles, no matter who they are. And the only way they can make a difference is to accept them and embrace them. This is where honesty comes in. Honesty is the greatest tool a person has, because if they can admit to having flaws, they can begin to work on making things better.

One of the things I struggle with is actually being honest, and I really hoped this blog would help me with that. I feel like I haven’t opened up to you guys in a while so today I’ve decided to be brave and share some of my struggles. I thought maybe you could share your advice and we could chat in the comments? Perhaps we could help each other with our struggles? It really helps, and is a positive thing, for people to talk about their own experiences.

May, over at Forever And Everly, does a blogging series called Writer’s Woes. In her explanation of this series she says: If she (May) talks about her problems, there is a 97% chance that they will be solved. (The other 3% chance is that she’ll just end up agonizing over her life choices and ranting about all her other problems. #oops) 

This quote really makes me smile and what she says is perfectly true.

Just to say, this post is not supposed to be depressing, it’s meant to be hopeful and inspiring. We all have struggles, none of us are perfect. Let’s help each other.

So here are mine:

1. Being wrong. It’s nothing to do with what others think about me. It’s to do with myself, something deep inside me can’t cope with being wrong. You could call it extreme perfectionism. I always feel the need to defend myself if someone challenges something I’ve done or said. It makes it hard for me to take on their criticism, although it often meant to help me learn and grow.  It often causes my family to get frustrated with me because I don’t want to listen to what they say.

2. Being in pain. I have a condition called Femoral Anteversion which I won’t go into because it’s complicated, horrible and possibly very boring. Anyway, it causes me a lot of extreme pain in my legs. I am a very determined person and try not to let it stop me in any way, but sometimes I am unable to do things. This frustrates and upsets me immensely. For example, a couple of weeks ago, me and my siblings got together with some friends we hadn’t seen in months. There were about ten of us and every person there was really athletic (except me, of course). They wanted to play sporty running games all weekend. And there was me, stumbling along behind, refusing not to play. I was in so much pain, but didn’t want to say anything and ruin it for everyone else. 

However, this problem will hopefully soon be over as I am having a couple of operations this autumn!!!

3. Being Patient. I know I’m probably not the only one! This one is big for me as I desperately want to be a teacher! I need to work on it….

4. Being To Ambitious. I have always had big ideas and big ambitions and sometimes it’s difficult for me to acknowledge that they may not always walk hand in hand with reality. I’m being honest when I say that one of my greatest struggles is accepting that life can’t always be how I want it to be, that problems exist and that things are complex and ugly and hard to achieve.

I want so much to change the world and I cling on to any opportunity that arises, but the people I love try to tell me that I can’t make things happen too fast. Life isn’t that straight forward, sometimes I have to go with the flow. It affects me and I have to stop it becoming a negative thing.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What do you struggle with? Can you relate to any of my woes? Do you have any advice? Do you need advice on anything? I’m always willing to listen and try to help. Please can we talk? It would mean so much to me. 

So, let’s discuss our troubles! This blogging community is so amazing, we can totally draw together and help each other. Leave me a comment below please, people! Feel absolutely free to be honest, no one will judge you. As I said before, we all have our flaws! 

Gracie

Xxxxx

Virtual Hugs All Round!

Sometimes we all need a hug, but there’s no one there to give us one. Sometimes we all struggle, and we don’t even know why. Sometimes we just have to be honest and say “Look, I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Sometimes things hurt and life is hard.

Sometimes it just takes a little gesture of friendship to light a spark of hope and draw a smile on your face.

Here’s a virtual hug for everyone that needs one right now and, if you don’t, please pass it on! Let’s make a difference. Anyone can be a light in the darkness if they try.

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A Light In The Darkness Part 3: In Which Gracie Gets Philosophical

Heya guys!  Welcome to Part 3 of A Light In The Darkness, novel by Gracie Chick. If you need to read parts 1 and 2, please click here for 1 and here for 2!  Otherwise, keep readin’!

WARNING!!! Philosophical rambler here. Read on at own risk!

Right, as you know, this story takes place inside a metaphor, the crazy idea that maybe you have to see and experience the darkness to truly fight for the light.  This novel’s purpose is to help people understand the battle between these two sides. The actual reality to the way our world works.

This installment picks up where part 2 left off and gets deeper into that metaphor I was just telling you about. If you were listening!

So, here goes:

I stared bitterly at them, my fingers dancing over my thighs, drumming the rhythm of my war cry. I had worked tirelessly for years of my young life to uncover the identities of these people. To, as the Ambassador had said, separate the true light from the shady fakes and frauds. To bring justice to those who deserved it. Now they were right here and all I could do was observe, seething with anger, as they made decisions that no doubt costs the lives or freedoms of innocent people. It made me sick, there was nothing I could do.

