Child sex abuse survivor’s long awaited second book now published in paperback

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A CHILD-SEX abuse and cancer survivor’s long awaited second book of poetry is published worldwide in paperback today (Monday, 18 February 2019).

Multi award-winning writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in newspaper and magazine journalism following a nervous breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor and the support of his family. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing and talking about the life experiences which had led to his breakdown.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, published in November 2014. It was met with international acclaim and the first 1,000 print edition has almost sold out.

From childhood sexual abuse, through cancer, bereavement, bankruptcy, divorce, repossession of my home, the loss of two of my children and an assault which almost took my life, I guess there was a lot to write about,” says Nic.

Last May, after a three year wait, he published its sequel Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft as a Kindle e-book.

Such was the positive response that it has been published today as a 134 page large format paperback, complete with illustrations by Moscow artist Helene Vasileva.

“When I released The Hill in November 2014, I was struggling to get back to a life of sorts and fighting my way out of the corner,” explains Nic.

“By the middle of 2016, I was more than halfway through writing a raft of poems for the new book and by this time I was out of the corner, but still fighting.

“But by the time all the work for Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft was concluded I was so far out of the corner you wouldn’t find me… I had found my way home.

“I am so grateful to my close family and many friends who have given me support, inspiration and encouragement over the past six years,” he adds.

Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft

In paperback is priced at £6.99 and available from:

www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft/dp/1796807575/

The Kindle e-book is also available at £2.21 from:

www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft-ebook/dp/B07CXYJTV4/

Both versions are also available on other international Amazon platforms.

 

 

Unique book of international poetry published in paperback today

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A UNIQUE collection of international poetry, first published as an e-book almost nine months ago, is released worldwide in paperback today (11 February 2019).

While global warming, poverty, pollution, homelessness, the refugee crisis and warfare continue to dominate world news, a diverse group of global poets have turned their spotlight on the frailty and hope of humanity.

Their book: LUMINANCE – Words for a World Gone Wrong is now published worldwide by Amazon as a stunning 125 page paperback.

The writers live and work 11,000 miles apart, across 18 time zones, in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Palestine, Japan, England, Scotland and six different states of the USA.

They include a mum of four, a 16 year-old school student, a haiku writer, a freedom fighter, a grandfather, a modern day minstrel, a novelist and a self-proclaimed ‘mystic’.

Their poetry displays the diversity of their home cities and cultures and form the unique nature of the book.

The writers of LUMINANCE are:

Austie M Baird is a 33-year-old mother raising four young children in rural eastern Oregon, USA.

Sophie Bowns, 26, from Cumbria in England, is a teaching assistant and a fiction author, with five published books to her name.

Hanalee is a widely travelled 18-year-old American gardening enthusiast from Phoenix, Arizona.

Bridgford Hashimoko, 53, is an EFL teacher in Tokyo, Japan, who is fascinated by the many forms and variations of Haiku.

Annabel James, from Oklahoma, USA, writes poetry as a positive outlet to manage a chaos of emotions and thoughts into a form that she can share.

Anjali Love is a mystic, poet, writer, storyteller, artist, and tantric yogini, from Melbourne, Australia and is a lover of life with insatiable wanderlust.

Heather Lynn Matthews is a married 31-year-old mother of two, from Ontario, Canada, who loves to write poetry and short stories.

Joseph Nichols lives in Kentucky, USA. By day, he works for the state transportation cabinet and by the weekend he is a minstrel and DJ.

Nic Outterside, from Wolverhampton in England spent almost 30 years in journalism. He discovered the therapeutic power of writing poetry following a nervous breakdown in 2013.

Brotibir Roy is a 17-year-old and a 11th standard student in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who writes to pacify his mind and to play with words.

Megan Taylor, 22, is an English and Film graduate from Aberdeen University in Scotland.

Troy Turner was born and raised in Los Angeles, USA. Nothing has captivated him so much as the written word and the interaction between author and reader.

Zanita is a 37-year-old college lecturer from Gaza in Palestine. When not teaching, she publishes books to support the liberation of her country from the control of Israel.

