My novel, 'Immortal Dreams', is now available to buy from several websites. He's the blurb from the back cover and the opening chapter, to give you a taster. It's all about daring to dream, striving for greatness, pursuing excellence and despising mediocrity. Sporty people will enjoy the golf and tennis theme, but you could know nothing about either golf or tennis and still completely follow the story and capture the spirit of it fully. Hopefuly you might just be able to get one in time for christmas, perfect for sporty relatives who you might like to see read more, or people who read loads and are always looking for new authors to sample, or maybe just for those people who are impossible to buy for!
I've added links to the websites that are selling it at the end of the hub.
Here's the blurb:
Golfer Jack and Tennis player Darla set out on their paths to greatness. Having dreams bring either ecstatic joy or agonising despair. Both despise mediocrity, their journeys are ones of hope and along the way they realise that such a journey is better than any destination. Can the irresistible force of their determination overcome the immovable object of all the obstacles in their way? Every time Jack looks like getting close to his dreams something gets in his way. Injuries, loss of form, lack of belief, bouts of nerves and sometimes plain bad luck. Darla has one particularly cruel setback, the depression that follows results in her throwing herself into a hedonistic and self destructive lifestyle. Sunny is Jack's caddy and is not only useful as a great friend, but her dark past acts as a great perspective check any time Jack gets too uptight about manipulating a small white ball around a big green field. Striving for greatness and daring to dream make for a highly emotional journey, character is revealed and principles tested. It’s not about the sports, it’s about the people. Only achieving their dreams can ever make either of them truly happy.
And the opening chapter:
‘A journey of hope is better than any destination.’
To live without aspiration is to be waiting to die. Without a dream there is no chance of fulfilment. Someone who has a dream will only know true happiness if that dream comes true. You can either go after that dream with all the intensity you can muster and risk the bitterest of disappointments, or shy away and spend your life trying to convince yourself that you are happy. To dream and hope of something that may seem beyond your abilities is not to encourage failure, as the only way you can fail is if you don’t pursue your dream to your limits. If the chances of a dream becoming a reality are a million to one, then there is a chance. It is not the odds that discourage most people, but the work required to overcome them. Otherwise so many lottery tickets wouldn’t be bought. Yet the only time success comes before work is in a dictionary. Nothing truly worth achieving can be done easily. Anyone willing to commit to the work required to strive for greatness, especially in the face of derision or criticism from weaker souls, deserves much respect. Greatness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
To aspire to, dream of, hope for, crave, hanker after, seek out and endeavour towards greatness, then pursue it unwaveringly with tireless vigour, is itself as good a definition of greatness as any.
I wrote that passage when I was in a particularly defiant mood, during one of the many times I’ve been alone with my thoughts over the last few years. Since leaving school I had four years doing a few different jobs, and then I decided on a change and enrolled at my local university. As English Universities go the one I went to isn’t the grandest or the one with the most prestige, but it was good for me. Another student described it as having a happy, holiday camp feel to it, a conclusion she came to after her open day visit. That feeling was a major factor in her choice to go there. My use of the words “go there” reiterates the fact that it isn’t one of the most upper class educational establishments. Had I said “study there” then I’d be talking about one of the big city Universities, had I said “read there” then I’d be talking about the Oxbridge brigade. Whether I’ve been working or at university neither has ever been near to being my main priority in life. Without wishing to steal the great Dr Martin Luther King’s words, I have a dream. That dream is to play professional golf at the highest level and if not become a great player then certainly hand out a few beatings to the two or three that might play in my era. As a twenty five year old who’s never won a county championship amateur or even played in a national championship, I admit the odds are against it. But if I wanted an easy life I would have stayed in one of those run of the mill jobs. Instead I planned to go over to America, play professionally over there and find out just how good I can be.
