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Newsletter – July 2019

Welcome to the monthly newsletter of author Tim Walker. This month he has no news, and so will handover to two excellent guests…

Welcome guest author, Michael Pearcy – Mike has been a fan of George Orwell for many years. He has just completed a play called Mrs Orwell which was long listed for in the Kenneth Branagh Playwriting awards. He is working on a one-man show which will explore significant moments in Orwell’s life.

Mike’s plays have been performed in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Gibraltar and Singapore. There have been many performances in the UK including The Union Theatre in Southwark where The Gatekeeper’s True Religion was described by Time Out magazine as ‘…a unique gem’.

His short stories have won awards in various festivals and competitions including the Berkshire Arts Festival and the Woman’s Own short story competition.

As a journalist Mike has covered many and varied subjects ranging from Charles Dickens living in Slough with his young lover, to the story behind the making of the film The King’s Speech.  In his non-fiction writing he is able to combine his experience as a professional photographer with his writing.  Mike is a member of Slough Writers’ Group – check his WEBSITE for more information.

Nineteen Eight-Four – The Novel That Killed George Orwell

By Michael Pearcy

This year is the seventieth anniversary of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s landmark dystopian novel which hit the bookshops on 8th June 1949 – only seven months before he died from tuberculosis, a disease which had haunted him most of his adult life.

No one can say for sure when he contracted TB but the research he undertook for two of his early books put him in regular contact with the highly infectious disease – tuberculosis killed one in seven people before a successful treatment using streptomycin was developed shortly after Orwell died in 1950.

In fact, Orwell’s close friend David Astor, a friend and editor of The Observer, had the drug flown in from America especially for Orwell, but although he made a temporary recovery, the side effects of this early version of the drug prevented further use.  

Although Orwell went to Eton on a scholarship, when he finished there he was not considered bright enough to justify the cost of Oxford or Cambridge which would have been the usual route for someone from his background.

Instead he signed up as an officer with the Imperial Police and selected a posting to Burma where he had lived for the first year of his life. This decision may have been prompted by his father who had been in the Indian Civil Service in the Opium Department.

He resigned after five years and settled in London where he intended to become a writer. Influenced by the author Jack London he decided to investigate the living conditions of the poor in East London which led to his first published Essay The Spike (New Adelphi magazine 1931).

Following this theme, he lived for periods as a homeless man and claimed to have perfected a working-class accent which, apparently, his new companions accepted. In this way he was able to live with tramps (homeless people) in what were known as Spikes (homeless shelters). He also spent time living rough with a group of tramps on their journey to get paid work picking hops in Kent.

After a further period living on the margins of society in Paris he had collected enough material for his first published book: Down and Out In Paris and London published in 1933 by Victor Gollancz.

This success led to publication of Orwell’s Burmese Days (Harper & Brothers 1934) which gave a frank and critical view of the Empire’s oppression and exploitation of the peoples of Burma. He was beginning to carve out a niche for himself as a young writer.

From his very first night in a Spike, Orwell would have known the risks he was taking in exposing himself to tuberculosis. But the only way he could write the truth was to first live that truth. And perhaps this was also the beginning of his personal journey as a socialist.

His dedication to research continued when he lived with coal miners and their families in North-East England in order to write The Road to Wigan Pier (Victor Gollancz 1937)first published in 1937. The first half of the book documents the bleak living conditions amongst the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the terrible working conditions of the men who essentially provided the fuel which powered the nation – coal.

In the second half of the book Orwell discusses the failures of socialism to rescue workers from the worst forms of exploitation. In this passage he declares himself in favour of socialism. This leads him to question British attitudes towards socialism and attack middle class socialists: ‘In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.’

In 1936 he volunteered to fight with the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. As a writer he could have observed the war from a safe hotel in Barcelona with the rest of the press corps. But Orwell went to the front-line trenches and took part in hand to hand combat as a member of the POUM anarchist militia. He meant to join the International Brigade but joined the POUM almost by accident.