“This place isn’t really the realms of darkness” I mused spitefully to my companion. “What do you mean?” he said, as if he didn’t care. “It’s just a mirage, a reflection, a shadow. Nothing here is real!” He turned to face me, his expression suddenly thoughtful. “No,” he replied slowly “I guess you’re right. But it has to be a mirage, a shadow, a reflection of something real, doesn’t it? A shadow always has a shape, a reflection is always a depiction, a mirage is always meant to look like something that really does exist.”

I bit my lip over and over, my brain whirring noisily inside my skull.

“I would call this place a gallery, I think.” he continued “You are watching another world through a window, the glass prevents you from being touched by it, but you in turn can have no contact.” 

“That makes it so much harder, not easier.” I wailed “It takes away none of the horrific mix of emotions I feel at witnessing these awful things yet it adds the frustration, extreme frustration, at being able to nothing to help.”

“This is difficult for you.” I felt a light touch on my arm “I’m sorry that you have to go through it, but it’s for the best, honestly. It’s exactly the same for all of you kids when you come here and it really does help you on your journey.” I looked up at the Ambassador and smiled apologetically, I could see traces of caring worry in his streaky orange eyes.

“You’re such a terrible representative. I wonder why they ever chose you.” I told him, twisting my hair between my fingers. I was getting used to black. “Why do you say that?” he asked drily. “Because you’re supposed to be like them!” I answered. “And I’m not?” he muttered, staring at the ground, his features suddenly hard again.

“Not at all!” I exclaimed “For goodness sake, you’re supposed to be smart. Don’t you know yourself?” “Sometimes I don’t know.” he murmured, sitting down on a log and rubbing his forehead with a strong, olive skinned hand.

I sat down beside him and gently tilted his face upwards so that he had to look into my eyes. “You don’t belong here, Ambassador.” I told him. “I can help you escape.” He gazed at me for a moment before shaking his head angrily. “No!” he laugh-cried “You can’t free me. No one can. I am bound to this place forever. You know what they say? Once on the dark side, always drowning in its depths.”

“They lie to you!” my voice was firm and loud. “It’s not the truth. Light can reach the darkest corners, you just have to make the choice to accept it. Look, you have to just trust me. Okay?” my voice echoed around the whispering trees. “Okay?” I yelled defiantly.

I saw him take a deep breath and his whole body shook, overcome by emotion. “It’s your turn.” I was whispering now “It’s your turn to trust me.”

He appeared to make a decision, turning back towards me with fierce determination. “I need to tell you a story.” his whisper was harsh and cold, but a cold that was filled with feeling.

“Alright.” I said.

“It can’t be told here.” he hissed “The words are forbidden to pass through my lips.” I understood. “Let’s go.” I took his hand this time and led him away, following only the moon and hoping to find my way back to the light.

Ooh! I must say, this is my favourite part so far. I really like the depth of conversation and dialogue that I managed (after many attempts) to create. I also like the picture the last scene leaves in my mind. *closes eyes and imagines* Try it, gone on. You know you want to!

See’s you all later, people. And leave me a comment please!

Gracie

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Where I Belong

There are guns and bandits in this story.
And supermodels.
And there’s drought and starvation too.

Are you wondering how they all come together?
Well, that’s how life is these days. Things don’t happen neatly in separate little places. We’re all caught by the great spider’s web of media that spans the world.

That’s where this story is set. The world.
It’s the story of Abdi and Khadija and Freya (that’s me) and what happened to us because of Somalia…….

When I read that on the back of this amazingly, unbelievably beautiful cover, I knew I wanted to read this book.

This is another version of the cover, which I feel is just as striking.

This is one of those books with a whole load of bold, inspiring quotes that I will be delighted to share with you guys. But first, I would like to review this story.

I feel like this book showed me the world, all the shocking truths and the uncomfortable realities. It didn’t hide anything from its reader, it was honest and raw and challenging. Its purpose seemed to shine from every page: informing and empowering today’s young people to make a difference, make a change.

It mixes the worlds of war-torn, desperate Africa with the glamour and flamboyance of London’s secretive fashion industry, to create an interwoven story of deep characters and fantastic ideas.

The character that spoke to me the most was Khadija, a poor nomadic girl who comes over to the UK as a teenager, to get an education. Through a chance encounter with London’s top fashion designer, she reluctantly gets tangled up in the elusive net of models and fashion. Her mind is filled with secrets and she is torn between many loyalties, but she remains strong and true to her beliefs and family. 

