Please Hear What I’m Not Saying: Guest Post & Spotlight


Today I am delighted to be featuring a very important poetry anthology, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying. This is a charity composition that raises money for the UK mental health charity, Mind. Editor & author Isabelle Kenyon has been kind enough to lend her time to discuss this collection today.



pleasehearPlease Hear What I’m Not Saying
Isabelle Charlotte Kenyon (Editor), Karan Haveliwala(Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781984006646
Poetry Anthology
Pages: 231



With over 600 submissions, poets from around the world put their pens to paper to create this anthology, enthused by a common goal to raise money for UK mental health charity, Mind. With poems focusing on mental health from a wide range of experiences, this book aims to continue the worldwide conversation about mental health.

‘These poems crackle with the electricity of experience and sing with the effort of rendering that experience in language. This is work that stands a few inches away from your face and tells you tales that shudder with a terrible beauty; these voices must be listened to because what they are saying is something that all of us, whoever we are, need to know.’ Ian McMillan

The profits from this book go to UK Charity, Mind.

Trigger warnings by chapter: Section One: References include war, depression, grief, alcoholism, bulimia, trauma, suicide Section Two: Sexual abuse, self harm, suicide threat, Borderline personality disorder, electro shock therapy, razors Section Three: Postpartum depression, hospital ward Section Four: Anxiety, pills, Borderline personality disorder, eating disorder Section Five: Poverty Section Six: Alzheimer’s Section Seven: Depression Section Eight: Therapy

Purchase links:  Amazon.UK

guest post

Thank you to Danielle for letting me guest blog today! I wanted to spread the word about the MIND Poetry Anthology which I have compiled and edited. ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ has recently been released on Amazon. The Anthology consists of poems from 116 poets (if I include myself!) and the book details a whole range of mental health experiences. The profits of the book with go to UK charity, Mind.

The book came about through my desire to do a collaborative project with other poets and my desire to raise money for a charity desperately seeking donations to cope with the rising need for its work. I received over 600 poems and have narrowed this down to 180.

I believe that what makes this anthology different, is the collaborative nature of the project – although I have had the final artistic control, all the poets involved are passionate about the topics of mental health which they have written about, and about the wider aim of the book to raise money for Mind. Truly, our voices are stronger together.

As an editor, I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I believe that the anthology as a whole is a journey – with each section the perspective changes. I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health and that the outcome of these last sections express positivity and hope.

I would love to share with you a few poems from the book:

By Sarah Evans

Everyday, projecting an invention of myself,
talking too much, speaking too little,
wrapped in layers of self-defence,
needing to be understood, not knowing
what to say, always perched outside
the magic circle of belonging,

poised at the party’s edge,
heart thumping, sweat crawling,
nausea pressing, world swimming,
longing to fit in, but reluctant to conform,
yearning for acceptance for
my unacceptable self,

this strange being, performing
amongst strangers.

By Sallyanne Rock

Immobile, I lay waste to days
Letting dust gather at my toes
Pins prickle sat-on hands
I wait, resenting daylight

Purpose passes by the window
Stillness stares back
From a crumpled pile on the sofa
Blanket-soft, nose cold

Standing to swallow cheap comfort
I face down the silent wall
Fruit furs and collapses
I watch it drip through basket holes

This poem was previously published for World Mental Health Day at

*Learn more about the project here.



Isabelle Kenyon is a
Surrey based poet and a graduate in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. She is the author of poetry anthology, This is not a Spectacle and micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered, published by Origami Poetry Press. She is also the editor of MIND Poetry Anthology ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’. You can read more about Isabelle and see her work at

Follow Isabelle Kenyon: Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

I want to extend a special thank you to Isabelle for providing this post and the above information. I am a firm believer that mental health awareness is more important now than it ever has been. I hope that each of you will take a bit of time to explore this collection and incredible cause.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Guest Post with Author Rook Winters


Today I am pleased to share a guest post from author and fellow tea drinker, Rook Winters. He published The Branch Office on January 15, 2018, which offers a humorous and heartfelt exploration of that office and tech  life so many of us are familiar with!

branch officeThe Book

The Branch Office
By Rook Winters
ISBN: 9781775235903
Pages: 310
Genre: Humor & Satire



There’s a story in every cubicle.