This accident was to earn him the experience of living for a period in what he saw as a microcosm of a socialist society where there was no hierarchy, no deference to class and everything was achieved through agreement.

Wanting to be in the thick of it earnt him a fascist bullet in the throat which came within a few millimetres of ending his life. His experiences in Spain equipped him to write Homage to Catalonia (Secker and Warburg) published in 1938.

In Spain he also experienced the dark side of socialism as practised by the communist groups in their suppression of any alternative socialist parties. This reflects what became his major and possibly his over-riding opposition to all forms of totalitarianism expressed through any aspect of political ideology – left, right or centre.

By the beginning of World War Two, at the age of thirty-six, Orwell had established himself as a brave socio/political writer with the publication of four ground-breaking non-fiction books. He had also tried his hand at fiction with three novels – A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) and Coming Up for Air (1939) all published by Victor Gollancz.

Towards the end of his life Orwell instructed that the first two of these novels should not be reprinted which is harsh self-criticism luckily ignored by his literary executors. But a salient fact of life for Orwell was that his writing, despite growing recognition in literary circles, was not earning a decent living for him. His income came mainly from constant article writing for left-wing magazines and newspapers.

Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on June 9th 1936 and they lived a frugal life until the publication of Animal Farm (Secker and Warburg)in 1945. This was a thinly disguised critique of Russian communism made at a time when the post-war world was ready for it, especially in America where the novel was a storming success. Orwell had finally earned himself space and time to write and he could afford to put a stop to all the time-consuming political articles and essays.

He turned his attention to what was to become his defining work – Nineteen Eighty-Four (Secker and Warburg). This was to be the full expression of his life-long opposition to any totalitarian regime. If Animal Farm can be said to show the dangers in the Russian communist version of socialism, Nineteen Eighty-Four explores the dangers of world divisions and an extreme totalitarian society.

Although this period was to be the peak of Orwell the writer, it was also a sad time for Orwell personally. In 1945 his wife Eileen died during an operation to remove cancer tumours.

And his constant companion, the old enemy tuberculosis was standing by to claim him as another victim.

Animal Farm had been a struggle to write and a bigger struggle to publish partly because Russia was a wartime ally and the government wanted Orwell silenced. Mainstream publishers were either scared of such a radical project or simply failed to understand it. At one point, Orwell was making plans to self-publish until Secker and Warburg finally took on the challenge.

Now Orwell was ready to tackle Nineteen Eighty-Four. But his health was failing fast. The stress of publishing Animal Farm followed by the loss of Eileen just a few months after they had adopted Richard, their only child, left George weakened and vulnerable.

After several months in a sanatorium he decided to give up his London life and move to a cottage in Scotland – Barnhill on the remote island of Jura, twenty-five miles from the nearest telephone. He felt this would give him fresh air, ward off TB and the solitude he needed to complete Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The original plan was to go to Jura with Eileen and she had done much of the planning that made the move possible. In the event, Orwell was accompanied by his son Richard, then four years old, his sister Avril Blair as housekeeper and Bill Dunn who would run the smallholding that would produce some of their food.

Now Orwell was able to focus on his novel. Life on Jura was hard especially in the post-war era of food shortages. And Orwell would not let the threat of TB stop him from enjoying time with Richard – even to the point where they both nearly drowned on one of their regular fishing outings.

It was a race to finish the manuscript before Orwell was forced to give in to the effects of his TB. He was struggling with the disease as he worked to type up his final manuscript. In the isolation of Jura it was not possible to employ a typist but even if it had been, Orwell was the only person who could interpret his countless corrections, except of course for Eileen.

By the time the MS was with the publisher, Secker and Warburg, George Orwell was exhausted. He went first to a hospital near Glasgow but eventually moved to Cranham Sanatorium in Gloucestershire.

Orwell received his first copy of his novel in June 1949. Shortly after this he was moved to University College Hospital in London where he died at the end of January 1950. Despite his valiant efforts he could do no more than make plans for another book but no notes exist of what this could have been.