Her character is an interesting one, as she only becomes involved in the modelling to pay her brother’s ransom when he is kidnapped by desperate criminals back in Africa. It is going against all her values as she is a Muslim. The way the story develops is quite beautiful to watch. Relationships form between all the characters and the tight plotline unravels, obviously revealing the odd baddie every now and then!

It makes you wonder what part you play in this world. Where you belong. Where do you belong? 

I’m quite proud of that review actually. I really enjoyed writing it and enjoyed reading the book even more. I would absolutely, unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone over thirteen/fourteen as several scenes are quite upsetting and shocking.

Now, I am bursting to share some of those awesome quotes I was telling you about. As you know, I just cannot resist these little snippets of speech, windows to other worlds. Here are a few striking ones from this book:

However rich Khadija gets, she can’t end the fighting that tears Somalia apart. Only the warlords and the pirates can do that, by putting down their guns.

She can’t change the fact that the modern, citified world doesn’t leave much room for boys who want to be nomads. And she can’t do anything about the global warming that makes the rains fail and dries up the waterholes. Not on her own, anyway. Those are huge issues, involving everyone.

Like I said at the very beginning, we are all connected.

Those were the last few paragraphs of the book and, after everything that went on between its pages, those words almost left me in tears.

The next bit is from the point of view of Abdi, who is describing the place he is originally from: Somalia. He hasn’t been there since he fled as a refugee many years ago.

Kids strolling down the streets, with AK47s over their shoulders. Battle wagons with sub-machine guns mounted in the back, and men haggling over ammunition at the arms market in Mogadishu.

You need to be strong to survive in a place like that. You need a good family to back you up, and a pride in your identity.

Freya is the daughter of Sandy Dexter, the fashion designer who spots Khadija and persuades her to be the star of her next show. Freya is nothing like her Mother, she doesn’t care about clothes or trends or the media. She’s more like her Father, a war photographer who’s been to Somalia.

Freya becomes good friends with Khadija and earns her trust. Here she is describing her Father’s job.

Somalia was just a name in a list I’d been reciting for most of my life: My Dad’s been a war photographer in Darfur and Afghanistan and Rwanda and Somalia…….

There were pictures to go with the words, of course, because that’s what a photographer does, but they weren’t the kind of images you’d show to a little child. By the time I was old enough to see them, Dad’s trips were in the past , and I never really sorted out which was which. The photos were all pictures of violence and grief and dust, and the places blurred together in my mind.

What do you think? Have you read this book? Would you read it? Did you enjoy my review? What about the quotes? Please let me know your thoughts by dropping me a comment below! *points down at comment box* Thank y’all very much for listening! 

Gracie

Xxxxx

A Light In The Darkness (The Novel): Part Two

Hiya People! It’s been five days since I left you all on that ruthless cliffhanger. *gasps* I know, how could I possibly do such a thing to you guys?! Shocking, eh?

How have you withstood the tension? How have you coped with the suspense?

I got so much positive feedback from you guys last time (along with many desperate pleas for more!) So I’ve decided to post the next part from where we left off last time.

To recap:

And with that he bowed low, his shining hair brushing the floor. “Welcome to the realms of darkness, Faith.”

I screamed.  

To read part one and find out about the whole plot idea/theme/complicated look into Gracie’s crazy writer’s mind, click here. Thank you!

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next part in Gracie Chick’s ongoing novel: A Light In The Darkness. Please enjoy!

Time seemed to stand still as a huge ghostly shadow reared up from behind the trees to greet us. Taking the form of a thousand children, skeletally thin, faces worn and desperate, they marched in rows. Their hands were cupped, begging for a few spare coins, their eyes were begging for kindness.

They stumbled straight past us without so much as a glance in our direction. Their small, pitiful cries echoed far and near.

“They look so real.” I whispered. The boy’s reply came like a breath of wind brushing my ear. “That’s because they are.” “Is this it?” I asked quietly “Is this what the darkness really looks like?” “Yes, but we’d better keep moving. There’s much more to see.” he answered.

The children kept marching, further and further away through the woods, their dim eerie lights glowed like little lanterns in the darkness and their stricken voices still crying out for the people of the world to notice them. Notice their hunger, their sadness, their desperation, their bare feet, their sickness. Their faces, all colours under the shade of grimy brown, drew and held my attention. I had to drag myself angrily away, as the Ambassador was getting impatient at my side. This was more than I could bear. I dreaded the rest of tonight.

As we walked on, each deep in thought, the leaves began to whip up, whirling around our feet, though there was no wind at all. Chairs and a long wooden table, worn and weathered with age, floated silently down through the canopy.

Pale figures dressed in expensive clothes and baring perfect white teeth followed them, coming effortlessly down like snowflakes, to land seated in the chairs. This scene was so different to the one I had just witnessed.