Nic Outterside is the editor and publisher of LUMINANCE.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this.

“I was lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“I hope you enjoy and share their end result… we all think it has all been worthwhile.”

LUMINANCE – Words for a World Gone Wrong can be purchased via Amazon outlets at:

WORLDWIDE: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1796270032/  price $9.71

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1796270032/   price £7.50

JAPAN: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1796270032/  price 1,150 Yen

ITALY: https://www.amazon.co.it/dp/1796270032/  price 8.92 euros

GERMANY: https://www.amazon.co.it/dp/1796270032/  price 9.18 euros

And on Kindle e-book at ALL 13 Amazon sites

 

 

 

Unique new paperback book published worldwide today

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 A UNIQUE new book of poetry, prose and correspondence by emerging writers from South Asia is published in paperback today.

After six months of writing and production the clamour for Asian Voices was so great that its publisher fast-tracked its Kindle e-book release two weeks ahead of schedule.

And today the paperback followed suit to worldwide acclaim.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across more than 240 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, patriarchy, disease and death in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From chilly Kabul in the north, through Karachi, Delhi and Kolkata to the searing heat of Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include an artist from Lahore, an engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks. They are effusive in their excitement about this new book.

Nitika Das, a student from Jodhpur explains: “This book is the output of one dream shared by 20 writers.

“I believe everyone in this world is a writer, everyone has a story to tell… everyone knows how to put it into words. All we need is a pen and some blank paper.”

Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi believes that the diversity of the individual writers helped shape the book: “As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts.”

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Sobia Shakir Moon from Karachi, Pakistan

Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi adds: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”

Interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”

Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of Asian Voices.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this. I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“I hope all the readers get as much pleasure reading this book, as I did editing it.”

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing. It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices.”

  • Asian Voices – an anthology of new poetry and prose from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is available in paperback from:

Worldwide

www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan/dp/1795571217/

UK

www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan/dp/1795571217/

The Kindle e-book is also available from all Amazon outlets, including:

UK

www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

India

www.amazon.in/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Rest of the World

www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Unique new book fast-tracked for worldwide release today

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DEMAND for a unique new book has fast-tracked its publication to today (30 January)… 12 days ahead of schedule.

After six months of writing and production the clamour for Asian Voices was so great that its publisher released it worldwide as a Kindle e-book this morning, rather than wait for the scheduled 11 February launch.

The paperback version of the book will be published next week – also well ahead of schedule.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 emerging writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across more than 250 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, patriarchy, disease and death in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

From cool Kabul in the north, through Karachi and Kolkata to the searing heat of Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.

The writers include an artist from Lahore, an engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.

The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.

Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks.

They are effusive in their excitement about this new book.

Nitika Das, a student from Jodhpur explains: “This book is the output of one dream shared by 20 writers.

“I believe everyone in this world is a writer, everyone has a story to tell… everyone knows how to put it into words. All we need is a pen and some blank paper.”

Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi believes that the diversity of the individual writers helped shape the book: “As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts.”

Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi adds: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”

Pratik Arti Prakash, an electronic engineer from Mumbai sees a common theme: “You could use all the milk in the world to paint it white, still deep down the canvas is black. We learn from everyone but mostly fail to learn from ourselves.”

Agathaa Shelling, a 12th grade school student from Ahmedabad completes many sentiments:For all that has lived the ruins, it is art. The people, the poetry and the words. It’s beautiful how, the boundaries have embraced love so beautifully.”

Fellow writer and interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in southern India says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”

Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of Asian Voices.

“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this. I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.

“I hope all the readers get as much pleasure reading this book, as I did editing it.”

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing.

“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.

Asian Voices – an anthology of new poetry and prose from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is available from Amazon at £3 a copy (280IR).

UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

India

https://www.amazon.in/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

Rest of the World

https://www.amazon.com/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan-ebook/dp/B07N7HY1VZ/

 

Poetic homage to the greatest LP of all- time now available in paperback

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A POPULAR poetic homage to Nobel prize-winning songwriter Bob Dylan is now published worldwide in a slim-line paperback.

