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Reach Out

News Posted on Wed, August 13, 2014 19:36:11

Like millions of other people
around the world, I greeted news of the death of Robin Williams with shock and
disbelief. The sickening irony that a man who made us laugh time, and time
again, being driven to suicide by his own overwhelming sadness is hard to

Depression is the topic of the
moment, filling up the feed on social media, urging people to seek help, to
talk to someone, and it is good to see the taboo lifted, even for a while.
Unfortunately, this focus will shift —all too soon— to the next ‘worthy’ news
item, to the latest nomination craze, to the antics of some reality TV show,
and the sufferers of depression will be left, as they were before, isolated,
anxious, and lonely.

I consider myself lucky, while
there have been times in my life that I have experienced grief, sadness, and
trauma, it has never taken over, but I have seen people greatly affected by
mental illness and depression. I make that distinction deliberately; for some
illnesses — Bi-polar, schizophrenia etc.— there needs to be medical
intervention and support, but for others — depression, anxiety etc — while
medication may help, often symptoms can be alleviated with the right support,
understanding, and sometimes just company.

I’ve often found that after
traumatic events — death, separation, accidents — women seem to have better
support networks than men; they can talk to their closest friends, and cry,
grieve, shout — whatever they need — whereas men don’t always have that. I know
I’m generalising, but in my experience it’s pretty much the case. Just last
week, I was talking to a friend who confessed that after the breakdown of his
relationship earlier this year, he was feeling lonely and isolated, and that he
couldn’t open up to his closest circle of friends because he would be seen as weak.
I disagreed, and told him that to be able to admit that you are hurting, and
needing help was a sign of strength, not weakness, and I was encouraged that he
agreed to contact a support agency for help.

Earlier this year, I organised a
fundraiser, and the charity we chose was Mind Your Mate & Yourself, a
not-for-profit organisation that simply aims to help those who are struggling
with some aspect of their everyday life. It can act as a stepping-stone to
other services — such as PIPS and Lifeline, and can provide access to
independent counselling services.

This Saturday 16th
August, MYMY are holding a fundraising coffee morning at Vanilla Restaurant,
Newcastle from 09:30-11:30 – I will be there, selling copies of my novel How
Will You Remember Me? as I am donating my royalties from the book to MYMY.

For anyone who is struggling with
depression, anxiety, stress, sadness, or loneliness, please reach out; let
someone know how you’re feeling. I think I speak for everyone when I say that
it is far easier to ask ourselves what CAN we do to help, than wonder what we
COULD have done, when it’s too late.

Publication Day

News Posted on Fri, August 01, 2014 23:21:19

Today was the ‘official’ launch day of my debut novel,
How Will You Remember Me?, although,
like all my babies, it arrived a little early and I have received some
incredible feedback, which I am absolutely delighted with.

I’m a firm believer that life shows you both sides
on the coin, and I felt the need to send a message to one author this week, to apologise
for mercilessly pushing him into the spotlight time, and time again, without
any appreciation for how nerve wracking it is.

In my quest for publicity for the novel, I answered
a call from a blog looking for authors to interview, and they emailed me asking
why should they feature me, what made me unique?

I was stumped; what makes me unique? In a world of
conformity, standing out is for the brave, the confident, the stupid, and the
deranged. So, which category do I sit in? I probably have a limb in each, however, I don’t think it’s my uniqueness that makes me good blog fodder,
I think it’s my ‘everydayness’.

I’m 42, a wife, mother, grandmother,
full-time worker, I have a crush on Michael Fassbender, and I consider it an
achievement to throw make-up at my face on a morning – glamorous is
something beyond my reach – but I wrote a book! Me; I did that, and if I can,
then you can.

My goal was to write a book I would love to read, a book that was
laced with fate and emotion – from humour to heartbreak – and one
that not only delivered a happy ending, but one that left its reader with hope
that a ‘happy ever after’ out there for them, if they needed it. The
feedback I have had this week tells me it worked.