George Orwell could not have guessed that his final work would come to be such a world-wide success but maybe something in him knew that writing it was worth risking his life. When he should have been in hospital fighting TB he stayed at his keyboard dedicated to completing his novel. 

Eileen had been a vital contributor to Orwell’s work. During the planning and writing of Animal Farm she collaborated closely and even acquired the nickname Pig presumably after Napoleon the pig who emerges as the leader at Animal Farm after the rebellion; Eileen’s attributes that led to her being associated with a character based on Joseph Stalin can only be guessed.

In her youth, Eileen wrote a poem called 1984 and it has been suggested that her dystopian view of the future resonated with George Orwell and that the book’s title is in memory of Eileen. The original draft title was Last Man In Europe and the general consensus is that the final title is a reversal of 1948 the year when the book was first completed.

Maybe so, but the idea that Eileen as loving wife and collaborator is commemorated in the title of her husband’s greatest work is very appealing.

SOURCES

George Orwell – A life by Bernard Crick (Secker and Warburg)

The Girl From The Fiction Department – A Portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary Spurling (Hamish Hamilton)

The Lost Orwell by Peter Davison (Timewell Press)

George Orwell English Rebel by Robert Colls (Oxford University Press)

Churchill and Orwell – The Fight For Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks (Duckworth Overlook).

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Joseph Campling. – He moved from the New Town of Bracknell to the famous town of Slough to train as a nurse in the mid 1980’s. During that period, he had to mature from one of life’s innocents into the man he is now (whatever that is!!) Having worked initially within an operating theatre as a scrub nurse, he then re-qualified as a mental health nurse and has worked in various roles ranging from older people with dementia to younger people with serious mental health issues. Whilst undertaking his BSc, he was one of three co-authors of an article which was published in a professional journal in 2007.

As a child he was a voracious reader and started writing poems at the age of nine – one about scarecrows and another about a woman being swallowed by a crocodile while still having her handbag on her arm. He developed a love of English language and literature at school and continued to write poems as ideas came to him.

From 2010 he found himself scribbling his thoughts down on bits of paper, envelopes, mobile phone which thanks to ‘new technology’ he was able to keep safe.  At the age of 50, he discovered open mic, but due to having the singing voice of a frog being strangled and the guitar skills to match, he resorted to reading out some of this saved work.               

In May 2017 he self- published “Mild Musings May Mitigate My Mentality” which was his first collection of poems and having learned from the process has published another volume of ‘words’ “Merring or is it Mrs Gren.”  The title came from a conversation which the author had with his daughter about a mnemonic to remember the seven signs of life.

Outside writing and performing, his interests include history, watching live music, trying to play the guitar (still project in progress) and quizzing. He also likes to watch TV; mostly factual documentaries, comedy and quiz shows. He also ‘hangs out’ with members of the local drama club which is his children and wife’s passion, although he has no plans to act .He also needs to read more and swears that he will do so very soon as he has a pile of books to read. He follows rugby and can sometimes be found cheering his team on (London Irish) whether they win or lose.  He also has a passion for Liverpool Football Club.

BUY LINK – Merring or Is it Mrs Gren?

BUY LINK – Mild Musings May Mitigate Mentality

REAL LIFE SOAP

The vast opera of my life explodes

As the prima donna wants to take the stage

She is projected as some blond Valkyrie

Expounding Wagnerian hymns and arias

I mentality hear the words “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