Blood in the Cracks by award winning writer Nic Outterside was first released as a Kindle e-book last September, to rave reviews.

The book tips its hat both lyrically and stylistically to Dylan’s critically acclaimed album Blood on the Tracks – originally released in 1975.

Nic describes his own work as a “lifetime labour of love”.

“It’s almost a journey’s end,” he says. “The works of Bob Dylan are the soundtrack to my life.

“I was a mere teenager when I first discovered his music, his words of truthful vengeance and his vignettes of love and theft.

“For me Blood on the Tracks, remains a lyrical and poetic touchstone. And my soul is forever wrapped within its entire 51 minutes and 42 seconds.

“Overtly autobiographical, the LP is full of tales of a lover relating a series of unrelated events, set in a mythical America. Like a series of impressionist paintings of life the tales are without geographical or chronological boundaries.

“Over 10 iconic songs, Dylan alludes to heartache, deception, anger, regret and loneliness. It’s a world-weary, nostalgic and ultimately a poetic Bob Dylan; and that is what makes Blood on the Tracks so timeless.

“The poetry is in each and every song,” adds Nic.

“So to create my own poetical homage to that album – in places borrowing the patterns of some of Dylan’s songs – is a true labour of love and a dream come true.”

Blood in the Cracks is now available worldwide in paperback at just £3.99.

United Kingdom: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1794666001/

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1794666001/

Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/1794666001/

France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/1794666001/

Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/1794666001/

Rest of the world: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794666001/

It is also still available on Amazon Kindle e-book at just £1.70

www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Cracks-Nic-Outterside-ebook/dp/B07H4S3DSM

Notes:

  1. Nic is an award-winning editor, journalist and writer. Among more than a dozen awards to his name are North of England Daily Journalist of the Year, Scottish Daily Journalist of the Year and Scottish Weekly Journalist of the Year. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in written journalism.
  2. You can buy Nic’s first poetry book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light on Amazon Kindle, priced at just £1.43 at: www.amazon.co.uk/Hill-Songs-Poems-Darkness-Light-ebook/dp/B07CNZ75MZ
  3. You can still buy the First Edition paperback The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light at £1.99 with £1.80 for UK post and packing via Ebay at: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Hill-Songs-and-Poems-of-Darkness-and-Light-Nic-Outterside-Paperback/223163293082?hash=item33f5919d9a:g:3O0AAOSwdjha6DvY:rk:1:pf:1
  4. Nic’s second book: Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft is priced at £2.20 on Amazon Kindle at: www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft-ebook/dp/B07CXYJTV4/
  5. The full story behind his first book of poetry can be listened to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2N2X7t7awo

New book explores love, death, religion and rape in South Asia

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A UNIQUE new book is set to take South Asia by storm as it addresses burning issues such as love, death, rape and religion in the developing sub-continent.

Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 emerging writers from across the region to shine a light on their diverse societies.

In 37,000 words, across 260 pages, the contributors paint graphic pictures in poetry and prose of issues which divide and unite people in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The book is divided into 10 sections: Darkness, Light, Love, Loss, Heaven, Hell, Life, Death, War and Peace.

And it is within these sections that the diverse Asian Voices can be heard.

With an infant mortality rate of 4.4% in India and 6.1% in Pakistan (the UK rate is 0.28%) and an adult death rate of 31% and 21% respectively (UK rate 10.3%) – an even higher rate in war-torn Afghanistan – it is hardly surprising that the issue of death features strongly.

Mortality is dealt with sensitively by the Asian Voices writers in at least three sections of the book.

This extract on coping with grief by Lahore based writer Shahreen Iftikhar is an example:

“They say, there are five stages of grief;

I got stuck in denial, with no reasons to heal.

Is this what life is; scribbles on an empty sheet?

Making no sense, just filling the voids of our being?

I said to myself: ‘To Hell with all this grieving and the misery.

It’s time for me to let go of all the tragedies.’

All I had to do was believe.

That is all it took for me to heal.”

 

All countries in South Asia live under different degrees of social patriarchy and this is reflected in the treatment of women.