How Will You Remember Me? is a serendipitous tale of love, life, and loss,
which explores the idea of fate, and that everything happens for a reason, but
when something truly awful happens can it ever be justified?. The protagonist,
Catherine Harvey, moved to Belfast to build a new life after her divorce, and
seven years later she has her material and physical needs covered. After the
death of her ex-husband, and lustful thoughts about a sexy stranger at the
funeral, she realises she is ready to share her life with a special someone,
all she has to do is find him. Connor Maxwell returns to his hometown after
suffering a devastating loss, and attempts to put his life back together. As
his world begins to heal, it brings him far more than he bargained for.

I am donating my royalties – 10% of sales – to Mind
Your Mate & Yourself, a not-for-profit organisation in Northern Ireland who
help people struggling with their everyday life by raising self-esteem,
self-awareness, and encouraging self-care and self-respect. The founder, Ray
Cunningham, is an exceptional and insightful individual who has given me some
brilliant guidance over the last few months, and I hope to help them, help

Today, I was featured on a book blog that I also do
guest reviews for, and it contained some information on how my love for writing
was recently rekindled through involvement in a friends project; ‘The Ultimate
Creative Challenge’ (TUCC) (

If they do interview me, I hope that even one person
who is up to their eyes in life reads it and thinks ‘well if she can, I can’;
because that’s what matters – inspiration – and it’s what TUCC is all about;
inspiring people to be more. I would also like to sell a gazillion
copies of the book and hand over a big fat donation to the guys at MYMY because
those people actually save lives. Now that’s inspiring.

Calling All Poets

News Posted on Sat, May 17, 2014 12:45:38

To continue our support for our chosen charity, Mind Your Mate & Yourself, we would like to publish an eBook of poetry to raise funds.

If you have a poem you would like to include, or you wish to write an original piece, please email it to – subject MYMY Poem

We will include a short bio on you, and include links to any other published works.

Thank you

J x

Launch featured in Ulster Tatler

News Posted on Sat, May 17, 2014 12:40:34

Thanks to the continued support of those great guys at Ulster Tatler, our fundraiser and book launch features in the may edition.

Book of the Month in April’s Ulster Tatler is Volunteer by Gary McElkerney

News Posted on Sun, March 23, 2014 08:43:59

Absolutely delighted that Volunteer by Gary McElkerney has been named as ‘Book of the Month’ in April’s Ulster Tatler by Kellie Chambers. It is a fabulous review and we are honoured to have the title bestowed on what is both Write Path’s, and Gary McElkerney’s debut novel.

Volunteer by Gary McElkerney is available in Belfast from and No Alibis, and on Amazon rrp £9.99

Press Release – Fundraiser and Book Launch

News Posted on Sun, March 23, 2014 08:36:42


March 2014


Fundraiser & Celebration of Local Talent Raises £455

Our event
held at The Parlour, Belfast last Saturday, 15th raised £455.00 for our
chosen charity ‘Mind Your Mate &
’ and celebrated the publication of Volunteer by Belfast author Gary McElkerney.

With live
music from Blast 106’s SJ Wilson and
rock band Black Sonnet, and a
reading from Volunteer by local actor Jay
the evening was a storming success and well attended with guests
including glamour model Laura Lacole, Kellie Chambers from Ulster Tatler,
Narelle Allen from Drama for Kids, actor Tim Ferguson and Michael Quigley from independent
film production company Titanic Vision Entertainment. We were also joined by
some of the team from Blast 106 and the Queens Knights Cheerleaders.

Janine Cobain, speaking on behalf of Write Path NI, closed
the event saying “Every one of you is here tonight to show your support for
someone else; whether that is me, or Gary, or one of our amazingly talented
guests, or for MYMY, and that is what this is about. People supporting people.
While planning this event I have connected with, and had the support of, some
amazing people whose generosity has blown me away, and the message that I want
you to leave here with tonight is that
is what Northern Ireland should be renowned for; is its people, their talent,
their creativity and their generosity, and for the bright future ahead of us.”

