New book available on Kindle!!!!!

I’m so excited to announce that my second novel is now available on kindle.

It’s called Inflamed.  I’ve kept with the theme of looking different and this time, the main character has psoriasis.  It’s a coming-of-age story with a supernatural twist, which can be enjoyed by older children, teenagers and adults alike.

Inflamed

When Megan’s family moves from the city to a small Welsh village, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined.

Ever since she was small, Megan has suffered a disfiguring skin condition that takes a turn for the worse as terrifying dreams of fire rob the young girl of sleep. Megan finds she is losing control in more ways than one, and it seems she’s not the first child to suffer these nightmares and their dire consequences.

But what has this got to do with the ruined cottage nearby, and the local folk tales of a witch’s spirit who haunts the mountain? Can Megan, with her quirky new friend Tom, lay to rest the centuries old mystery before it’s too late

Click here for a preview.

Hope you enjoy it!

Jo x

New book well underway

I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback Girl Perfect continues to receive from readers, not just on Amazon (.com reviews here, .co.uk reviews here) but in blog posts, forums and by email.

Motivated and inspired by this, I’ve made good progress on my new book. It’s another work of fiction aimed at older children, but quite different to Elin’s story. I’ll post further details in due course.

Thanks for reading. Your support and encouragement is very much appreciated🙂

Girl Perfect – want to read more?

Follow the link at the top of this page to read the first chapter of Girl Perfect, my book about 13 year old Elin who was born with a cleft lip and palate.

If you want to know more about cleft then there are links to follow on the right.  CLAPA is a good first port of call.  It’s a great source of information and support for new parents, as well as those with a cleft.

Words of encouragement

I’ve been thrilled by the great reviews that Girl Perfect has had: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Perfect-ebook/dp/B007J2K66K/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top.  Here are a few examples:

“I got this book on my Kindle for my daughter, but got caught reading it for myself. It was a quick read, but very insightful into how a young girl thinks of herself due to her deformity. My daughter is 11, and can’t help but to compare herself to other “skinnier” girls. I’m going to “make” her read ‘Girl Perfect’ so she knows that no matter what she looks like, there’s always going to be someone to love her for being herself.”

“This is a delightful story about a girl with a physical deformity who learns she is a special, wonderful person worth loving. She also learns the first person who needs to love you is you. Everyone has experienced feeling less than and this story will touch anyone with a heart.”

“This was a amazing book I loved it. This book made me realize how it does not matter how you look it is about you.”

I love my work as a Clinical Psychologist but it is busy and most days uses up all my emotional energy.  As a mother of three energetic children, I usually wind up feeling totally exhausted by the evening.  The book reviews have really given me a boost and the encouragement to keep writing and I am now working on my second book.  And actually it’s far more energising to write than to slump in front of the television for the evening.  So thank you for the feedback and the encouragement!

Helpful books and films: self-esteem and feeling different

Over the last few weeks I’ve been scouring the web for titles of fiction books and films that either feature a character with a visible difference, or that touch on themes of interest and relevance.

I’ve been particularly interested to discover written and filmed works that others have found inspirational, comforting or just plain thought-provoking.

Human stories told in sound and light or committed to the page can be terrifically powerful, and I’ve had plenty of conversations about noteworthy movies or novels with people who have sought my help as a clinical psychologist. It’s often through such stories that we can begin to make sense of our own predicament, and better understand the perspective of others.

Discussion boards and online forums have been especially helpful in my searches. There’s a great thread on the Children’s Book Forum in the Amazon Customer Discussions Board. It invites suggestions for children’s books that deal with issues around self-esteem, the nature of beauty, and being different. The thread has been running since 2009, and in the course of 65 posts hundreds of book titles have been recommended, often with helpful reasons.

On the Katie Piper Foundation Forum there’s a spirited thread on ‘Movies, TV & so on…heros & heroines that look different…Unique!’. Better still, a thread entitled ‘Books for encouragement’ contains many titles that forum members have found positively helpful.

Moving away from forums, the wonderful Cooperative Children’s Book Center, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has produced an annotated book list on the theme of bullying, teasing and relational aggression. As the book list’s introduction states:

This selective bibliography offers titles that authentically address the issues of bullying, teasing, relational aggression, and school violence. […] The titles chosen here reflect themes of conformity, self-perception, and popularity in addition to stories related to school culture and tolerance.

