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I spotted the hash tag for Universal Childrens Day on Twitter this morning and had to smile at the relevance to recent events and discussions at The Costello dinner table during the last few days.

Daughter aged 17.

I’m tired about all the comments at school about what it means to follow certain BAC* programmes. According to students and teachers, the only programme worth anything is the BAC-S (mostly science). They think ‘S’ students are the achievers and above the rest.


She doesn’t follow the ‘S’ programme but is a high achiever. I’m not saying that as a doting parent, I base it on facts evidenced by her grades. For several years she has said that her goal is to be a surgeon. Sadly though, teachers don’t support her goal, they are consumed with the idea that you have to reside in a particular box to become a doctor and Kalyani is one box below. We have heard (and ignored) their comments at parents evenings because we know that our daughter will follow her path and, with 100% support from us. Some doctors too don’t support the teacher point of view and good news from the president.

A review of the system is underway. Exactly where that will go we aren’t yet sure but will it force a change of attitude on the coal face where teachers’ seem to push young people away from their life-path?

I told the class tutor that I am going to university in Toulouse to study to become a lawyer. She said I wouldn’t be able to achieve that.

That came from a dinner discussion with our son, Sasha. He is currently in the final year of a BAC course that last years class tutor said he wouldn’t be able to manage. He is scoring grades above the class average.

At the end of the semester (Christmas), the class council will meet and decide whether or not to support Sasha’s choice. The tutor will vote against, other members of the council are expected to follow her lead.

What does this do to a young persons confidence?

Facing judgment and disapproval for our choices can be painful. But over time it becomes clear that others’ judgment often has more to do with their own fears and insecurities than with our shortcomings. They might feel betrayed, confused, or even envious. Seeing things from this angle can help take negative comments less personally and increase our understandings of others.

We encourage our six children to follow their dreams and impress upon them that not all dreams are created equal. The life we want to means making choices that may go against the expectations of communities or culture. Stigma, isolation, and uncertainty might occur as a result but the less travelled road has its advantages.

While nothing in life is risk-free, some paths have clearer roadmaps than others. Carving a difficult path involves trial and error, which can also mean greater potential for failure. Experiencing failure can help us change our relationship to it, and see it as a learning opportunity rather than a verdict on our ability.

There’s no shortage of opinions about what it takes to make life meaningful or the path we ought to follow. Some argue that life doesn’t have meaning until one gets married or has kids, others place a higher value on professional success. Personally, I follow what can be described as a mystical path. Meaning is a deeply personal, subjective experience guided by my intuition. Research suggests that the types of experiences that give us a sense of meaning—like kindness or overcoming adversity are not constrained by culturally-defined milestones or opinions.

On this Universal Childrens Day, we should be promoting the needs and goals of our children and helping them achieve rather than pushing them toward paths we see rather than those they hope for. At any given moment, it is they who ought to decide how their story will progress.

Reviews make an authors day

Starting the week with a five star review is wonderful and I am sure every writer can identify with that. But, what keeps our readers from posting their reviews? Especially after they have told you how much they enjoyed reading the book via email or social media.

Why readers don’t review isn’t a new debate so, don’t worry, I’m not going to go on about this. Except to say:

  • Your words to an author are just as important as the words in their books are to you.
  • What you say about a book you’ve read can make a huge difference to the success of an author. Especially to those who aren’t yet getting their books reviewed in the mainstream press.
  • Leaving a review is kind and the world definitely needs more of that.
  • Reviews encourage others to read the book


There’s no need to write a lengthy work of art. You could simply say,

‘Beyond The Pyre was a great story, I loved the characters and will look out for more from this author.’

Once done, you can copy and paste to Amazon, Goodreads and any other review platforms you are aware of.

If you would like to write something more detailed, you might want to consider the following template. You don’t have to answer every question; they’re suggestions!

Points to Ponder:

  • What was the story about?
  • Who were the main characters?
  • Were the characters credible?
  • What did the main characters do in the story?
  • Did the main characters run into any problems? Adventures?
  • Who was your favourite character? Why


Your personal experiences

  • Did you relate to any of the characters in the story?
  • Have you ever done or felt some of the things the book raises?


Your opinion

  • Did you like the book?
  • What was your favourite part?
  • Did you have a least favourite part?
  • If you could change something, what would it be? (If you wish you could change the ending, but don’t reveal it on a public forum! Authors eyes only.)


Your recommendation

  • Would you recommend this book to another person?
  • What type of person might like this book?


I love to engage with readers and other authors. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I will always respond.

Now on to the review that launched my Monday. A big thank you to Remmy Meggs in The USA for this.

Title: Beyond the Pyre
Author: Steve Costello
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Austin
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Format: Paperback, Kindle, hardback
Pages: 366

When I read a book about a country that I am not familiar with, I always open a map, so I can follow along with the story line. In this case it was France. As a child a few years ago I went to France, however I do not remember much of the trip. I do remember the boys wearing shorts and of all things either long sleeve shirts or sweaters. Since it was warm out, that didn’t make sense to an eight year old American boy.

I do the same with history, not to prove the author wrong, but to follow his lead. So in this case I looked up the word Cathar, and found as much detail as I could on the subject. To me dates are important in history, not that I memorize them, but there is a difference between Pope Innocent and Pope Alexander.  These are important details for me.

Now about the book Beyond the Pyre by Steve Costello (June 2017) I was told I was pronouncing Pyre wrong by one of my Anglo Saxon friends in Northern England, (South of Scottish England). That is because of the English spelling, the same English that type tyre instead of tire. Confusing.

Now that is out of the way, I found this book a lot different than any other book I have read the last five years. Yes, it is that different. True it only has one goal, and I do not think it is supposed to be scary story, however several times the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and a few times chills went down my spine.

The history of almost any church, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, is full of atrocities, including current events.  However as I read this book, I found so many fascinating things. First of all the characterizations. They were three dimensional, similar to how I write, I do not find three dimensional characters in books very often, so that is a plus. Just about every character was true to life.

The protagonist, actually I was not sure who the main character was because it seemed to me that each person was a main character. Yes it starts out with Ben and Catharine, but it quickly develops into something much more monumental.

American readers will see a difference in dialog, but only because it seems the English use single quotations instead of double quotations, and other minor differences. The subject matter is a matter of opinion, but one thing that grabbed my attention in chapter three I believe, was:

Elionor didn’t believe in the devil despite her Catholic upbringing: human beings created evil and could not lay blame elsewhere. – Steve Costello, Beyond the Pyre

Although I believe that to be true, by the end of the book, you will be in wonder. This is a good versus evil book, just remember that everyone has some good in them, no matter how evil they are.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, not many can write something like this unless they have lived close to it. – Remmy Meggs Nov 2017

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