Write Path would like to extend its thanks to those who made
the night possible; Wine Inns and the staff at The Parlour, SJ Wilson, Black Sonnet, Jay Dee, Mick Faver
from and Fiona Kidd, and to those who donated prizes; Alan Russell,
Adam Keefe from Belfast Giants, Andras House, Lusty Beg Island, Nandos, Waynes
Words, Old Time Favourites, Dirty cars Wanted, Arcadia Books, Dominos and many
more. Also to the guests for their support and generosity.

Volunteer by Gary McElkerney has this weekend been named Book of the Month in April’s edition of
Ulster Tatler
and we would like to extend our congratulations to him, and
our thanks to Kellie Chambers from Ulster Tatler.

Volunteer is available from, No
Alibis, and from Amazon rrp £9.99

Janine Cobain, Write Path NI, Gary McElkerney and Ray Cunningham, founder of MYMY

The Collaborators – Gary McElkerney

News Posted on Thu, February 20, 2014 13:45:45

Just over three weeks to go until our event and my first interview
is with the man himself. Gary McElkerney was born and raised in Belfast,
Northern Ireland where he gained a BA Hons. in Furniture, Product and Interior
Design at the University of Ulster, before pursuing a career in Lighting
Design. Gary continues to live and work as a Lead Lighting Designer in Belfast.
His hobbies include playing American Football for the Carrickfergus Knights and
also taking part in endurance races around the UK and Ireland raising funds for

What inspired you to write
your first book, Volunteer?

I don’t know really, I always had a story to tell, I guess,
and being a natural storyteller I thought I’d try and put something down on
paper. What started off as a well received 28 page short story developed into a
novel, and I have to say I enjoyed writing it.

Is there a message in your
novel that you want readers to grasp?

Well, I think the story itself calls in to question people’s
beliefs. It is a controversial story, focused on difficult ethical and moral
decisions. While it’s easy to identify with the protagonist, ‘Chris Johnston’,
and sympathise with his situation it makes you think what would you do in his

The novel as a whole is a statement in itself. The title ‘Volunteer’
almost mocks the idea that Northern Ireland can really only contribute
successfully in this market if it’s about the infamous “Troubles”; a
Volunteer being a terrorist. I want to show that firstly Northern Ireland has
more to offer than its troubled past, and that there is more to us than an
outdated reputation.

the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I guess I found it easier to write about things closer to
home. Chris maybe a fictional character, but there are certainly aspects of his
personality that are reflective of my own, but it’s good to see people identify
with him in his own right. I volunteered in my early 20’s and did take a trip
to Ethiopia, which helped.

are your current projects?

Now the novel has been published, the first phase of The
Ultimate Creative Challenge is complete, so it’s now on with the next
phases the soundtrack and the movie. I have just sent my lyrics and music
samples to Gaz Whelan, member of the iconic band Happy Mondays, who has such confidence
in Volunteer being made into a movie that he has started writing the
soundtrack. The novel is also currently in the hands of a TV producer in LA. In
the meantime, I’m working on the script which should keep me occupied, and out
of trouble, for a while.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change
anything in your book?

I’m going to say no, simply because I believe I found a happy
medium. There were necessary changes and edits needed, but by the same account
I could have overworked it. I think between us – Me, Janine (Write Path NI)
and the test readers – came up with the best solution.

there anything you found particularly challenging in your writing?

I wrote just like I speak which is an editorial nightmare,
it’s not quite English; it’s ‘Belfastian’. While this is a book primarily for
the Northern Irish audience, the rest of the world needed to understand it.
It’s difficult, at times, not to get defensive about your work; someone else
making changes to something I’d worked so hard on did make me nervous. When I
seen the amount of ‘red pen’ signalling changes to be made it was a little
worrying but, in the end, necessary. The integrity of the story and its message
was preserved, and at the end of the day that, for me, was the most important

designed the covers?