They began to whisper amongst themselves and the Ambassador signalled for me to stay motionless and watch. The people talked calmly together, every now and then glancing suspiciously around them through narrowed, evil eyes. Their faces contained no feeling, only an inhuman like coldness.

I watched the Ambassador step coolly into their midst and talk silently with them, gesturing over to me. I felt their greedy, selfish and cunning eyes turn to me and I glared defiantly back. I knew who these people were. I had encountered their type many times before. They were the sort of guys I campaigned against on a daily basis.

These people were right at the top of all evil doings. They lived a life of luxury, hidden behind their multi-millionaire statuses, all the while taking advantage of the most poor and vulnerable people on the planet. They had no heart and they cared only about themselves. They caused those children’s fate, and they never got caught.

A penny for your thoughts?

Was it as good as the first part? Better? Worse? Would you like to read more? Please give me your honest opinions, people. Are you writing a novel? Can we talk about your writing dreams, hopes and aspirations? Do you like the style I write in? What about the content? Let me know by dropping me a comment! 

Okay, see you all later!

Gracie

P.S Thanks to everyone who took the time to write something nice about my last part of the novel, it means a lot for you guys to like it. I appreciate it so much. Xxxx

Mental Health Awareness Week: My Thoughts + Why We Need You!

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Mental Health Awareness Week: the opportunity to make a real difference. Two amazing bloggers, Arya and Shruti from The Indian Avaaz have come up with an inspiring idea to spread the word about mental health related issues. And guess what?! They’ve asked me to help them!

We bloggers are privileged to have a voice, a chance to speak out against important things, to show that we care.

In the girls’ plan, you have to write a post about Mental Health Awareness Week and then ask two other bloggers to join you in the fight by writing their own post and inviting even more bloggers to get involved. It’s a bit like a tag with an awesome twist!

I would like to share something of how I feel about Mental Health issues. If you have any experience of it yourself and think I have got things wrong, please do not judge. It is difficult for me to write about something I have limited understanding of and I’ve done my best. If you have opinions, please do feel free to contact me through the comments to add your thoughts.

Here goes:

I believe that mental health comes as a result of our broken and fractured modern society.

We are all a part of humanity and although we are diverse, we are more similar than we may think. We have the potential to learn to live together and help each other. If we make the choice to work as one and try to fix the problems and issues that plague society, we could eliminate mental health forever.

You’d always have someone to talk to, someone who really cared. We’d all be happier, more content and surrounded by love and support, if people thought about what was best for their wider community and not just themselves. This really could happen, I have faith in the human spirit to make it work.

We need to start trusting and including, not labeling and discriminating. This is not always easy and there aren’t always simple answers, but we must try, for the sake of our fellow human beings.

One of the things that Arya and Shruti asked me, and all the bloggers after me, to do is list some helplines and support networks for people reading this who do suffer with a ‘mental health problem’ (not a label, guys.) Please don’t give up hope, there are so many people willing to lend you a hand of friendship.

Childline, this one is for young people to open up to a trustworthy and kind adult about things they feel the need to talk about. They have a big focus on mental health. This agency does incredible work.

I don’t really know of any other helplines, but I do know that there are many inspiring members of this blogging community who are willing to chat about, and share advice on, their experiences of mental health and all the issues that surround it. Although I am by absolutely no means an expert, if you wish to open up please leave a comment and I’ll certainly be willing to listen!

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Now, I need to ask some of you guys to join me in this fight. The aim of this is to get as many people blogging about mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week (ends on Sunday) so I am going to up the game and invite a load of you to write a post and raise awareness. Even if your name isn’t on my list, please please please get involved! You’re contributing to a better world.

Ok, I request the following people to join in the battle against mental health all over the earth:

Thoughts In Life

Elsie L.M.C

May

Mintiefreshie

Rainbow Girl

The Be-you-tiful Gal

Lonelymeme

Cheila

Adoma

Lexie

Loren

Guys, feel no pressure to do this, but do remember that is an amazing opportunity to make a difference and use your voice to help others. Keep sharing and keep spreading the word. Note: If you are going to do this, it should preferably be done before Sunday, the end of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017.

See y’all later!

Gracie

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Introducing A Light In The Darkness: My New Novel

Hello People!

There comes a time in a writer’s life when they know that they are ready to take on something bigger. When they know that they have an idea that is deserving of a whole novel, not just a short story. A time when you know that your inspiration won’t run out suddenly, leaving you in frustrated fits of bitter writer’s block.

My time has come. That sounded so dramatic. 

This time I know​ I will succeed. So did that. 

So, I would like to introduce you to my novel: Light In The Darkness.

