2011 in four words

This has been a hashtag on twitter today #2011in4words

Poorly, pregnant, and penalised.

That is my response!

Baby's Heartbeat

During my appointment with Midwife today, I heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time.
It was amazing! I didn't stop smiling all day! 

I was told all my test results came back as positive and negative in the right places. 
I am a lot happier with my appointment this time.

All seems to be going well.

Felt first flutter

I felt my baby for the first time.

I was laid in bed in the early hours of Christmas Eve / Christmas Day and I felt that butterfly feeling.
I laid there in silence, not daring to move, or even breathe, in case I disturbed it! *laughs*

Leaking Intellect (An Alphabet Story)

"Another day, another dollar". What a stupid mantra, I say looking at the aged animation on the wall.
Bloody stupid job, I despised the job, I could feel my I.Q. lower each day.
"Customer service: there is no traffic jam on the extra mile"
Do they really expect people to buy in to this crap?
Easy money is how my colleagues describe this job.
Few of them knew the real reason I'm here.
Getting in to position and setting up, simple enough, but I'm annoyed that I have to be here early to do this.
Here I am, ten minutes before my shift officially starts, hunting for a chair and loading programs.
I can't believe that I have to skip my last smoke for four hours to come in and play musical chairs, snatching one whilst someone's away.
Joke! That's what it is. A fecking joke.
Keeping a simple thing like a chair should be easier, surely you'd notice someone leave with one? So why were there less chairs then desks?

Looking at the clock in the corner of my monitor, I feel my heart sink a little deeper.
My ears tingle and pop, I wonder if its my sanity or simply my intellect leaking out.
Normally, I'm fairly laid back, pretty chilled, but this place just raises my blood pressure.
Ok here goes, 10 o'clock, "good morning, you are speaking to James, how may I help?"
Pausing for the response, I'm already gone, auto-pilot has taken over.
Questions and demands bat between us like a ball.
Relief as the dead tone rings in my ear, although it lasts milliseconds before being replaced by the beep of an incoming call.
Sincerity, as false and sugary as a McDonald's donut, scrapes my throat as it's forced out.
Tortuously I take call after excruciating call, feeling like a mother of a newborn on maternity leave. I want to stand up and scream "G*ddamn it. I need an intelligent conversation!"
Uninterestedly the hours tick by. My ears leaking my brains.
Various faces around me all display the same tell tale, defeated smiles.
Wondering how the ones that are genuinely smiling do it, perplexes me, I must ask.
Xoanon and other perverse objet d’art clutter desks.
Youth turns into old age seamlessly.
Zapping energy and intelligence in equal measure.

Results are in...

I received my letter from the hospital today, following last weeks' scan and blood tests.
My baby has an estimated individual risk of 1 in 65716.
Very low, and weirdly specific!

Obviously, I am pleased with the results, but it did make me question whether I should have had the test in the first place. I don't feel I would have changed anything because of the result. So was it worth having?

I guess because it was not an intrusive test, I had nothing to lose, but if it came back I needed further testing, would I have risked the (minimal) chance of miscarriage? 
But hindsight is a great thing, if the test results had been different, would I even be having this thought process.

Suicide is NOT selfish

I really am pissed off with the 'suicide is selfish' train of thought.

Really? How many of you would even know if your so called friends were considering it?
And if you did, then what?

It is not a selfish, nor brave act, but it does take strength. And not just literally.

There is a great video on the website Ruby Wax has recently launched, http://www.blackdogtribe.com about shame. A freebie many sufferers of mental health problems get thrown in. 

I hope that people who say things like 'suicide is selfish' and 's/he could have just got help' never have to understand how difficult mental health issues are. When you feel like you don't have anything to live for it is a challenge to just make it through the day. Sometimes fighting those thoughts takes too much effort and strength. 

This isn't intended as a 'I know all about people's state of minds' post, it's just a rant, a personal one. 
Many sufferers of mental health issues say each bout is different, each day can be different. I don't know my own demons well enough to consider them a battle won, let alone comment on anyone elses.

But having been at a stage where I wanted to take my own life, I know that every day is a struggle for some. Someone who attempts to take their own life because they don't feel they live up to the world's expectations of them, or even just their own, and is 'saved' by whatever reason, is not going to be helped by being told they are selfish. Throwing that in is like adding petrol to a burning fire.

And do you know what? It isn't always that easy to pick up the phone to talk to stranger, sometimes what you really need is a friend. 

So if I ring you, as a friend, feeling suicidal, I really hope you won't tell me I am selfish...

RIP Gary Speed

I was saddened today to hear of the passing of a true footballing hero, Gary Speed.

As a Leeds player he was instrumental in the First Division Champions title.
He played with passion and gave 100% regardless of which team he played for. 

I am pleased that my timeline on twitter is full of great memories and condolences. I know how easy some people find these times to try to be 'funny' or just post obnoxious messages, so thank you. 
It does show how well respected Speed was.

I was fortunate enough to meet Gary on several occasions and he was always a true gentleman. 
I am truly honoured to have met him and humbled to have been in his company.

I don't know why Gary lost his life, nor do I think it is for anyone to speculate. 
When someone takes their life, it's tragic for all those affected.

This document:

Twitter and social media guidelines for discussing suicide

was tweeted by Darren @MyLifeInLeeds earlier.

It makes interesting reading and I think most of it should be used in every day life.


Suicide is not a crime in the UK.  

People do not 'commit suicide'; they take their own lives.


My thoughts are with his family and friends at this terrible time. 

RIP Gary x


Seeing baby for first time

Today I had my first pregnancy scan. I finally got to see my baby for the first time.
My friend was able to come with me, and I was glad. I am not sure I would have contained my emotions otherwise!

I have a cold and keep coughing and sneezing. This in itself is no major problem, but I needed to drink a litre of water and keep it there for at least an hour before my scan! I kept imagining all sorts of comedy errors. F (my great friend) also did her best to create one by making me laugh. 

I was really nervous, although excited to see the baby for the first time. We got into the suite and the sonographer quickly got down to business. No sooner than I had lied back, she pointed to the screen and said 'there's the baby's heartbeat'. 

She told me that she needed to get some measurements then would show me. I was having a combined screening test, which is the usual dating scan plus measuring the nuchal fold for Downs syndrome and other problems. She was quiet for some time, then asked me to cough in the hope of the baby moving, because she could not get the nuchal fold measurement. 
Unfortunately, she could not get it. She asked me to go to the toilet and remove some of the fluid, but not all. Again she went back to trying. It was very painful, due to my weight, she had to push hard to get measurement. Still baby was playing shy or just awkward. 

She asked me to wait outside whilst she saw the next patient. Outside I started to panic something was wrong. If F wasn't there I would probably have run!  

I went back in and after some more digging around, the sonographer finally got it.

And then she turned the screen to me and my friend. She pointed out the arms, legs, etc. To be honest, I was not really listening, I was feeling quite tender and painful. She told us everything is normal and matched my dates exactly. 

I had some bloods taken, saw another doctor, and made more appointments. It has been quite a challenging, long day!

But here s/he is...

Game of War (An Alphabet Story)

"Armed. Locked, loaded, and ready to roll."
"Brilliant" I mu
ttered, going into a war zone with an idiot!
"Captain, there's movement"
Doug, my right hand man, called me over.
Eye in position, I could see the target through the lens.
"Fugitive appears to be armed", Doug advised.

Glaringly obvious, I presumed she would be.
Highly unlikely she would lead us to her and not be prepared for the chaos that would ensue.
I called the men in, "This is not a training exercise, target is armed, shoot to k..."
Jingling to life, a mobile phone with the latest annoying animal soundtrack, interrupted my speech.
Kneeling by the ammunition was the idiot from earlier, he looked at the screen and catching my eye, said "women" with a wink.
Losing my composure, "turn that damn thing off. Now!" I snapped.
Managing a military operation requires skill, determination and a strong command.
"Now!" I demanded as the bloody thing screeched again.
Over at the window at the window, something caught Doug's eye.
Pausing, he positioned the zoom on the target.
Questioning Doug was something I learnt not to do; if it was important, he let you know.
Rallying the rest of the men, I advised them  to be prepared, be ready to fire.
Still looking, Doug mumbled to me this was starting to look like a suicide mission.
"Target has four armed guards, marking the perimeter, six inside and enough ammo to take down James Bond!"
Unusual for Doug to be so animated, he was the more studious of the group, a genius with technology but lacking in social skills.
Vast amounts of ammunition was available to us too.
Wondering what had riled Doug, I swapped positions with him so I was looking at the target
Xerosis took hold of my eyes and mouth, as I stood aghast at the scale of her preparation.
You know what to do men. Take her down. Fire at will...”
Zac. Zac, it’s time to come in now.” Mother shouted, ending today’s games.

Sad and lonely

My friend who has agreed to be my birthing partner has had a bad time recently and needs to attend to some family matters. I am grateful for all she has done, especially as she has a lot going on. However, it does mean she can't come to my first pregnancy scan with me.

I told my support worker and she offered to come. I told her I will be fine, I had better get used to doing things alone. It really makes me feel sad and alone, or rather it reminds me. If I can't get a friend to go with me, then I sure as hell aren't taking a mental health worker! 

I'm scared senseless to be honest, but I have got an appointment with a consultant after, so maybe able to get some helpful hints to deal with this bloody backache. 

I had a row with some silly worker at DWP. Again. Got so stressed I ended up throwing up. Several times. Went to clean it up, added a bit more. Ended up bleaching my carpet! Now the smell of bleach is making me feel sick. Yay! Great day.

Really really shitty day

I had a really shitty day yesterday. 

I went to Mind in the morning for a Mindfulness and Meditation course and then to therapy in the afternoon. I just ended up wound up. 

I got a message on Facebook that everyone seems to know I'm pregnant now. I am really annoyed as I didn't want to tell some people and ended up feeling forced in to it. 

I text my brother to tell him, I don't want him to find out from seeing someone post a message about it on a social networking site. 

I feel rubbish physically, my back is killing, I'm being sick. I really am not blooming. 
I was so fed up and upset I cried for about 3 hours, full on wailing sobs. Got myself even more worked up as I couldn't even cry about it without throwing up.

Think just everything got to me. Oh and I ended up smoking 10 cigarettes, so that made me feel even more crap. I don't think I could feel any worse... 

Lil Monster?

Is having a Midwife appointment on Halloween a premonition or just coincidence?

This was my second pregnancy appointment with the Midwife team, although my first proper assessment appointment. I was warned on Netmums to be be prepared to be barraged by a million questions.

The Midwife who made the appointment didn't book me in at her end, just on my paperwork. So after 30 minute wait, I end up with her assistant asking me questions  and  form filling. 

She asked me if I'd decided which type of scan I wanted, I said no as I had some questions, she just cut me off saying she needed to know then. I said well if you could just answer my questions...
She snapped at me and said didn't I read the book? I said yes but a) my heads all over the place and b) I have mental health issues that affect my memory and concentration.
Her response, 'well can't you talk it through with baby dad?' 
Well no actually, because he's a **** and I doubt he could answer my questions anyway.

Midwife took blood pressure twice because it was raised. Really?! 
I hate having my blood pressure taken, I would rather give blood. I just don't like that feeling when it is really tight around your arm. I'd never make a good junkie.

I had lots of bloods taken. I asked what they were testing for again, again didn't you read that bit of the book?!

I was told I was been referred to a consultant because of my back problems and that it might affect whether I can carry to term or have an epidural.

I met a friend afterwards and if it hadn't been for her, I would have come home and cried! I felt that crap.

My GP checked my blood pressure this morning, perfectly fine, thank you.


I was having a pretty miserable morning today. 
Insomnia mixed with medical mishaps.
I felt really stressed out and wanted to just cry.

I posted this on Facebook yesterday...

And this morning I received a text from a great friend asking to meet up. She has been a very good friend to me, even at times I haven't deserved it. I am rubbish at keeping in touch with people. It's not that I don't want to, it is just that I forget to contact them!
I know that sounds weak, but in this last couple of weeks alone, I have promised to:
  • call my brother back (still not done); 
  • add a note to my To Do list to call a friend last Monday (saw her by chance at the weekend)
  • missed a call from my step-father, who I have seen since but didn't think to ask why he called...

So I meet up with my friend, feeling pretty crappy, and she ends up making me smile and laugh so easily. And she bought me a really fab gift set from Lush, all wrapped up in a beautiful head scarf.

She added one of these as it was Halloween, but I love skulls anyway

 The parcel was wrapped up in a head scarf, (not this one) which was shaped into a shoulder bag.
In the package of goodies was a card that showed the various ways of re-tying the scarf.

Phone, text or email a friend now, just to say 'Hi, I am thinking of you'. 
You will both be better for it.

'Scuse me but did you just say...?

Have you ever wanted to join in a conversation, to but in to someone else's conversation? I mean a strangers, not a friends. Just walk up and say something?

I am asking because there was a girl / young lady (late teens) on the bus behind me today, talking loudly in to her mobile. I am generally nosey, I admit, but she was talking loud enough for everyone to hear. Ironically asking her friend / sister not to talk too loudly about some secret mission or other.

Anyhows, she is talking away and suddenly squeals.
The next part of her conversation, the one side I heard, had my mind ticking over.

'Really you're getting one? (add excitable noise) I really wanted one blah blah blah'

But then, 'Are you getting a large one or a small one, 'cos small ones are easier to manipulate. If you get a big one, it won't be able to get upstairs; if you get a small one it will be able to get upstairs but won't be able to get back down again.'

I swear, I had to physically restrain myself from turning round and just looking at her, one eyebrow raised, 'Daleks?'

Beyond my Control: One Man's Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery & Beyond

Beyond my Control is one the most powerful heart wrenching stories I have been fortunate enough to read. Stuart shares his inner most thoughts with his readers. I truly felt honoured to be on his journey with him. 

He writes about childhood briefly, his struggle with anorexia nervosa, and starting and maintaining his stained glass business whilst experiencing 'peculiar sensations'.

My heart ached for him to find a diagnosis, for him to find peace, and a sign he was not losing his sanity.

McCallum's easy-going nature and humour are self-evident in the book, even through his frustration and depression, he writes with warmth and the ability to laugh at himself.

McCallum documents his journey into depression, although expected, clearly and emotionally with a candid honesty that is refreshing.

Stuart freely allows his feelings to show from his impatience and frustration at being unable to find a true diagnosis, through his scared and shameful reaction to his own behaviour, to his love for his beautiful wife and children.

McCallum writes in an almost apologetic tone for the majority of the book. He is ashamed and remorseful of his behaviour, although it was beyond his control.

My overwhelming reaction to the book is one of admiration for McCallum and his family, for being able to live this life and still be strong and loving. Stuart and Lisa, his wife, are both people with incredible strength and dignity.

I would definitely recommended this book to anyone who enjoys true life stories, memoirs, or who wants to learn more about what it is like to live with this disease.

It is a truly remarkable book, written by a remarkable gentleman, whom I wish good health and success. 

Shrink, baby, and meds

I had an appointment with my Psychiatrist today to discuss medication in pregnancy. There is no real information available on the effects of anti depressants in pregnancy, other than baby may suffer withdrawal symptoms for first couple of days.

I have decided to reduce medication in stages over the next couple of weeks and then stop. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. I keep thinking, I can always go back on them if needed.

I don't know how much of my mood is just hormonal.

Booking In Appointment

I had my pregnancy booking in appointment with Midwife this morning. 
She gave me a folder of maternity notes to read and complete. 

Due to my history of depression I was told my pregnancy is high risk.  
I was also told I was very overweight and should not be gaining any weight at all in the pregnancy. 
I am asked where I want to give birth, I said I hadn't really thought about it but LGI is closest hospital to me so I guess there. I am told I need to decide by my next appointment where I want to give birth and whether I want a water birth.

Funky Pigeon

http://www.funkypigeon.com has some really unique card and gift ideas that I think you will love. 

If you try it out they will give you 50% off all printed items in your first order. 

Just make sure you enter my Account Number on the Registration page. 

My account number is : 045243  

Virgin media ~ Free Installation

I am a current virgin media customer and if I refer any new customers, you will receive free installation worth £49.95 and I receive a £50 credit to my bill.

If you would like me to refer you, please let me know. 
Send me an email with:
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Many thanks

Today I'm excitable and pissed off

Today, I'm excitable and pissed off in equal measure.

I got some things for the baby, I know it's soon. I saw the post on Freecycle. I have no qualms about using second hand things. I find it strange that people can be so disapproving. Surely so long as it is clean and safe that is all that matters? 
I am starting to feel quite excited, but anxious still as I know it is really early.

Baby's Father still not being in touch. I expected better / more from him. 
Really disappointed. 

Here All Along: Looking for love everywhere, finally finding it was within me all Along by Lori Osterman

I have read quite a lot of excerpts from this book as it was being written; but they did not prepare me for the emotional impact this book would have on me! There were tears of despair, frustration, anger and laughter.

Here All Along is an inspirational story of one woman's fight for freedom, her desire to protect her children and finding the strength to believe in herself.

Here All Along catalogues the series of errors and difficulties that Lori faced as she fought for her freedom from two abusive relationships. The fight to stay sane, stay healthy for herself and her two children, and protect them all.

Lori is a truly amazing women, struggling for what she believes in, and for what is right and just.

The book is about hope, friendship, trust and love. Not in a chocolate box fairytale, but in a truly heart wrenching honest and brutal way.

The book is written with warmth and humour, even through some of the darkest days, I hope many people never have to suffer.

It draws you in, you warm to Lori straight away, as she describes her marriages and her desire to be loved, and you want her to fight the system, protecting herself and beautiful children, and ultimately win the fight that continues to plague this amazing family for years.

I guarantee you will flinch at some of the the book's harder to read parts, but laugh uncontrollably at others.

Either way, whether you wince, flinch, laugh, cry or quietly hear your heart break, you will be affected by this book.

The writing style and approach reminds me of Jodi Picoult. The way that you can hear the effects of the abuse ripple through the marriages, family and community.

Lori writes with truth and passion, and delivers a punch!

I hope this book inspires woman (who may or may not be in similar circumstances at some point in their lives) to continue to believe in themselves and not give up.

Please read it yourselves, buy it for every woman in your lives, mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and help highlight the struggle women face everyday and show people that there is strength out there.

A true story written by a true survivor and heroine. 

Read a sample and buy the book here


Another Dr's appointment & eBay

Now I am pregnant, I have been told to start taking calcium tablets, yet another new initiative from Depart for Health.

I have discovered eBay's baby category today! I have a feeling it will swallow a lot of my time and money over the coming weeks. I know people are really touchy about buying baby things before 12 weeks, but I tend to find that it is the older generation or ladies who have had problems in previous pregnancies. 
Me? Well, I am too excitable to wait and also as still on sick benefits, so I know I need to budget.

Baby thoughts and names...

My mind is already racing with what I need, how I am going to get and if I really need it.
I had a long discussion about baby names. I decide I want something unusual but not totally out there.

  • Banquo; 
  • Dante; 
  • Pi; 
  • Jorja Graceful; 
  • Summer Dream; 
  • Breeze Violet; 
  • Willow Lavendar; 
  • Tiger Lily Meadow; 
  • Bracken Eagle-eye; 
  • Briar Wolf; 
  • Blossom Lilac; 
  • Yarrow Lionheart; 
  • Dandelion Ray; 
  • Skye Bleu Aroma; 
  • Rainbow Storm; 
  • Star; 
  • Sunshine; 
  • Saffron; 
  • Luca;
  • Lucas;
  • Chief;
  • Archimedes;
  • Galileo;
  • Gianni;
  • Remedy;
  • Rogue Rage.
These are just some of the names that appeared today. Not all names listed even lasted the discussion but some are already favourites.

Hey, guess what?

I got the official Doctor's result today, it's positive.  
I am pregnant!

The lady that called me to give me the test result was rather rude and horrible. She wanted to book me an appointment to speak to a GP about my 'options, as these things are best dealt with as soon as possible'
I am fuming, how dare she?!

I have being trying to conceive since 2005 if she wanted to check my records. 

Granted things had changed a little but she had no idea.

Another test... Another Wait

Today I have a Doctor's appointment. 
I have been struggling with depression for a while, I have had it for so long, but lately I'm not doing too well.
I had a new medication introduced a while ago and we are due to discuss the withdrawal of the previous medications.

I'm feeling anxious as I go. I don't do well at these 'drop in' surgeries. It is always crowded with a long wait.
I go in to see Doctor, and he has received a letter from my psychiatrist, so he is already to discuss the staged withdrawal. I tell him that I think I am pregnant. He tells me that they do not usually do a pregnancy test until patients have two missed periods. I tell him I have been tracking my periods for years as was trying to conceive, so I know I am late and I have had a positive test. 

He tells me that he can do a test but we wont get the results till next week! Seriously, I can pee on a stick and get the result in 60 seconds, but the medical advances cannot tell me for four days! 