Well from now on I’m on a diet

I need to keep away from the slippery slope

That my love is sliding over

The fantasy that I can change is false

I played the role that I was given

I remember the audition the casting couch

Now I feel that I don’t know the words or the actions

No direction no script

I could hide in plain sight like a chameleon

Some know I am there, but I believe that I am invisible

You can walk on by -get on with life

You still do not see it right before your eyes

Even if you looked you would stop caring

You ignore the chaos left like the running of metaphorical bulls

Be careful as the two worlds which you inhabit collide

As you explore all my vocal expressions through the din

Lies you say- lies!!  As the tapestry of my being is ripped to shreds

ADDICT

I need my daily fix- I cannot survive

I don’t know what I’m going to do- it makes me feel alive

I open the foil and inhale the odours

To check on the quality that the guy had sold us

I turn on the heat- get out the spoon

Check the time is opportune

I look around to check I’m alone

As for this transgression I’ll have to atone

The wife says I’ve got no willpower

I’ll not last more than a few hours

It’ll involve trawling the streets

To score some of my favourite treats

I have tried to go cold turkey

Giving up has made my thoughts murky

I think of the positives of being abstinent

From this body contaminant

I set up the paraphernalia

A reminder of my abject failure

To kick the habit of this stuff

I know that I am finding it tough

I had to go to a dealer on a street corner

Was this the produce of some foreign farmer?

It was imported for the British market

Advertised as one of their best harvests

I measure out the right amount

It been so long to do without

Some brown sugar for you and me

The best way to enjoy coffee

Newsletter – June 2019

AUTHOR NEWS…. Arthur Dux Bellorum e-book price promotion is running from 1st – 5th June – download your copy now!

Kindle & Paperback Link i-books, kobo, nook, other link
Welcome to Poet’s Corner… ANNA JONES

A founder member of the Herschel Arms Writers, Anna Jones is a creative producer, writer and theatre maker – connecting words & images, places & people to create art, ideas & change. 

Her place-based work explores heritage and how people respond and resonate with their local history today. She discovers, celebrates and shares stories from her home & work place of Slough & surrounds and her heart & roots place of Dartmoor & Devon.

Please see a selection of Anna’s poetry on The Innerverse YouTube channel. Please check out her website

Caroline charts the story of 18th century Slough based astronomer Caroline Herschel. The piece featured in an Arts Council commissioned play written by Anna and performed in her house in Upton Road where the Herschel family once lived. It was selected to be performed at the opening of The Curve theatre venue and to celebrate International Women’s Day.  

Our Special Relationship was written in response to The New York Times call for poems in reaction to the 2017 election of Trump and was published on the New York Times website.

Anna Jones at the Innerverse

Join in at The Innerverse every last Wednesday of the month at The Herschel Arms in Slough. This poetry, spoken word & comedy night has just marked its first year Innerversary and these films were made as part of these celebrations. This regular open mic night is a welcoming community of poets/lyricists /MCees/wordsmiths/spokenword artists/comics

The Innerverse is especially encouraging of first-time performers as we know the nerves and courage it takes to perform.

Anna is currently directing and producing an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate and mark the 80th anniversary of Windsor Theatre Guild.

Celebrate 80 years of Windsor Theatre Guild this summer with our outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s most enduring and enchanting play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. BOOK TICKETS

Bring family and friends, food and fizz to the beautiful private settings of Foxleigh Grove where we will be conjuring up midsummer mystery and mayhem.

Join fairies, lovers and our passionate players so that, like Bottom the Weaver, you can be moved, maybe even transformed, by the magic of theatre.

Picnics from 6.30pm, show starts at 8pm July 4th, 5th, 6th & 11th, 12th, 13th.


Lady Howard of Tavistock
 
I’m Mary with a story, which many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who condemn us all to hell.
 
My own tale is a cursed one, that’s told from days of yore
Five hundred long years I’ve travelled, across the wild Dartmoor
In a ghostly ghastly carriage made from the bones of six dead men
It carries me nightly and forever to Oakhampton and home again
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
 
I’ll begin at the beginning, with the bones of him who died first
John Fitz once lord of Fitzford House, our home now with me cursed
Daddy John inherited a vast fortune, but our fortune was brief
It drove him insane and set my path: an eternity of grief
The Fitzford wealth it earnt him, more enemies than silver groats
He killed friend and foe, his craz’d mind hooked on slitting rivals’ throats
Those who spill it they soon come to learn, blood can’t be washed with gold
I found him slashed by his own hand, I’m an orphan, nine years old.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who send us all to hell.
 