Rape is the third most common crime against women in India.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Out of these, 24,470 (98%) were committed by someone known to the victim. And many more rapes go unreported.

Similarly, physical abuse, house-arrest imprisonment and even bride-burning (now illegal) also go largely unreported.

One of the Asian Voices writers, Janvi from Jaipur has already made a name for herself in calling out for social reform.

This extract speaks volumes:

And then one day we decide to raise our voice 

But again, this society shut us by claiming it as useless noise.

The politicians and the media cry that they worship women and cow!

Is this a way of worshipping? But How?

As our wails grow louder and louder about the demons residing in our own town 

They paint henna on our hands and send us off to an unknown place, looking like a clown.

Wondering that this was not the life that we were destined to live, we decide to put an end

And here you go, creating loads of new monsters and making it Trend.

We are sacrificing ourselves from centuries just so that you know

And here you go, treating us again like the trash that you throw. 

We’ve had enough, being the sacrificed Goddess 

Next time we’ll turn this country into a bloody mess.

 

Religion also resonates within the pages of the book.

India is home to at least nine recognised religions, and while Islam dominates in Pakistan, there are also significant minorities of Christians, Hindus and Ahmadi, and even more diversity in Afghanistan.

So the sections on Life, Heaven and Hell deal with each writer’s views of spirituality and faith.

This piece by 16-year-old Shaheeba from Sibsagar touches many pulses:

How could she survive further?

When her life resided in this heart rate.

Though not here, but in Heaven

They merged to a single soul

Whenever their love tale was evoked

It started raining

Dripping all with pure love.

This flooded the river of love

Which immersed both the fragments of the hamlet

With the virtue of love.

There was love everywhere

Flowing in the winds of hamlet

Residing in the lifeless soil

Felt in the arms of the mother

And in the oneness with God.

Some souls are united in Heaven.

Some stories are plenary despite being partial.

 

The one thing which binds all the writers together is the eternal subject of Love.

For centuries the Indian sub-continent has given birth to some of the world’s greatest love poets. And they continue to emerge as we enter 2019.

This poem by Agathaa Shelling of Ahmedabad, explores that deepest of all human emotions:

You’re the sanctified sacrament in the shrine of love. I’ll devour you and I’ll become pious forever.

Yes, I’m an atheist and there’s only one religion that I practise. That’s love. And there’s only one deity from whom I receive my hymn… it’s you.

And if this is not love. I don’t know what it is. A little bit of fall in your summer. A little bit of rains in your spring. Sunshine in your winters. And a chilly gust of wind in scorching heat.

“There was once a king of verses. Power were his words. Mightier than any sword. And then there was a queen of metaphors. Deep were her rhymes. Deeper than any ocean.

He weaved a tiara out of his words and she sharpened his sword out of hers.

And that’s how they announced their love, with poetry.”

 

Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: “We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing.

“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.

 

  • Asian Voices will be published in both paperback and Kindle e-book in February.

 

Printer’s Ink, Dreams of Dylan and the Road Home

REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2018

The world is old
The world is grey
Lessons of life
Can’t be learned in a day

It’s the last day’s last hour
Of the last happy year
I feel the unknown
In this world is so dear

AS the clock ticks towards midnight on the last day of the year, I pull some ragged guitar strings to sharpen my senses and recall the time retreating.

This year has been unlike any other… a curate’s egg of good, bad, poisonous and beautiful. But while crows’ feet and grey lines etch the passage of my life line, 2018 is a year I will never forget.

  • Four remarkable holidays in Dorset (twice), Northumberland and Argyll – where I buried my heart many lifetimes ago.
  • A prostate cancer scare, which turned into something more insidious, but far more treatable.
  • The hottest UK summer in 40 years.
  • The death of two amazing musical friends.
  • The publication of five books – yes FIVE!
  • Featured in the book Dreaming of Dylan alongside my hero Patti Smith.
  • Watching my son grow into a fine young man.
  • The redemption of spirit with a family of writers some 5,000 miles away.