Basically, the whole idea is to use people to symbolise the battle between Light and Darkness. The storyline/plot sort of takes place inside a metaphor, if you get what I mean. Yup, complicated.

Anyhow, here is a brief overview:

Faith White wants to change the world. Witty and smart, she is an active campaigner for human rights all over the planet. She is internationally recognised as one of the youngest and most talented activists in the world.

But however much she thinks she may know, there are many things that will shock her. When she goes on a team building holiday/camping trip with her friends and fellow wannabe change-makers, she certainly doesn’t expect to be  shown a whole new world by a strange guy who seems to know a surprising amount about her, and her future. Suddenly she is stepping out of the light she has always known and into the realms where darkness rules. What truths will she discover lurking there? 

I’m better at writing actual stories than descriptions, as you’ve probably guessed. Nope, definitely guessed. Proven, in fact.

So please don’t judge. Please?

Now, I hope you’re intrigued ’cause I have a real treat for you guys coming right up. I’m actually really excited about this. I really want to know what you all think.

Here is an exclusive scene from Gracie Chick’s  brand spanking new novel, I hope you enjoy it! Hint: There’s a BIG twist at the end so keep reading on, and on, and on, and on. Ok, here goes:

You’re not the first kid to want to change the world.” he muttered “Really?” I asked, conversationally. “Really.” he seemed to stare straight past me, his amber eyes glowing in the gloom beyond the dimly lit campfire circle.

I glanced around coolly, fighting to keep my calm and sarcastic demeanour whilst this unnervingly smart and perhaps a little too ‘deadly serious’ stranger told me about my own life and future.

I stuck up my nose and stared right back at his face. “I didn’t know that.” I said loudly, half hoping that someone would come to my rescue. “Come to think of it, I guess Superman probably did when he was fourteen too.”

The guy gritted his teeth. “Look girl, I don’t think you get what I’m saying. Let me show you something.”

Before I could abruptly object, he had seized my hand and was yanking me away from the light and safety of the camp and away into the darkness of the forest.

His hair was black and thick and I could see the moonlight glinting on it as he dragged me forcefully along behind him. I used my free hand to try and release his grip. It was no use. He stopped and turned to hiss angrily at me. He sighed in frustration. “I’m trying to help you!” he exclaimed. “How!?” I stamped my foot in annoyance. “You’ve kidnapped me,  lost me in a woodland at midnight, my friends​ have no idea where I am, I have no idea who you are or where you’re taking me.” My voice rose into a panicky sort of screech.

He seemed to soften suddenly and his firm grasp on my hand loosened. “I promise that no harm will befall you,” he whispered gently “but you have to trust me. Now, do you want to come with me or not?”

I was shaking all over as I considered my options. I was sure he’d leave me here if I didn’t agree to go with him, but perhaps he’d lead me into an even greater danger? Then, he did promise, didn’t he? Do I trust him?

Finally I looked up at his haunting face. “Ok,” I regained my composure and swallowed hard. “Let’s go.” My voice was steely and cold. “I don’t know why I’m trusting you, but it seems I have no other choice.”

“Good.” he turned briskly away and headed off into the shadows. “Wait!” I stumbled after him, arms stretched tentatively out in front of me like a deluded zombie. “Your eyes will adjust.” he said shortly, with stopping nor turning around.

“Actually,” he stood still suddenly and spun round, his eyes burning into me. “you’ll need to change out of those clothes.” “What!?” I looked down at my white skinny jeans and pale grey hoodie in disbelief. My light blue converse glowed comfortingly in the moonlight. “Trust me.” he snapped. “Alright! Alright!” I growled back before disappearing into the dense thorny shrubbery that crept along the forest floor.

I pulled off my shirt, wondering what I was supposed to change into, when a long, black garment came flying through the air and landed softly on the ground before me.

I picked it up, it was smooth and stretchy and smelt like musty leaves. I slipped it on and it clung to my body like heavy, dark shadow, cold and damp.

“Hurry up.” he appeared beside me, making me jump. “May I ask a question?” I said hesitantly. “Go ahead.” he kept walking, silent as a wolf in its wilderness. “Where are we going and why?” “Two questions, if I’m not mistaken.” he seemed to find himself amusing. “You said you’d answer and I’m waiting.” I stood up for myself like I knew how, in my fiercest​ and most commanding tone.

“We are going to the realms of darkness.” he said simply. “Ha! Now I know you’re crazy.” I scoffed, starting to feel crazy myself. He looked at me unblinkingly. “No. I’m not. We are going there.” “Not possible.” I laughed uneasily, trying to reassure myself. “There’s no such place.”