A novel that is part tribute and part lampoon of office life. You’ll nosedive into absurd behavior, quirky personalities, Silicon Valley excess, 80s nostalgia, personal loss, frustration, unrequited infatuation, company softball, and, of course, doughnuts.

Luke is young and stuck at the bottom of the career ladder but he doesn’t intend to stay there. The grizzled programmer in the next cubicle has been working on the same software for decades and just wants to stay off the radar of the executives.

Unfortunately, the corporate agenda is at odds with their hopes and dreams.

You’ll love the perfect mix of humor, despair, and satire. Get your copy of The Branch Office today!

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK

Guest Post

This guest post was written by Rook Winters, author of The Branch Office, a novel that is part tribute and part lampoon of office life. After seven years working for a tech company, he’s more than a little familiar with the absurdities of corporate life.

I used to be an IT consultant. (How’s that for the start of a riveting tale?) Back in my consulting days, I visited a client site where factory workers on their lunch break were subjected to video loops of the CEO hobnobbing with celebrities. Nothing helps a plate of cafeteria chicken fingers go down in the middle of a Canadian winter like seeing the boss on a tropical island with his arms draped around scantily-clad fashion models…

image1.jpgPhoto Credit:

When people say things like “Don’t tell anyone but I’d do this job even if they didn’t pay me,” I mostly think they’re full of bovine dung. There are exceptions, of course, but people work because they need the money. The lucky ones experience some level of fulfillment in the process. The unlucky ones are miserable sacks of flesh dragging their feet through the aisles of big box stores or down the hallways of corporate offices wondering how bad the consequences would really be if they had a full-blown meltdown right then and there.

A surefire way to beat that workaday humdrum feeling is a free low-fat mocha frappuccino from the onsite barista then a quick company-sponsored massage in the relaxation space, am I right?

image2Photo credit:

If you’re laughing at the preposterousness of that suggestion, you’re not alone, but it’s very real if you land the right job. And by the right job, I mostly mean in tech. And by tech, I mostly mean Silicon Valley.

After joining a California-based tech company, I was introduced to office snack programs with gourmet tea blends, all-natural energy drinks, and more food options than I can remember, including seaweed crackers. Interesting fact: in employee surveys, the most requested snack was always Doritos, never seaweed crackers. Shocking but true. Remember, you heard it here first.

I was fascinated (and disturbed) by how quickly people would become indignant about changes to the snack program. A perk became an expectation and then morphed into an entitlement. The baby carrots are being replaced with crackers and hummus? That calls for an angry email. No more coconut water? Outrage in the hallways. The sparkling water machine is broken again? How can we be expected to work in these inhumane conditions?

This passage from my novel, The Branch Office, references a number of perks that are common in tech companies. None of them are made up.