I had been hoping for a little more Sport Psychology learning from my degree, but it turned out there wasn’t that much of that. With all that time in between shots and nobody forcing you to play a shot until you are ready, golf is one of the most psychological of sports. Concentration does not come natural to me, getting down on myself can be all too easy, as can getting angry, all of which can be of severe detriment to my performance. Only one person has ever made me angry, me. Golf means so much to me that getting angry at poor results isn’t surprising, but I know it has a detrimental effect on my performance so it is up to me to control it. My inner dialogue after a bad shot often goes something like this; ‘Okay forget it, focus on the next shot, you can’t do anything about it now, whatever you do don’t get angry, don’t get angry, I said don’t get fucking angry! (At this point the offending club would be slammed into the ground or another act of similar petulance would occur) I can’t believe you’ve let yourself get angry, how could you do that, you IDIOT!’ Whilst I can’t envisage ever getting my ice man exterior image up to Bjorn Borg’s standards, I’m constantly working on calming myself down. Negative thoughts keep coming at me but I am improving at vanquishing them, all these mental aspects are a work in progress.
Going to university did have another advantage, the social aspect. A student talking about the social aspect probably creates the wrong image, as I don’t drink alcohol at all and my appearances on a night out were rare to the point of being coveted. I am actually referring to the interaction with the other students. Helped me to take my mind off golf, total obsession twenty four seven wouldn’t do me any good. Lots of people who I found very easy to get on with, if only on a trivial level, and a couple of really good friends whom I intend to keep in touch with. I achieved an average mark of around fifty-seven, giving me a ‘two-two’ degree classification. Should I have got a ‘two-one’? Probably . Could I have got a two-one or even a first? Definitely. However I was happy enough with the mark, where there is no passion there can be no disappointment. Throughout the three years, lecturers told us that all we can ask of ourselves is, that we put in one hundred percent effort. Whilst I agree with the sentiment I maintain that no more than one percent of students anywhere can honestly say they have even come close to one hundred percent effort. After all you can always read one more page, or revise for an exam for one more minute or read through an assignment one more time before handing it in. The more people I meet, the more I realise how lucky I am to have anything in my life that I am truly passionate about, to the point of obsession. A tiny amount of people have feelings like that about anything.
After finishing our exams virtually all the students arranged one last big night out as a group, so big in fact that it would start in the early afternoon for most of us. I’ll start my story with that social excursion, as for me I look at that point as being the one where I graduate from the school of life and enrol in the school of dreams. Having dreams brings either ecstatic joy or agonising despair.
The sun beginning to set was our signal to finish with the well organised barbecue and enter the student bar, for what for most of us would be the last time. People drank the mind altering liquid and sucked on the slow working suicide sticks. During the get together there was plenty of time for everybody to speak to whomever they wanted. Topics of conversation were generally split between reminisces and talk of future plans. I prefer to talk about the future than the past, but the past is always easier and on a night like this it seemed appropriate to join in wholeheartedly and unashamedly in much recalling of the many humorous moments from the past three years. Throughout the night people were allowed to go up on the stage and use the microphone to speak to everybody at once. As the night wore on and the alcohol intake continued to grow the appearances on stage increased in frequency and in emotion. Despite my trademark sober state I took the chance to speak from the stage.
‘I just want to say that over the last three years I’ve come to think of you all, and I do mean everybody in this room,’ I paused and convincingly fake being slightly choked up. ‘As people I went to the same university as!’ A rowdy chorus of mock boos. ‘What?! It’s clear that you can’t handle the truth. Seriously lads and ladies stay out of trouble and try and do something worthwhile.’ I casually tossed the microphone to the DJ and jumped off the stage, headed back to where I had been sitting for most of the night. At the table with me were the only two people from university whose phone numbers I had. I preferred to have a small number of phone numbers of people who I’d always like to call, rather than a mass of numbers of people who I didn’t really like talking to that much. Will was the sort of chap you couldn’t dislike, rarely had a bad word to say about anyone and didn’t do anything that was obviously annoying. The only thing that bothered me about Will was his lack of ambition, but he seemed happy enough. Sometimes it’s good for me to talk to someone about down to earth and trivial matters, even I can’t be a great thinker and philosopher all the time. Anya was virtually always fun to be around and I found her wonderfully easy to talk to. Much like me she was a free spirit who desperately desired to do something interesting with her life. For this summer at least she was going to America to do some tennis coaching. She will enjoy that and be excellent at it, but it’s more of a stop gap and a scouting mission, whilst she thinks of what her next major step in life will be. Anya wasn’t on the sports course with Will and I, she had consistently been goaded by me for taking the “easy option” of a business course. She had managed to get a first class degree and was clearly the most academically inclined of the three of us. Her conversation skills were fantastic, from the first time we met we were always able to talk on a vast array of topics from the deep and meaningful to the wonderfully trivial. Anya’s coaching job was in California and although I’m planning on being thousands of miles away in Florida I’m glad I’m going to have a good friend in the same country.