“You’d be surprised.” he muttered. I was growing more anxious by the minute and suddenly burst out with a torrent of words that even I was slightly taken aback by. “Look, I don’t care who you think you are, you must explain yourself before we go any further. It is completely and utterly unfair of you to do all this without any explanation. I won’t continue unless you tell me who you are, where we’re really going, why you took me, how you know so much about me and why you’re so totally arrogant and rude and weird.”

He sighed and smiled ruefully. When he spoke there was a hint of sadness in his melodious voice. “It’s difficult. You’ll never believe me. It’s easier for you to see it with your own eyes first.”

“Please?” I replied softly, sinking down onto my knees amongst the leaves. He paused. “Ok,” he answered “but we must keep moving to arrive before morning.”

“Go ahead then.” I wearily rose back to my feet.

“Every now and then, throughout the history of time, there is a child who wants to change the world, make a difference, save the people. The believe they are well equipped, strong, able and capable.” the boy began his story, gliding across the leafy ground with hardly a rustle.

“Your ways are all the same. So hopeful, so optimistic, so sure.” he emphasised the last word, almost spitefully. “There are two sides to this world, though both tend to merge and hide within each other until it becomes impossible to distinguish the truth from the fakes and frauds. Unless you know where to look, of course.” he grinned at me as if there was something I didn’t know. I reached up to finger my hair nervously.

I almost screamed. It was jet black. “What is happening to me? I was blonde. I AM blonde.” I tried to control my confused anger. “Shhh!” he soothed “Listen to the story.”

“The sides have names: Dark and Light, Good and Evil.” “I know.” I told him. “ I fight for the Good and Light. That’s what I do. I try to be A Light In The Darkness.”

“You all say that.” he shrugged. “How do you know?” I asked. A faraway look came into his bright and alert eyes. “I know you all.” he whispered. “All of you. It is my job, as the Dark side’s ambassador to show you the truth, to show you the enemy. Because how can you fight us when you don’t know anything about us?”

And with that he bowed low, his shining hair brushing the floor. “Welcome to the realms of darkness, Faith.”

I screamed.  

Da da da!!! The drama! Even I’m getting scared and I know what happens next!

 Did you enjoy that? What did you think of the idea? Any feedback is absolutely welcome and appreciated. Would you like to read more snippets and scenes? Please let me know. Does anyone else have any novel-ish news to share so that we can compare notes and experiences? 

See you all later!

Gracie

 

 

 

 

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword (Writing Competition Results!!!)

Hey Everyone!

As I’m sure you all know, a while ago I launched a writing competition to demonstrate the power of young people’s words. Now, the results are in and the winning pieces are absolutely incredible. I have received an overwhelming number of amazing stories and poems and I like to profusely thank everyone that entered.

‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ is a well known saying, but I want to make sure that people fully understand it. Youth have the potential to change the world, but instead of doing it through fighting and violence, feelings can be expressed through writing.

Without further ado, I present the winner’s entries with my comments. By the way, this is going to be one long post!

First up we have two Highly Commendable Entries. Number one goes to Mukta @ Born Free. Her writing was really descriptive and I thought the whole idea was lovely. It conveyed a great message too.

Before Your Run Ends

All I heard was the steady thudding of my two feet, the rhythmic beat in which they were touching the ground and lifting among all the others. Perspiration slowly, and nevertheless gently trickled down my forehead, and my knees felt as though they were cracking every time they bent, slowly edging towards snapping into two completely. But the feeling was not of extreme wetness and fatigue, it was of ecstasy. It was pure bliss.

I held my steady, seemingly eternal and never-ending rhythmic pace. I had covered the distance of six kilometers, without once stopping, except for that tragic moment when I realized that my shoelaces had come undone.

And that once when my throat got so dry that I felt it would rip itself apart of intense thirst. My eyes were fixed straight ahead, searching for a goal that I couldn’t see but knew existed. The finish line was far away, but I was aware that there was no way I could reach it if I didn’t keep going.

I shut my eyes, still running, and smiled. I smiled thinking of all the distance I had left to cover and joy that I was yet to feel.
Then I realized that everyone around me was walking. A man in their lot caught my eye, geared with the most magnificent shoes I had ever seen and professional clothing designed for running especially. But he was walking.

He was walking in the most sluggish way, gasping and panting and his wiping sweat off. After he had rubbed his forehead to his content, he just whipped his hand through the air, intending to get riddance from all that wonderful perspiration. ‘Poor sweat…’ I sighed inwardly as I slowly overtook him. And then I heard a sudden sound behind me, emerging from the footsteps of the man I had just crossed. He overtook me, ran as though he were in a race, and then stopped again.
How agitating.

I shook my head and continued, because I knew my marathon was mine. I wasn’t racing anybody. I was running for my happiness and wasn’t trying to prove my worth to anyone but myself. But when I overtook him for the second time, and the third, he did the same thing. That’s when I lost it.

Suddenly, I began feeling very competitive. I wanted to reach the finish before he did, and so my eyes stayed fixed on him instead of my goal. I raised my pace whenever he did, ran fast when he started to walk, and shot him glares whenever he tried to overtake me.

But doing all this was licking up my energy. At last, I was forced to stop running. I was obliged to let go of my pace. My knees were hurting terribly and my head felt very, very heavy. So I walked, walked until I crossed the end line, after which a medal was hastily shoved around my neck. I collapsed on a nearby bench, enraged at myself for what I had done.

The run hadn’t been satisfying in the least. I had let ego take over my senses, resulting in the painful fact that I had tried to get ahead of someone, to stay in the lead, but when I thought of it, how had it helped me at all? It had resulted in me becoming unstable, and that was nowhere close to a good thing.

And that taught me a lesson. There are people in the world like the guy I had seen, people who will try to overtake you on the roots of jealousy, but those ignorant little nincompoops are no reason for you to leave your track. Your life is your road, and you must run it in your own pace. Never try to run faster just because someone is ahead of you, because everyone has their own capabilities and their own speed.

And the only reason for you to run at all is for the happiness you find in it. People may think of their life as a race, but that is a universal lie. Run in the speed you find worthy of running in and in the clothes you find comfortable, because after all…

Life is a road
Full of curves and bends,
You must give it your best
Before your run ends.

Second Highly Commendable Entry Award goes to May @ Forever And Everly. Her poem was just so beautiful and powerful. It was a unique and unusual approach. She is totally deserving and a wonderful writer!

thousand-kind love already aflame

 

dancing around words you’ll never say,
skidding your fingers across my face.
you cup my chin,
you caress my hair,
you show me how you feel
instead of telling me.

i kept a flower in my room,
the one you tucked into my hair,
telling me how it was beautiful,
my hair was beautiful,
but never once saying that i was beautiful.

a thousand words i said to you,
only ten said back to me.
a thousand times i told you,
zero you told me.
a thousand thoughts haunting me every night,
a thousand smells reminding me of you,
a thousand feelings and dreams of this or that, this and that,
but never did you have a thousand of
the same.

you always had less.
you were always less.
but i did not have more.
i was not always more.

i was simply
waiting,
hoping,
aching
for you to light the fire.
but sparks never flew,
flames didn’t catch,
the air never grew
hot.

and so i stand here today,
wondering what could’ve been,
what might’ve been,
what should’ve been,
tracing a pattern of love across my own face,
and telling myself
a thousand things.

i may have shattered,
but i am not battered.

let me have a thousand thoughts,
while you have none.
it only shows how
you
could not light the fire
that was already

aflame.

= how to trace a pattern of love across your own face when love isn’t there

don’t burn the flower that was so beautiful.

Now, we move onto third place. It goes to Lenna @ Sugar Dusted Pages. Her poem was simple and short, but each word just felt so right! It was all about magic and that’s just how it made me feel: magical. It seemed open to anyone’s interpretation and yet it was so defined and elegant.

Real Magic
In stories where raven dust floats on the wind
And spells grant glass wishes and love always wins
The firmament falls and the mist covers me
This magic is one that I only can see.

Second place had to go to Amaris @ Elletrik Writing!! The quality here is just so evident. It is absolutely stunning. The story-telling is magnificent, the ending is perfect. It conjures up a beautiful and emotion filled picture in my mind, forces me to savour each word. From beginning to end, this captivating story had me hooked.

 

Until The Streetlight Turns On

When the front door opened, it’s like walking out of the doctor’s office, or peeling the sticky paper wrapper off of a lollipop. The feeling of released happiness always hung in the air whenever he opened the front door and said “Go outside to play”. And as she dashed out the door, her dad would never fail to call out “Come back home when the streetlight on the corner turns on!” As her skinny legs raced down the cracked sidewalk, Jace would nod to herself. When the sky got dark, the big light on the tar-smeared pole would glow with hazy yellow light, and that was when she knew to go back home.

Jace’s dingy shoes made the tall grass whisper as she walked into the neighbor kids’ yard where she always played with them. She had lots of shoes. Some were sparkly, but her favorites were the ones that were ripped up and stained. Not knowing exactly why, she always chose the shoes with dirty laces. Maybe because the clean shoes didn’t feel right on her feet. Maybe because she never felt as brand-new as the sparkly shoes.