A foam football lands in Luke’s cubicle and a contrite-looking support agent arrives a moment later to retrieve it. He apologizes quietly before hurrying away.
The interruption reminds Luke to check the time. His 7pm deadline looms and he decides he can’t spare the time for Beer 30 today.
Each programmer, tester, and documentation writer makes commitments for the week and they take those commitments seriously so they’re usually heads down on Friday afternoons as penance for overly optimistic estimates. Today is no exception, although Luke’s deadline was imposed on him because of the upcoming release of Doxtronix upgrades that Connie and Fish coded.
In contrast to the dev teams, the customer support team gets very few phone calls in the dwindling hours of the week. Fish once compared it to ants that perform complex tasks when each colony member makes decisions based on its instincts. All these workers in many different companies unwittingly collude through individual choices based on self-interest and ensure that each and every worker gets out the door by 5pm on Friday. Better to wait until Monday than risk being in the office when the week ends. And so the customer support folks are usually tossing Nerf balls and watching YouTube videos on Bill’s oversized computer monitor by mid-afternoon. Until Beer 30.
At 4:30pm (give or take fifteen minutes), faithful adherents respond to the call to worship of the tech industry’s popular religious sect of Drinking at Work. In Silicon Valley, the war for talent compels companies to offer an embarrassing array of perks and creature comforts. There are micro-kitchens with free snacks; full-service cafeterias with made-to-order grill stations; onsite massage therapy; laundry service with at-work pickup; game rooms; meditation rooms; napping pods; full-service barista bars; in-building daycare; and even in-building doggy daycare. Everyone has their favorite perk but it’s the company-sponsored booze fridges and craft beer kegerators that draw both introvert and extrovert alike from their desks for an end of week happy hour.
Middlesworth does not have a corporate cafeteria, onsite massage therapy, daycare, laundry service, or most other perks used to keep the company’s hook sunk deep into the flesh of corporate carp in the Valley. It does, however, have Beer 30. At 3pm every Friday, Sirine accepts delivery of two small kegs of craft beer and taps them in the office kitchen. The customer support folks are tipping up red Solo cups by 4:15pm and within thirty minutes, everyone is lined up at the taps.
Connie slams his laptop shut at 4:41pm, gives his hands a clap, and proclaims, “Beer 30 time.”
Luke stands and they meet eye-to-eye over the cubicle wall.
“Hey, you know how you promised Polly earlier in the week that we’d review the support case data for Doxtronix? We haven’t really done that.”
“We did a bit.”
“But not enough to make any conclusions. That was Tuesday and it’s Friday now.”
“I know it’s Friday, that’s why I just said ‘Beer 30 time.’ ”
“I’m serious, Connie. I feel like we made a commitment to have answers this week.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was going to work in the evenings but I kind of felt guilty doing that with my parents just sitting around the house doing nothing.”
“What’s that? Did the impermeable Connie Sherlock just admit to feeling guilt about his parents?”
Connie gives him the finger. “They leave tomorrow. I’ll work on it on Sunday and we’ll talk to Polly on Monday.”
“Fine. If Polly asks, I’m blaming you.”
“I would expect nothing less.”
“What time on Sunday? I can come in for a while. I’m behind on Vortex stuff anyway. I had to spend all day finishing Doxtronix 49 edits.”
Connie makes a noise somewhere between a grunt and a snarl. “Come in? Seriously, why don’t you have a laptop?”
“Dunno. Over my pay grade.”
“Which is saying something since the guy who gives out computers barely makes minimum wage.”
“No, of course not. He probably has more stock options than you.”
Luke curls his lip. “Time?”
“Before lunch,” Connie says. “Then we can get out of here early afternoon.”
“OK, Beer 30 time for real. You coming?”

I repeat: none of those perks are made up. That’s right, even doggy daycare in your office building can be found at some companies. People from outside of tech, and even people in tech but outside of Silicon Valley, find it hard to relate to the lavishness heaped upon employees of tech giants and startups alike. When I wrote this passage, I worried that people would think my list was over the top and unbelievable!

These days, I usually write at home. Working from home has its own perks. The tea is always my preferred brand and there’s no competition for the kettle. I can blast orchestra music, 90s alt-rock, or nature sounds at whatever volume suits my mood. I have control over when and how collaborators can interrupt my productive time. My office mate, a miniature Australian Shepherd, is low drama as long as he gets a couple short walks. And I have complete control over the office snack program. You’d probably just call it “getting the groceries.”

17626141.jpgAuthor Bio

Rook Winters has worked as a software developer, corporate trainer, and technical writer so he is well-acquainted with the ups and downs of spending day after day in an office. His first novel, The Branch Office, isn’t autobiographical but it taps into the humor and despair of office life in a way that’s only possible after spending thousands of days in the land of cubicles.

Rook is also the author of several short stories based on the same characters in The Branch Office.

Follow Rook: Website  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to  Rook for his time and the wonderful post featured today!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Spotlight & Guest Post: The Knight’s Secret by Jeffrey Bardwell


Today I am pleased to share Jeffrey Bardwell’s upcoming fantasy/adventure book, The Knight’s Secret and a fantastic guest post. The author has also made a free teaser and giveaway available, so be sure to see details following the book information and sign-up!

theknightssecretbkreviewtemp1 (3)

The Knight’s Secret (The Mage Conspiracy, Book 1)
By Jeffrey Bardwell
Publisher: Twigboat Press
Expected Release Date: 3/5/18
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure with romance elements
Formats: epub, mobi


Retired hero Sir Corbin rides to the capital of the Iron Empire for one last adventure. But the capital is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Soon all mages are suspect . . . including Corbin’s daughter.

Corbin attempts to find allies among his old regiment. The army has become a slithering nest of vipers as imperial mages and cavalrymen move warily around each other. Both sides snare Corbin in tight coils of suspicion, politics, and lies. He is caught between a tryst with a jilted mage ex-lover and the tight-lipped scheme of an ex-buddy in the cavalry. When the vengeful empress launches a vendetta against all mage kind, Corbin must decide whether to be a father or a hero.

The bickering mages and cavalrymen aren’t the only ones hiding something. Sir Corbin is not who he seems. Discover The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy adventure in The Mage Conspiracy series. Join a quest of self discovery, romantic entanglements, and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.

Sign up to receive a free teaser and a chance to win 1 of 5 ebooks here
(Raffle ends March 5, 2018)



Sorcery, wizardry, magic . . . call it what you will, but such powers are rarely subtle in the realm of fiction, unlike the realm of reality where almost everything is hidden and obscured by misdirection. A powerful wizard with bristling beard and tall staff will rain fire from the sky. A street performer in a top hat will conjure flames from his fingertips. These are the polar ends from a gradient of effects of course. Nothing prevents a stage act from being bombastic or a wizard’s staff emitting a quiet glow in lieu of crackling flames. The result is the same among the gathered mob: awe and the persistent question, what just happened?

This awe is in part sparked by the unnatural quickness of the street performer’s nimble fingers or the wizard’s vicious attack. Much of the shock during and after magic is from the illusion of speed. People tend to fear what their eyes cannot follow, what their mind cannot perceive. One of the most fearsome creatures on the planet, but hardly the most deadly, is the viper. The coiled animal strikes with astonishing ferocity. Blink and you’re dead.

With their capes flaring like the hood of a cobra and poison magic dripping from their fingertips, wizards are the human vipers of their world. Such is the perception. But just like you can strike the head off a viper with astonishing ease, magic often has tremendous liabilities and disadvantages that lead to the ‘squishy wizard syndrome.’ A wizard caught unawares or temporarily bereft of magic is like an uncoiled viper: a weak and pitiable being.

To the weak, defenseless mob, ruled by their emotions rather than logic, the perception of danger is more powerful than reality. In the real world, this draws respectful crowds. The illusion of danger is titillating. In the realm of fiction, this draws fearful crowds. Let us examine a case study: magic—thunderous flames from the sky magic—is real and disturbingly close to home.

What if you suspected that your neighbor was a mage: a powerful being, a snake hiding in the grass? To an individual, this may be cause for reasoned response: empathy or introspection or caution. You question yourself. Surely this friend across the street whom you’ve known for years whose children frolic with your own could not pose any danger? But the fear gnaws on your mind. Suppose you tell your other friends. Whispers spread. The mob gathers.

To the mob, the accusation of magic is enough to stir fear. The perception of danger is enough to stir a response, and this is no reasoned response. Reactions are primal and instinctual and vicious. A mass of human snakes whose minds are more venomous than their fangs descend upon the nest of vipers. The mage is killed. The mage’s mate and brood are slaughtered, whether they share his powers or not. The mob is in a frenzy. The mage’s house is destroyed with torches. The raging flames are no less destructive for all that they do not rain down from the sky.

The mob is safe. It disbands. Only individuals remain to question themselves and kick the debris. Were these smoldering ashes really a threat to me and mine? Was he even really a mage? Did I dare assume otherwise?

Did I just make an entire family . . . disappear? What just happened?

Jeffrey Bardwell wrote his first fantasy epic when he was seven: a thrilling single page adventure. Subsequent stories have matured alongside their author. He devours fantasy and science fiction novels and is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, Jeffrey enjoys cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.

The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also is an unabashed ancient history and mythology buff. If you enjoy some aspect of his books, he would love to hear from you. If you do not, he would not.
Connect with Jeffrey & learn more: Amazon  Twigboat Press  Facebook

I would like to extend a special thank you to the author for his time and the wonderful post provided.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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