‘Good speech,’ Anya greeted my return.
‘I liked it, you know you’re an exception to my comments honey.’
‘No I’m not. I am somebody who you went to the same university as you.’
‘Very sharp, I love to have you around to keep me mentally stimulated.’
‘It can get boring talking to these dumb witted humans all the time.’
At this point a gang of lads came over to talk to anybody who would listen, each of them extremely intoxicated.
‘Hey Jack are you still going to pursue golfing fame and glory stateside?’ One of them said, in what was surprising eloquence for him, even had he been sober.
‘I am indeed. I’ll leave the impressive alcohol drinking, shagging around and general wasting of life to you guys.’
‘We’ll drink a pint for you when we see you on TV winning five hundred grand for winning the Open,’ he attempted subtle sarcasm.
Anya felt the need to speak on my behalf. ‘It doesn’t matter whether it’s winning five hundred grand for winning the Open or five hundred dollars for finishing fourth in some Florida mini tour event, the point is Jack will be living his dream.’ She captured my spirit perfectly.
‘Whatever. Hey Anya you can’t turn me down for a dance on tonight of all nights.’
‘I wouldn’t want to ruin my perfect record in those stakes,’ Anya bluntly replied.
‘Let me translate it into your language; you’ve got more chance of shagging the Queen.’
‘Still frigid after three years,’ he said and then walked away with the rest of his boozed up mates, each of them swaying as much as walking.
Being drunk had never washed with me as an excuse for any type of bad behaviour, but over the years I have learnt to let a few things slide. As Anya wasn’t the least bit bothered by the guy’s remark I didn’t take issue with it.
‘If you turn a guy down you’re either frigid or a lesbian, which would you rather be?’
‘Can’t I be a frigid lesbian?’
As much as we all tried to use this night as one last chance to mingle with a mass of people we had shared experiences with over the last three years, as the night wore on we found ourselves congregating into our own familiar cliques. It takes a person with the strength of a long haired Samson to survive this world without the support of others, let alone achieve your dreams. As I sat around a table with Will and Anya I was sure that they would both play a part in helping me win my mental battle over the coming years. For the last hour or so of the night they both, not unexpectedly, became drunker, so as conversations started to lose their zest we finished the night with one last dance session on the union bar dance floor.
The following day I went round to the room that during term time for the last three years, Anya had lived in and made her own. Although it was the middle of the afternoon, it must have felt like early morning to Anya. She answered the door, still wearing what she had been the previous night and looking very bleary eyed.
‘Loving the new look,’ I said just after she opened the door. ‘Always said you should try something different with your hair.’
‘I see you’re going to make the most of your last chance to be annoyingly sober the day after a uni night out.’
‘Always wondered if it was possible to sleep walk and talk at the same time. Seriously I love the hair, it’s such a unique style and screams of defiance and not being dictated to by society.’
‘Get in, sit down, shut up and let me down a can of coke. Then we can start our emotional farewell discussion.’
I followed Anya’s instructions, even handed her a can of coke from her fridge before sitting down in a deck chair.
‘So are you really not going to the graduation ceremony?’ She asked after gulping down the can in one go, as she sat on her bed.
‘No, I’m not hanging around any longer, wasted too much time already. Besides that gown and hat look wouldn’t suit me.’
