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Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Rewind: Rise and Shine


Dear Readers, Writers, and Precious Patrons,

Today on Friday Rewind we are pleased to bring you Rise and Shine, a guest article from Harmony Kent featured in issue 4 of All Authors Magazine.


No matter how you feel: get up, dress up, show up, and never give up. I found this online, and it is from Lea Michelle’s ‘Rise and Shine’ quotes. It felt very apt; not only because that is the theme for this issue of All Authors Mag, but because it speaks to me in a personal way.



I’ve always wanted to write, but didn’t always have the confidence or know how. I remember the first ‘long’ story I wrote; I was eleven. School had run a writing competition and I filled a whole notebook up with my masterpiece ‘Toby the Job Horse’. All entries were given to the head-teacher who would then grade them, and decide on the winner. Sadly, after weeks of hearing nothing, I found out he had lost my story. I was devastated.  I’d poured my heart and soul into that book. It took a long time for me to write anything else, and the frequent teasing of those around me didn’t help. If I wasn’t writing, I was reading—so I was always on a different planet to everybody else. Mostly, I was misunderstood. Then I grew up. I started out in office work, and then trained as a nurse. I worked with troubled children in Mental Health, as well as adults. In short, life got in the way of my art.  Turns out, I also wasn’t feeling so shiny.


Suffering from very low self-esteem, and overwhelmed by life and the world, I sought solace in a Buddhist Temple, and eventually took monastic ordination. The next thirteen years were long and arduous, but never, ever boring. I learned a lot. Mostly about myself. But also about human nature in general. I realised I didn’t need to change the world: just me. As daft as it might sound: giving up my freedom helped me to find freedom.  


I became a happy, content and very confident woman. A long buried creative streak thrust to the surface and shone in all its glory. Life was good. Then a surgical error led to a painful and life changing disability. I’ve never looked back. Really. This proved to be a real jewel in the mud. I have grown even more through the various experiences the injury has given me. Without this, I probably wouldn’t be writing now. I have learned what the important things are, and what’s simply soap opera. I have learned that my greatest joy, indeed passion, is helping others where I can. But none of this compares to my joy when I sit and write.  


After the injury, I remained in Buddhist monastic life for a further six years, but was unable to follow the temple schedule or really take part in its daily life that much at all. So, eventually, I made the decision to return to lay life. This was scary. Thirteen years cloistered away, and suddenly I’m stepping back out into the world again. Oh my goodness. So much was different. Even the value of money had changed drastically. Forty years old, and starting completely from scratch—what an adventure! I found myself with nothing to fill my days, and there’s only so much reading a bod can do. One day I sat down and began to write … and here I am *smiles*.


In many ways it would have been a lot easier to stay in the temple … better the devil you know, and all that. But that isn’t who I am. I’d found my shine, and this was me getting up, getting dressed and showing up. My motto in life is: never give up. It’s been an interesting journey since I published my first novel ‘The Battle for Brisingamen’. One that hasn’t always been easy. I had tremendous fun writing it, but I was also incredibly na├»ve. I’ve had a lot to learn.


For me, a huge part of being a good writer is to be a good listener. I do my best to take note of feedback and use all criticism constructively. Whilst my first book wasn’t a terrible book, not by a long stretch, it could have been better. Conversely, its first reviews were good ones—four and five stars. Over time it’s had a couple of three stars as well. But regardless of rating, I’ve always taken note of the comments and have used them to learn and to grow. I have also taken an editing course, which has helped a lot, as well as giving me even more skills at my disposal.  


Six months after the first edition was published, I did a major re-edit and I feel it is a much better book for it. I have also been invited to review for Awesome Indies and The Review Board, and now contribute regularly, as well as offering independent reviews via my website (www.harmonykent.co.uk). So, these days, I’m really quite busy. I write, edit, proof read and review. Anything to do with books, basically … which makes me very, very happy. My second book, The Glade, was published in November 2013, and has received a highly positive response so far. Both the cover and the content seem to be a huge success. This second book is a different animal to my first, and is definitely more polished. 

I am nearly finished with a YA novel, which is to be part of a series, and hope to publish that in the not too distant future. I also have another book in progress, which will see the light of day before the end of the year. I am taking a chance being a multi-genre author, as that means my readers can’t put all my books into one specific category. But then I’m a multi-genre reader and this probably has an effect on what comes out of my imagination. At least I’m doing this right from the start, before anyone has time to pigeon hole me!  *more smiles*. I don’t want to end up like some famous actors, who have become typecast and just play the same roles over and over again.

Had anyone told me a year or two ago that I would be a published author—as well as an editor and reviewer—I wouldn’t have believed it possible. Which just goes to show that we can never know what’s around the corner. The important thing is that we keep going:  we get up, dress up, show up, and never give up. That way, each and every one of us truly can Rise and Shine.