Here in this backyard was where Jace was happiest. Here, she and the three neighbor kids would smear mud on their faces for war paint and two kids would go in the creaky old play fort and be cowboys with stout twigs for guns, and the other two would storm the fort with their best Indian war cries and makeshift bows and arrows that didn’t shoot far. Jace would always play an Indian.

Eventually they would get tired of screaming warfare and sometimes they would make a peace treaty with the cowboys. The Indians would make food and the cowboys would hunt and keep the lions away from the fort.

Armed with brightly-colored sand buckets, Jace and the neighborhood girl Abby would go out foraging for food. Sometimes they stripped stalks from budding bamboo to pound up into green wheat. Other times they would find big bunches of plump yet small sun-ripened berries burdening the branches of some vine or miniature tree. When they found these treasures, the two small girls would fill their buckets with berries and take them back to the fort to mash-up with large rocks to make medicine and jam.

Occasionally, the cowboy scout would spot smoke from hostile Indian campfires in the next neighbor’s yard. Even though Jace tried to convince them that the smoke was from the neighbor’s afternoon cigarette, the cowboys would insist on fleeing the fort and making the arduous trek across the yard to dig defending trenches in the soft dirt in the shade of the fence. After the trenches were dug, the cowboys and Indians would await the attack, armed with sticks and various trowels and spades found in the garden. As the sun got hotter and the kids got sweatier, the Indians would usually decide to attack the cowboys and get it over with. After much dispute about who won the stick-to-stick combat, the battle would end with a truce and the Indians and cowboys sitting peaceably on the back porch eating apples dripping with condensation in the summer heat.

Eventually, after doodling rainbows on the sidewalks with chalk or racing down the streets on battered bikes, the sun would drop behind the rooftops, taking the heat with it and leaving only humidity that clung to skin. That was when the streetlight turned on, beckoning for Jace to come home. While swatting at mosquitoes and inspecting new rips on her faded jeans, Jace would trudge home, sweaty hair clinging to her little face, tired but happy.

To Jace, the streetlight pole seemed to get shorter every year and the light got dimmer. The Indian and cowboy wars were exchanged for a shiny Playstation and the apples for soda pop and Cheetos. However, the neighborhood kids could still never decide on who exactly won the Nintendo wars, and Jace always walked in grimy shoes with a shining streetlight beaconing her home at dusk.

Until one night, when Jace walked out of the neighbor’s house with an almost empty soda can in her hand, and noticed that it was dark, just like every other night. But the streetlight wasn’t on, unlike every other night. With a glance at the dead lightbulb atop the pole, and a remembrance of the growing tension at home, Jace turned down a different street than she had the years before and did not go home that night, or any night in the following year.

The heap of shiny shoes underneath Jace’s bed became dingy as dust gathered on them, just like the despair began to blanket the minds of Jace’s parents. Every night, her dad would open the door to let the dog out, and whenever he said “Go outside to play”, her mom would quietly cry at the painfully familiar words. But soon her dad began to stop repeating the phrase, until everything that reminded him of his little girl was silent.

Dirty shoes tread on the uneven sidewalk. An ancient toad croaked accusingly. The parched grass whispered uncertainly. An old fort smeared with faded berry stains creaked. A front door opened, mingling inside light with outside twilight.

“Dad?”

A young female voice asked hesitantly as Jace stood in the doorway, a streetlight gleaming brightly over her shoulder.

The decision of first place was so hard for me. It tore at my soul and nagged at my mind, but the piece that I have chosen is, I know, the right choice. So, I give you the winning poem by Aliuphigh @ Note To My Sanity!!!

When you love to write, the most noble thing you can do is use your passion to try and make a difference, a change. Aliuphigh is doing just that and I commend her for it, I often try to do the same on this blog. So I present her inspired and inspiring poem:

 

Alone

I know what it’s like to be at home, through a little window, watching all of those you know, puttin’ on a show with their happy smiles and their Facebook dials

flaunting their accessorized styles.

It’s not a bad thing, nor was I jealous.

The thing is, I wasn’t even like them.

I wasn’t into bollywood or fanning over made up halalywood

I didn’t care about tv shows of characters that only showed of temporary love

a love that I never wanted for myself.

I felt like sweet water in the dead sea. Never able to mix in, but water all the same.

Maybe it was really me. who was the problem in my dreams

maybe it was me who crushed all my fantasies.

I couldn’t really ever tell why I never got along.

besides the fact that friendship relied on currencies.

I didn’t put a price on friendship.

But that didn’t mean I was free.
and,
in the end, I’m happy to be me.

patiently waiting
for the right company.

Congratulations to everyone that was a winner, that’s all the participants as far as I’m concerned. Much appreciated, guys!!! Please leave a comment with your feedback on these magnificent pieces.

See ya….

Gracie