‘It won’t suit anybody.’
‘At least you’ll all look ridiculous together.’
‘That helps a little. So what’s the rush to get stateside?’
‘By getting there for the beginning of July it give me a little over four months to acclimatise and get some competitive experience, before entering the tour school.’
‘That’s the tournament you have to win to get onto the tour for next season?’
‘Don’t have to win it, just finish in the top forty, but the higher up you finish the better, because that will make you eligible for more events the following year.’
‘This is the tournament you reckon is the most pressure you’ll ever be under.’
‘Definitely in a way, because I’ll be playing for my future, failing in a regular tournament only affects that week but failing at tour school affects the entire following year. I’m sure coming to the last hole of a Major tournament with a one shot lead, or needing to hole a putt to win the Ryder Cup would be nerve racking in a way no one could ever imagine, but it would be a different pressure, with the whole golfing world watching you. Being in either of those situations would mean that the chances are you’re reasonably established as a player and financially secure for the next few years at least.’
‘Don’t mean to be negative, but what happens if you do fail?’
‘Won’t be the end of the road for me, I want to give myself a few years at least. If you narrowly miss out on the big tour, then there is a second tour you can get a spot on. The prize money is nothing like the same and I wouldn’t be sharing fairways with any superstars, but it is a nation wide tour and just like on the main tour each event is four days and only the top seventy or so players survive the cut to play the last two rounds. Missing the cut means no pay cheque at all. It’s proved to be an excellent training ground for future success.’
‘Any if you flunk out completely? Sorry, hangovers make me negative.’
‘I know, no offence taken. Even then there are plenty of mini tours over there for me to play on. The entry fees of the players generate the prize money and if you are good enough you can earn enough to live off, but the main thing is it keeps you sharp and hopefully improving for your next attempt at tour school. Plenty of players will take failing at tour school to be the queue to give up and get a “real” job. Although I’m happy to earn my stars on tours like this, I will have to start winning money fairly soon. I’ve saved up enough money so that I could not win any prize money up to the Tour School, and still be able to afford the entrance fee for that. From then on though I will have to be earning a living somehow and I’d much prefer it to be from prize money than from bar work or servicing golf buggies.’
‘Have all those overtime hours been worth it?’
‘There’s definitely no way I’d have been working all those extra shifts, every bank holiday, New Years Eve and Christmas Eve for the last three years or so, if I hadn’t had something I desperately wanted to save for. Without an end product in sight, it would’ve been difficult to do most of those jobs at all.’
‘Yeah I don’t think of it as wages, more as compensation Do you have to go to Florida? You can’t come to California with me?’ Anya checked one last time.
‘Trust me honey, it was seriously tempting to base myself in California, just so I’d have a great friend nearby. But from the research I’ve done the mini tours in Florida are better.’
‘Fair enough, as long as you’re not avoiding me.’
‘Of course not, it will be great to have a friend in the same country, we can keep in touch and share thoughts on American idiosyncrasies and see if they are the same on opposite coasts.’
‘So are you still looking forward to it as much as you have been for the last three years? Or now it’s virtually upon you are you getting nervous?’
‘I’m as excited as a kid in a candy shop, on Christmas day who’s just found out he’s going to Disneyworld and when he gets back they’ll be a puppy waiting for him.’
‘Sounds excellent, no nerves or worries at all?’
‘Oh hell yeah, so many questions are going through my head. Will the American courses suit my game? Will the lifestyle be to my liking? Will I find any new friends? What type of on course character will I be when I join the professional ranks for the first time, a poker player type ice man or a hot head that would build a reputation for being a “volcano”? Will I handle the pressure of the notorious tour school and get a PGA Tour Card or even a second tier tour Card? Would moving to America turn out to be the best or worst decision of my life?’
‘So many questions.’
‘I’ve decided to answer them all the same way: I don’t know, but I’m going to have a lot of fun finding out.’
‘We’re here for a good time, not a long time.’
Links to selling website:
Barnes and noble: