My first publication, ‘Help! I’ve Got an Alarm Bell Going Off in My Head! took me by surprise!



Understandably, it all began with an idea.



I was working as a counsellor in a school for children with emotional needs (often as a result of trauma).  There would be daily melt downs, distress, children running around the school unable to cope.

As part of my professional development, I attended a course with Babette Rothschild who is an international trainer and author on the subject of trauma and learned in depth about the role of the nervous system and in particular how the fight/flight/freeze response affects our physiology. I made friends with two parts of the brain – the amygdala and the hippocampus. There were many lightbulb moments and I remember thinking – why didn’t anyone tell me this before… AND why doesn’t anyone teach children about this?

It was this gap that inspired me to write my first draft of Myg the Mongrel, a story about an anxious dog. Alongside this I wrote what I thought was going to be a pamphlet to go with Myg.



As a therapist I often received catalogues through the post. One day, around the same time, a leaflet from Jessica Kingsley Publishers dropped through my letter box. What jumped out at me was not the books on sale, but a statement at the bottom of the page – ‘Why not be a Jessica Kingsley author?’

If you have ever wanted to get your work taken on by a publisher, you will know that it is usual to go through an agent if you want your manuscript to be seriously considered and not end up on the infamous ‘slush pile’.  Obviously this was a different route, though more common when working on non-fiction.  (Although I was submitting a story, there was a lot of psychological content appropriate for the target audience). For the next three months I worked hard on my proposal as I felt my idea was a good fit for their organisation. After submission I waited patiently. A few months passed and eventually I received an email asking for further chapters of Myg the Mongrel.

I was so excited,

only to be disappointed. They decided not to take on my wonderful (I thought) dog story.



So that was it …

I assumed.

Two or three months later I was astonished to receive another email from Jessica Kinglsey Publishers:

“Are you still interested in having ‘Help! I’ve Got an Alarm Bell Going Off in My Head! published, and when will it be ready?”


It was nowhere near ready.  After the disappointment I had not completed it, thinking it was just an adjunct to the story – and not a real book!  Fortunately I had the outline in my head and knew it would flow.  Then Jessica Kingsley followed their vision to transform it into print. They could see more potential in it than I had.

There was much more of a process to follow including instructing my illustrator, Zita Ra, a colleague and art teacher at the school, to complete the rest of the images.  If you have had a look, you will see how she brought my words to life.  (I love her cartoon character who was the star of the show!)


If you would like to know more about what happened next, keep following my blog!

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