We discuss the medication, there is not enough evidence either way whether it is harmful to child, but I say I would rather not take anything if I am and he agrees this is the best course of action for the time being. We agree to stop the prior medication immediately and start a staged withdrawal of the new medication, and I'm given folic acid. I tell him, I will do another test today to confirm before I cancel medication. 

I went to pharmacy and get another test, take it and surprise, it's positive. Definitely no mistake, this is not a false positive then. 

I accidentally blurted out to the baby's father I was pregnant. His response was not great! I walked about, well stomped & stropped, for about half hour, then sat & cried for 5 mins. I text him to say sorry, wasn't quite the way I intended to do that but my head is all over the place too.

Pictures from OneGeekyGirl  and WeddingByColor

Big Fat Result!

I did a pregnancy test today. The minute whilst I wait feels like an eternity. 

A big fat positive, erm.. ok.. what now?
I have spent five years trying with my ex husband with no luck, and now I fall on by accident? I'm not even in a relationship.
Part of me wants to shout and let the world know, but part of me just wants to lie down and cry. Ironically enough curled up in the foetal position.
I have wanted this for so long, it seems a cruel trick to play on me. I can't help but think that it is a false positive. That I somehow had managed to get a faulty test.

I am currently at ACS (Acute Community Service) as I have been struggling with my depression and I am being baby sat for my own protection. I try to put the pregnancy test out of my mind (*laughs* as if it was going to be that easy) and go in. I ask to speak to my support worker, who has been a fantastic help in my time here. She worked with me during my last stay too, so I feel we have clicked. She immediately senses something is wrong and says she with reschedule her appointments about to see me soon. I assure her I am fine to wait, so there is no need but to give me a shout when she is free.

A while later she asks me if I am free to go for a chat. I tell her that I have done a pregnancy test and that I am feeling strange. I want to get excited but I am scared. We decide that the best thing to do is get a test when I visit the Doctor on Friday.

So I am faced with a nervous wait...

By the way, hoodie pictured is available at Zazzle.co.uk

The First Excellence by Donna Carrick

When I first started using Twitter, my main focus was promoting myself and my freelance work. I didn't expect to make great friends. 
Sporadic chats with other writers introduced me to a new world. A literal literary world, with discussions on style, prose and publishing. Although I often felt out of my depth when it came to fiction, I was welcomed into the fold quickly and the Carrick writing team of Donna and Alex helped me develop.
I often retweet authors notes, links and information. There is a kindred spirit in battling with the self-promo beast.
All that said, I wouldn't necessarily pick this particular book up if I was browsing in a book store. We all know the cliché of judging a book by it's cover, but I know I'm not alone in doing so.
The First Excellence doesn't leap out at me, there is nothing remarkable about it's cover design. To me it looked straight laced, stuffy even. I'm intrinsically drawn to covers with people, I think a draw from factual books.
Reading the synopsis didn't help either. I often read with a dictionary to hand. I have to know the meaning of the words. Would this book have too many Asian references, who I be too distracted looking up meanings to follow the story?
Previously Donna had written a Penny Serial, which I immensely enjoyed. Frequently pestering it's author for the latest instalment or some 'inside' news. But this was whole new genre.
Having downloaded the book from Smashwords, I read it with an open mind. I knew Donna and Alex extended their family to include an adopted child and part of me thought the story may be a touch voyeuristic, or sentimental.
The first time I started to read the book, it was already too late. I quickly read the first eight chapters, getting sucked into the story. The characters were believable, I wanted to share this journey with them. 
I struggled with the names, I wasn't sure how to pronounce them, so I 'Englishised' them. 
There were a few things I had to look up, Kindle integrates a dictionary into it's iPhone app. so this was easy to do without having to leave the story. Carrick writes the story with a western view, so the character Fa-ling explains a lot of key things as she and the book develop.
I don't want to give the plot away, but the separate stories intermingle in a beautifully crafted manner.
The last chapter, which feels like an add on as the story has evolved triumphantly, had me in tears. 
I admit I cry easier at books that films, but the other authors who have done so write tear jerking tales. These include Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, House Rules) and John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).

Remarkably researched, creatively and convincingly crafted, decidedly daring, extravagant experiences. 
I am so pleased I delved below the surface to read this story, it is truly gripping.
I cannot wait for the sequel and will no doubt be pestering Donna to keep writing.