Alone, young, rich and female, I need protecting from false claims
How naïve to think my earthly saviour could ever be righteous King James
Pious bastard sold me like a chattel to the Earl of Northumberland
Was only a child when he tired of me and gave his brother my wedded hand
As abused and trapped and frightened as the poor creatures he hunted for glory
I beseeched mother earth and all of her beasts to remove him from my story
Nature is red in tooth and claw, soon horn and hoof his gizzards gore
Hunter is hunted and dead man two, I’m your prey no more.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who drive us all to hell.
 
I ran away with my sweetheart, married in secret to fair Thomas
My life it finally felt full of hope, future brimming with such promise
But you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a tale where happiness will last
Just a few months of joy ‘til tragedy when my one true love he passed
The pain and grieving will never stop for my dead man who went third
Was still in black weeds and just sixteen when forced to wed John Howard
Hid from him my every penny: “Sir do you not love me poor?”
This stayed as unknown as the causes of death of this dead man number four.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who take us all to hell.
 
I rue the day I met my final husband Sir Richard Grenville
Used fire and fists to harm me, locked me up against my will
Star chamber found him vile and violent sent him straight to Lydford Gaol
On escaping he revelled in torment and terror on a far much larger scale
When brother turned against brother and England she was bleeding
‘Twas turncoat rich warred for both sides as general and was leading
Parliament ‘gainst royals and vice versa ’til no troops were left alive
This traitor, Skellum, Gren-villain is the bones of dead man five.
 
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who doom us all to hell.
 
I’m way past the point of white weddings now, I’ll only take a lover
Although as a wife I’ve truly failed, I try and be a better mother
Head home to Tavistock with George my boy, but me and luck don’t mix
The fates they deal my last mortal blow and make him dead man six
My heart and earthly body breaks, soul taken, no longer my own
I’m cast as a black widow, with a black dog to match, in a carriage made from bone.
 
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
 
Legend is not kind to females, especially when bold, brave and beautiful
It warns all girls throughout all time to be decent, dull and dutiful
I’m a woman with a story, but aren’t all our sex damned as well?
Leave those men and your life behind you my dear, come and ride with me to hell…
 
Anna jones ©2017

Newsletter – May 2019

Arthur Dux Bellorum Wins Book Awards

April proved to be a good month for Arthur Dux Bellorum, book four in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It has been well-received with positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and two book awards from notable sources. Here are the awards citations:

The Coffee Pot Book Club Award

“Following in the footsteps of the great Arthurian authors, Walker has penned a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in all its mythological traditions. Drawing on the works of Monmouth, Nennius and Welsh folklore, he has presented a hero who has to desperately fight a seemingly invincible foe to win his throne and take his place in British history.

Walker’s compelling narrative caught my attention from the opening sentence. The author’s careful blend of mystery, treachery, deceit, war, honour, and the knightly code made this book unputdownable. The skilfully described battle scenes were so real in the telling that I could almost taste the terror and the chaos as our intrepid hero fought for not only his life, but for the throne and the kingdom which was rightfully his. All of which is set against a very believable historical backdrop.

The forces of good and evil run through the heart of this book. Morgana’s desire for power is as seemingly unstoppable as the tide. She is determined to secure her son’s throne. However, one could surmise that it is not in Mordred’s interest that Morgana is so despotic in her ambition to vanquish her enemies, but in her own insatiable lust for power. Morgana is often portrayed as the anti-hero in the story of Arthur, but I thought Walker brought a refreshingly new take on the character. She is deplorable, but at the same time she drives this story forward, and I found myself holding my breath as she continued to plot and scheme to thwart her adversaries.

In comparison to Morgana, her half-siblings, and in particular Artorius (the young Arthur), came across as level headed and for the most part compassionate. Artorius does struggle with some of the things he has done, particularly in the heat of battle, which I think gave his character a tremendous depth, and made him very believable.

Likewise, Merlyn was a character I enjoyed reading about. His ingenuity and his use of the tools available to him made his story compulsively readable. I enjoyed following his progression throughout this wonderful book.