I did. I never approached the novel as an author but as a
designer by trade, everything was carefully chosen to either enhance the
reading experience, or get a subtle message across. Drew Heaslip of ICON Images,
managed to capture exactly what I was looking for right away on our
photo-shoot. Write Path advised on the
necessary layouts to make the novel as a product come to life.

you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes – never attempt to write a novel! No, planning is key.
The back of my bedroom door was covered with large sheets of paper which I
continually added to as I was writing the novel. I think if I had to do it
again, I would completely plan it out, and then start it as there were a few
times I repeated myself.

has been the best moment on your journey as a write so far?

There have been a few. Holding the finished printed novel I
think would be top of the list, and seeing it on Amazon and other sites. A
close second would be readers’ reactions. I had an idea of the effect I wanted
the novel to have, but it really has been a surprise how well the book has been
received. I have had some really encouraging, and flattering, messages from
people around the world which are just great to get.

do you see yourself in 5 years?

At one time I had a 5 year plan, but in truth life doesn’t
work that way. I never thought 5 years ago I’d be a published author, for
example. Yes, I have a plan for the challenge but it doesn’t have a timescale;
I work at it when I can taking each day as it comes. Throughout this whole
venture I have been overwhelmed by the offers and help I have received, that a
simple idea 2 years ago has now been recognised at international and celebrity
level. I do have a goal I’m planning to reach, but I’m going to enjoy the
journey in the meantime.

me something about yourself that people don’t know?

Tough one…In 1995, for the VE Day commemorations, I played
the role of George Formby and sang in the Ulster Hall.

you didn’t live in Northern Ireland where would you live, and why?

There are so many places I’d like to visit, but if I had to
settle on one spot I’d say Canada. I have been half a dozen times, I just think
it has everything; a great way of life and it’s such a beautiful country.

you didn’t have to work, what would you do with your time?

What I’m doing right now, that and travel the world. I want
to see everything and love experiencing new cultures. I love anything creative,
which was the reason for taking on three of the main creative industries;
writing was something new, I have to admit, but I love music and film, so I’m really
looking forward to progressing the challenge.

You can
connect with Gary on twitter @TUCC2013 and on Facebook

Gary’s debut novel Volunteer is available in paperback and
eBook from Amazon,, iBooks and other good stockists.

Press Release – Event 15th March 2014

News Posted on Thu, February 20, 2014 13:39:54


Fundraiser & Celebration of Local Talent

Saturday 15th March 2014, 17:00hrs – 20:00hrs

The Parlour,

Please join
us in fundraising for our chosen charity ‘Mind
Your Mate & Yourself
’ and celebrating the publication of Volunteer by Belfast author Gary McElkerney.

We will be
showcasing local talent; art from Alan
, photography from Icon
, live music from Blast 106’s
SJ Wilson
with his Ultimate Country Tribute and rock band Black Sonnet, and a reading from
Volunteer by local actor Jay Dee. We
will also hear an introduction from Ray
, of MYMY and tickets
for a prize raffle will be on sale on the day.
Prizes include a hockey stick
donated from Adam Keefe, Team
Captain of the Belfast Giants signed
by all the team, a night in a luxury cabin at Lusty Beg Island, £50 Amazon
Voucher, print of Carrick-a-rede
rope bridge by Alan Russell, a meal
for 4 at Nandos, Sunday Lunch at the
Ramada Shaws Bridge, complete set of
novels by award winning author Michael
, a voucher for Waynes Words
and many more. will be attending to display locally
crafted goods – from T-shirts to sweets – as well as selling copies of
Volunteer, which Gary McElkerney will be on hand to sign.

The event is
being held at The Parlour, Elmwood
Avenue, Belfast
– thanks to kind support from the management – on SATURDAY
15TH MARCH 2014 at 17:00-20:00 hrs. Free entry into the club later
that evening for guests.

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