Tag Archives: emotion

The One Star Review…..


So there it sat in all it’s horrific glory- a one star review on Amazon.com.

Well, to be fair, it had to happen one day. You’re never going to please everyone all of the time.

Then I re-read it…. and I re-read it again…. and then I burst into tears.

Ever since I first posted on this blog, way back in December 2013, I have been working on building my psychological resilience. Sharing the words that I write with people still scares me half to death. FACT! It’s a fear I’ve worked hard to overcome over the past six or seven years. To see my book baby described like that was heart breaking for me.

There are three ways that folk react when faced with an adverse situation. It’s known as the Cycle of Resilience. When faced with an adverse situation, folk might:

  • Erupt with anger
  • Implode with overwhelming emotions, go numb and then become unable to react.
  • Simply become upset about the situation.

Only option 3 promotes well-being. This is the approach taken by resilient people.  This is the approach I took. Options 1 and 2 lead to people playing the victim by blaming other people and to rejecting their usual coping mechanisms when faced with a difficult or challenging situation.

There have been numerous studies into psychological resilience and how to develop and sustain your own resilience. Long story short and  grossly simplified, there are four key factors to this:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and being capable of taking the steps necessary to follow through with them.
  • Confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • Communication and problem solving skills
  • The ability to manage strong impulses and feelings.


I walked away from the laptop until I had regained control of my emotions then calmly sat back down at the desk and re-read the review again, contemplating what to do.

The review in question was of Shattered Hearts and, to be truthful, it was vile. It was peppered with expletives. It was inaccurate in its description of the storyline. It misrepresented the book. It was offensive.

I slept on the issue then, the following morning, I reported it to Amazon. I did not request that it be removed. I merely reported it as being inappropriate and offensive due to the language used. If the review had been an honest reflection of the book I’d have left it where it was and taken the feedback on the chin.

Amazon removed it within a few hours. Whew!

But…. I know it was there. (I’ve no idea how many other people around the world read it but that’s not a point I dare contemplate for too long and I feel I should apologise if it offended anyone who had the misfortune to read it)

In all honesty it’s bothered my conscience that it was removed almost as much as it distressed me in the first instance when I read it. People are entitled to express their opinions  but it was the right thing to do  to report it to Amazon before it risked offending any prospective readers.

I’d be lying if I said that was an end to the matter. The whole thing has niggled for a few weeks now. It dented my self-confidence. It made me doubt my storytelling ability then I got it all back into perspective. I drew on my psychological resilience. I drew on my coping strategies.

I picked up my pen and went back to doing what I’d like to think I do quite well- I went back to writing and resumed work on Book Baby 6.





The Lasting Impact of One Word……one small word……Beast

I read an article the other day that was encouraging people to try creative writing to improve brain power. The exercise that the article suggested the reader complete was to list all the names you’ve ever been called- good or bad- then write about one.

This triggered a flood of memories.

There was Razzle Dazzle that my dad used to call me when I was wee.

There was 10cc that a neighbour called me the year I turned ten. My initials then were CC and he was a fan of that particular band.

With a name like Coral, there was the obvious Coral Reef and various other fishy, ocean themed attempts from time to time.

The name however that sent a torrent of painful memories through me; the name that chilled me to my very core even all these years down the line was Beast. The name the school bullies cursed me with.

My mind was suddenly overflowing with flashback memories from my school days. I could hear their feet thundering down the stairs in primary school as they chased me. I could see the faces of the people who taunted me. I could feel their breath on my neck as they yanked my hair from my head to see if I had 666 tattooed on my skull. I could hear their voices filling my head.

Over thirty years later these wounds still run deep and I doubt if some of them will ever be fully healed but one simple word, one name, opened a fair few of them back up.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you,” my mother used to council.

She was wrong.

For just shy of six years I endured the school bullies abuse, usually verbal but occasionally physical. I thought naively that when I moved up from primary school to secondary school that my daily torment would stop. I was sadly mistaken. In fact, for more than two years, it was worse as my primary school bullies now had a larger audience and swiftly recruited new blood.

I was almost fifteen before the last chants of “Beast” died away.

By then the damage had been done.

Years later I had the misfortune to encounter one of the boys I had been to school with. He came staggering out of a local pub with several drunken friends, recognised me as I walked down the street on my way home from work and, before I knew what was happening, they were all round me chanting “Beast. Beast. Beast” incessantly. Suddenly I was 12 years old again instead of the 22 that I was. Fortunately my bus came along, the driver recognised me and the ugliness of the situation and, despite it not being a “bus stop”, pulled over and shouted on me to “Get on!” I was never so relieved to see anyone in my life.

The year I turned 40 a school reunion was organised. The thought of attending terrified me but I knew it was my final chance to conquer my fears and lay the ghosts to rest once and for all. I was reasonably in control of my emotions during the run up to the event until I saw one name appear on the list of people who would be attending. The main instigator of my childhood torment was going to be there.

I very nearly changed my mind but the stronger voice within me lectured my quivering self and said I wasn’t going to let the bullies win again.

When the time came I went along to the event in the local rugby club, flanked by two friends, with my stomach heaving with fear and dread. I don’t regret going for one second however I will never attend another reunion. The bully in question arrived after my friends and I were seated with a drink. I watched them greet our former classmates in turn but, when their eyes met mine, the same look of hatred and loathing from more than a quarter of a century before was staring back at me. Some leopards never change their spots. I turned away.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to sail through life and never experienced bullying at first hand then I expect this is difficult to fully comprehend. If you have experienced bullying then I’m sure you understand only too well the emotions that can be stirred by a name. If you have been the bully then I hope that you never have to experience the pain that you put your victims of choice through.

To this day, I don’t know what started it all. I’ve no idea what minor or major thing triggered it all. I’ll never know ……   But it is all symbolised in a name.