But, any review of the year, has to be about the people who made it unique and so very special.

So stay with me as this will be an OCD review on turbo charge, month by month…

 

JANUARY

I have never made an edit like this before, but after receiving new verifiable information about the nominated person (3 March 2019), and following careful consideration I have deleted the entry for January 2018.

 

FEBRUARY

Caroline Outterside is a second cousin who has many closer family links with me. Her husband is the son of Billy Outterside, my father’s first cousin, who grew up alongside him, attended each other’s weddings and remained close for more than 60 years.

Caroline is a joyous and astute counselling psychologist, but more than that a wondrous mum to three adult children and a dear friend.

But 12 months ago her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a malignant cancer of the tongue and tonsils.

Her bravery during surgery and radiation treatment from February onwards is a testament to her spirit and the love of those around her.

She is an inspiration and a true hero.

 

MARCH

John Leach has been a friend for more than 10 years.

We were colleagues together at NWM Media and although I was a journalist and he in Credit Control our friendship grew closer after we had both left that part of our working life.

We share a similar passion for football, rock music and corny humour, which ensures a bond.

We are also both dads of amazing kids… but John is a super dad: a foster parent to more lucky children than I can count.

He is also someone who has always been there for me, even when my life is at its darkest, offering friendship, succor and even a roof over my head if ever needed.

John could have been any month of the year, but I chose March, because he encompasses the Spring Equinox of my year.

 

APRIL

I first met Komal Arshad in January 2014.

She is a young doctor, currently finishing her studies at a medical college in northern Pakistan.

She hopes to train to become a cardiologist here in the UK.

We met through our shared passion for the liberation of Palestine and have remained close ever since.

She may live 4,000 miles away, but she could equally live next door.

Our friendship is close and over the past few years barely a week goes by without contact either by text, email or video call.

I am often the first person she has turned to with everyday problems such as arguments with her university room-mate, worries about marriage and the aftermath of a house fire in April this year, from which she and her mother miraculously escaped with their lives.

Komal is my adopted daughter and she lovingly regards me as her second father… for that I am so full of gratitude.

This year was made so special when she said she wanted me and my family to attend her wedding… with the proviso: “I need to find a husband first!”

 

MAY

I first met Annabel James in 2017 as a fellow poet on social media.

Articulate, intelligent, beautiful and musical, this spirit from Tulsa, Oklahoma quickly became a great friend and was the first recruit to my poetry anthology Different Voices. When that book was hijacked by others upon publication, she was one of the first to rally round a new project we called Luminance in May this year.

Annabel was a driving force for Luminance and even recruited a new writer from Kentucky to help the project achieve its goals. Her unswerving loyalty and friendship will be rewarded with a first paperback copy of the book in February 2019.

Through my own health problems and further writing during this year, she has remained a lovely and true friend across the breadth of the Atlantic and time divides.

 

JUNE

Kirsty Scott and I were newspaper colleagues in Scotland some 24 years ago.

While I reveled in hard news, Kirsty was growing into one of the finest feature writers and novelists I have ever known. The last time I saw her to speak to was in an Asda supermarket in Perth in 1995, while she was carrying her first child. We wished each other well before the ensuing years our lives and careers took different tracks.

I caught up with Kirsty about three years ago through the wonders of Facebook and Instagram and we both swapped news about our respective lives and those of our children.

But I was rocked when I discovered in 2017 that she was battling breast cancer. Her battle throughout that year and into 2018, involving surgery and courses of chemotherapy, was relentless. But Kirsty maintained her humour and indomitable spirit, keeping everyone in her circle of trust and friendship with light and laughter.

She is a true beacon and one of my heroes of the year.

 

JULY

Sometimes in life you meet someone who you know instantly was carved from a different rock than the rest of us.

Vonny Tuzio is one such person. I have known Von for more than 10 years. Football and rugby crazy, she is also a besotted lover of pugs, cats and all animals. She is also the most generous person I have ever known. Besides writing Christmas cards which I will never throw away, she has also showered us with many remarkable gifts, each sealed with genuine love and affection.