There are several secondary characters that fans of Arthurian fiction will be familiar with — Gawain, Percival, Bors and Tristan — all of whom Artorius looks up to for advice. I thought these characters were well fleshed, and I look forward to reading more about them in the next edition of this remarkable series.

Like a heroic poem from times of old, Tim Walker’s Arthurian saga continues to mesmerise. A must read for those who love everything Arthurian, but also for those who have a keen interest in the Dark Ages. I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club, April 2019

One Stop Fiction Book Award

“This is a very well written reinvention of the myth that portrays Arthur not as a superhero but as a sometimes-conflicted young man. He is not quite sure that he is meant to be king but is led by Merlyn to accept his role. He questions his paternity, is often disgusted by the brutality he witnesses, and yet becomes an inspirational leader of men.

Many of the familiar characters are present in Arthur Dux Bellorum: Merlyn, Gawain, Percival, Geraint, Gunamara (Guinevere), Morgana, and Mordred. Mainly these characters are fleshed-out to be well-defined and human.

It would be interesting to see what the author would do with the later Arthur and Gunamara story as well as with the legend of the Round Table.

The story moves at a fast pace with several battle scenes that were marvellous to read. The narrative switches points of view between Arthur and his mother and sisters who are living in the shadow of Morgana and Mordred. This alternation serves well to highlight the attempts to unify the British tribes under one rule.

One of the best aspects of the novel is the picture it paints of Britain after the Romans had left. This is a divided and beset land, subject to invasion by outsiders and by wars between rival tribes. It was very interesting to learn that parts of the Roman legacy remained in surviving towns and forts and in military tactics. The conflicts between the old and new religions, between warring chieftains, between Britons and the foreign invaders were all beautifully set out.

As an American reader, I often found myself wondering exactly where in England the story was taking place. For authenticity, it is important to use the names of towns as they were at the time. However, it was a bit difficult, even with the author’s list of place names at the beginning of the novel, to follow the movement of Arthur’s company. Because of that, I would strongly recommend that anyone who reads this read it in a hard cover or paperback edition and not on an e-reader. Readers who like to follow the plot with maps of the area should avoid will find it impossible to read the maps that appear on the e-reader edition.

This is a small complaint, but it is nearly impossible to find anything to dislike about this book.

The author is to be applauded for making yet another re-telling of the Arthurian legend fascinating and suspenseful. I would very much like to see one more book in the series to bring the rest of the legend to life. Arthur Dux Bellorum is a highly recommended book and winner of the One Stop Fiction Book Awards.”

By Kathleen Lance, Book Reviewer, onestopfiction.com

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Richard Tyner

One of the Herschel Arms Poets, Richard was born in the boondocks outside of the town of Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland. He has very fond memories of growing up in Ros Beg and indeed the first eighteen years of life in rural tranquillity.

Richard does not see himself as a poet and if pushed describes his work as that of a rhymer. It has long been his ambition to write songs. As he said they were just rhymes, until my talented friends gave them tunes.

One of his collaborators has uploaded two of the songs to Soundcloud. Search for them under the names of Bogman and Ian Brown UK.

Thinking back his first writing was in the years 1972 to 1976. First date is Marriage, second date birth of first child. In true fashion he put aside foolish activities and concentrated on career and family.

He is pleased to report that hardly any of his rhymes from back in those days have survived. The memory of living in Ireland is forever in his heart and in order to maintain his accent he visits there whenever he gets the chance.

In 1967 his Mother took her 8 children to Peterborough England. Richard started work as a computer operator, then, after ten years, moved to Shell Oils. Closure of the local office necessitated a change of career, this time resulting in a management role in a publishing house. He was head hunted by the TSB to work in Norfolk as an investment advisor. Two years later he became self employed and continued as an IFA until the onset of Parkinson’s brought about early retirement. He has since then been busier and happier than any other period of his life.

Married forty-seven years he counts himself lucky and is still trying to figure out why his wife is still with him. Cheryl has been heard to say, “that he would trouble the patience of a saint”.