Each book on the list has a brief profile and suggestion for age appropriateness, and the list is organised by US school years and whether the principal subject is an aggressor, target of aggression or an observer. There’s a wealth of great leads here.

If anyone reading this has other suggestions I’d love to hear them, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week

Today marks the start of Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week (12-19 May 2012), and over the coming days I’ll be running a series of free book promotions and sharing some of the information I’ve discovered about helpful portrayals of cleft and visible differences in books and films.

To start the ball rolling, GIRL PERFECT will be available for free from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com on Sunday 13 May and Monday 14 May. If you have a Kindle I’d love to get your feedback on the book!

How horses can improve our well-being

In Girl Perfect, one of the most important relationships in Elin’s life is with her much-loved mare, Hebe. Like many young teenagers, Elin is beginning to explore a life independent of her parents. The hacks and idle wanderings Elin enjoys with her horse provide the perfect opportunity to taste genuine freedom outside the home.

The bond Elin shares with her horse is strong and unconditional, and Elin draws enormous comfort from knowing that Hebe doesn’t judge her on her appearance or the way she talks. Just as importantly, Elin knows she’s a good rider; in the saddle her cleft lip and palate is no encumbrance, and she exalts in the feelings of mastery and competence that riding provides.

These are just some of the benefits that riding and the companionship of horses can bring to people, especially those with low confidence or self-esteem.

Since writing Girl Perfect, which drew on my own recollections of happy times spent in the saddle as a girl, I’ve become aware of a growing body of evidence pointing to the benefits of horses and riding to human well-being.

In February this year, Tracy McVeigh, writing in The Guardian, drew together various bits of evidence of the efficacy of ‘equine therapies’, which are becoming increasingly popular.

In addition to the benefits of mastering new skills through riding (which has underpinned the work of charities like Riding for the Disabled for many years now), psychologists and other mental health professionals are starting to recognise the value of horses’ particular character to promoting well-being. McVeigh notes that not only do horses seem to pick up on the way people are feeling, mirroring their emotions and responding accordingly, but there is also some neurological evidence that being around horses can induce calm and affect human brain activity.

There are a growing number of examples of how these ideas are being put into therapeutic practice. Probably the largest equine-assisted therapy provider is Eagala, which operates in many countries around the world.

Then there’s The Horse Boy Foundation, which aims to help young people with autism to develop their communication skills through sensory work with horses and back riding.

Another remarkable example is found in South Africa, where the Montrose Foundation runs an ‘equine assisted youth at risk programme’, helping youngsters whose lives are threatened by alcohol and drug dependency to learn to handle difficult situations through close contact with horses.

Anyone who has ever looked after a horse, or ridden regularly, knows how special the emotional ties are between mount and rider. In Girl Perfect, Elin certainly does. And as evidence grows in support of equine therapies, it looks like the many benefits riding can bring will become ever more available in therapeutic contexts.

Links galore!

On the righthand sidebar I’ve just added some of my favourite links to sites relevant to Elin’s story.

There are anti-bullying web sites, which offer plenty of advice and guidance to anyone suffering the sort of aggravation that Elin faces on a daily basis at school.

I’ve also included sites that offer information and support about cleft lip & palate and other visible differences. Most of these are UK-based, but there are some great sites in the US and Europe.

And because Elin’s horse Hebe plays such an important part in her life, I’ve listed some excellent online destinations for horse-lovers.

Finally, there’s a small selection of psychology sites, including a link to the Centre for Appearance Research.

Anyone interested in the issues raised by Elin’s story should check out the sites, and I’d really welcome suggestions for other sites to be included.

Welcome!

This is the web site for Jo Jenkins, author of GIRL PERFECT, a novel for older children and teens.

The story follows Elin Richards, 13, who has always felt different. Struggling day-to-day with her distinctive appearance, all Elin wants is to be like everyone else. School is a nightmarish and lonely place, and Elin only feels truly at ease when she’s riding her beloved horse, Hebe.

When Elin finally snaps and strikes a boy in her class, the consequences are far reaching. Then someone close makes a suggestion that will change Elin’s life forever.

You can find out more about Elin and some of the other characters in the book here.

GIRL PERFECT is available for the Kindle in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Other formats will be available in future.

If you’re at all curious about the author, click here.