So when she turned up at our back door in July, laden down with beer, cheese, plants, chocolates and pickles plus two of her adorable pugs it was like having a second Christmas.

Vonny stayed for four days, enough to swill a lot of beer and wine and cheer on England in two World Cup games.

In years to come when asked about July 2018, I will recall two people: Harry Kane and Vonny Tuzio!

 

AUGUST

My younger son Nathan Outterside has been the apple of my eye from the day he was born at 4lbs 10oz on Christmas Eve 2001.

Sadly my marriage to his mother broke down when he was only three-years-old and he came to live with me 24/7 after he had just turned four. For the next nine years, as his single parent, Nathan was my sole focus in life… teaching him to read, taking and fetching him from school, endless trips to taekwondo classes and tournaments, playing, supporting and everything else any parent does for their child.

Sometimes it was hard work, but the rewards have been many, including him gaining his black belt in taekwondo in 2016.

But the biggest reward and an enormous moment of personal pride was in August when he achieved nine GCSEs all at the top A grade.

Now he is studying for his A Levels with a focus to become an engineer.

He really is my new clear star!

 

SEPTEMBER

This was the month when I kicked off my latest book project: Asian Voices – an anthology of poetry, prose, letters, essays and drawings from a team of 20 incredibly talented emerging writers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

The fact that this team has, in four months, become a family of close friends and embedded souls is a testament to the lyrical journey we are all still carving.

So I salute and embrace you all: Minnie Rai, Agathaa Shelling, Nicky Das, Anshul, Anjali Kumari, Elly, Janvi, Fahmida Shaikh, Shaheeba, Sakshi Walia, Shiraz, Pratik, Alankrita Singh, Sobia, Sanya, Aditya, Shilpa Goel, Shahreen Inftikhar, Pratibha Aasat and our cover girl Jasleen Kaur.

 

OCTOBER

Ian Hine and I have been good friends for the past 15 years through our shared love of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, our passion for music and the quiet joys of parenthood.

We also lived in a similar part of Sussex as teenagers and bonded as adults with our Fans United campaign to save Wrexham FC from its asset-stripping owners.

But much more than that, Ian has been a confidante and close friend through all of life’s troubles, and though he lives 160 miles away he is one of the first people to offer support when I am struggling.

And as a collector of umpteen million football programmes, he is also an amazing literary and football fount of knowledge.

So when in October I decided to write my current book Death in Grimsby (my decades of following Brighton and Hove Albion)… Ian was the first person I turned to for advice and historical facts.

And as always, within a few minutes he came up trumps, and offered ongoing support.

 

NOVEMBER

Sometimes people just fall into your path and you stand star-struck at their talent and personality.

So it was on a grey November day when I first came across movie starlet Priyanka Singh.

Priyanka, from Kolkata in India is the close friend of one of my Asian Voices’ writers ALankrita, and the first time I saw her was her beautiful spoken rendition of one of ALan’s poems.

As a refugee from Drama courses, both at first degree and postgraduate studies, I seem to have surrounded myself with thesps all my life. I am humbled that three great friends are professionally trained and accomplished movie actors.

Priyanka has no such formal training, yet her acting and miming across dozens of TikTok videos will entrance and delight the most hardened soul.

Behind her masquerade she is a beautiful, reserved and gentle soul… and has begun to teach me Hindi!

 

DECEMBER

In my life I have cried far too many tears of sorrow and loss that I have drowned happiness.

But twice in December I shed tears of pure joy.

One occasion was when I opened my Christmas present from my son Nathan. It was not the amazing gift of a pair of Levi 501s that made me cry, but his beautiful words written on the wrapping paper which will stay with until I die.

The second occasion occurred a week earlier when one of my treasured writers of Asian Voices asked if I would be her adopted father.

Knowing of the loss of my own daughters, the amazing Nicky Das (who ironically is the same age as my youngest daughter Shannon) simply asked me to be her dad and to promise to fly to Jodhpur in India for her wedding and then to “dance with me like fathers do with their daughters”.

The tears of joy and love flowed freely on both occasions.

What a way to end 2018!