He loves music across all genres but admits his guilty pleasure is Country music citing the likes of Waylon and Willie. Townes van Zant, Hank Williams. He is a mean quizzer specialising in songs and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. He likes travel and wishes he had rhythm, balance and a bigger pension.

A SONG WITHOUT WORDS

I wrote a song that had no words

Just the sighing of trees

The chirrup of birds.

The rhythm of rain

 Turning into snow

Bluebells in dells

A choir of crows

Humming honey bees

Harmonise with the breeze

Waltzing holly hocks

A flotilla of leaves

Sprites using dandelions

To tell the time

Cascading waterfalls

Crescendo and climb

 songs of the rivers

as they flow through the glens

Sometimes angry at the way of men

This world is an opera

The finest ever heard

It has no conclusion

An aria without words.                   

ALL THOSE YEARS AGO (Westport)

I am not sure why I am here

I am not sure what it all means

Time goes around in circles

I live my life in dreams.

I was born by the ocean side

I never learned to swim

A flat stone leaving ripples

Won’t you follow the circles in.

I met you all those years ago

In a city far from the sea

You fed me a breakfast

I stayed for lunch and tea.

Your bark and bite are the same

Not all lines are on my face

Father hear my confession

So I can die in a state of grace.

Mother hear me calling

In the hills above the clouds

Father won’t you tell me

Why were you alone in crowds?

Its almost gone full circle

I am in the dying years

I have questions without answers

I weep without the tears

The breeze is blowing cold

I stand on Ros Beg shore

I hear the curlew calling

It will soon be time to go.

This place is in my heart

I fished here many times

Some came here before me

Many more will bait their lines

I wonder if they listened

To wiser men than me

Will they take greater care

So this world’s a better place to be.

NO TIME FOR REGRETS

I have no need of clocks or watches

It’s enough to know night from day

Sometimes I only sleep for minutes

To dream in blues and pastels grey

I often think of my old friends

It was my luck to know

Of the country where I was born

Those generations that had to go.

Mothers at the garden gate,

 Letter’s that never come

Waiting for the return

Of their husband or a son.

In time they would return

These restless worn out men,

To walk alone along the shore

Stopping every now and then

I sometimes shook a hand

Occasionally shared a glass

Those that talked were rare at all

Most let the moment pass

They had lived so long alone

The need to send home pay

Turning boys into bitter men

They got lost along the way.

They do not seem to notice

Life is passing fast, but

You cannot foretell the future

You cannot change the past

Once more the young are leaving

Hearts heavy as a stone

They gather in their ghettos

To sing their songs of home.

Instead live every moment

Let your life take flight

Live like there is no tomorrow

One of these day’s you will be right!!!

© R G Tyner 26/09/2018

Newsletter – April 2019

SUCCESSFUL BOOK LAUNCH – ARTHUR DUX BELLORUM

The launch went well and with the addition of pre-ordered e-books, sales on Amazon drove it into the top ten in the ‘Alternative History’ category. It hung around in the ‘Top New Releases in Alternative History’ rankings for a couple of weeks – thanks to those of you who bought it. Reviews on amazon.co.uk have been good and are into double figures at time of writing.

I’d like to thank the following for featuring Arthur Dux Bellorum’s launch package on their book review blogs:

Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

English Historical Fiction Authors

Black Books Blog

Hair Past a Freckle

AF Stewart’s Book Blog

Linda Hill blog and review (Linda’s Book Bag)

Claire Buss author interview (A Slice of Cake)

Juliet Butler (Book Literati)

Susan Hampson blog and review (Books From Dusk ‘Till Dawn)

Eric Klein (Friday Features interview)

Jenny Kane Book Blog

Grace Reviewer Lady Book Blog (included review by John)

Jane Risdon’s Book Blog

Emma Mitchel’s Little Book Worm Blog (Character spotlight on Arthur)

Nancy Jardine’s Book Blog

Melanie Smith’s Book Blog (review)

Julia Sutton book blog interview

Michelle Connor blog interview

If I’ve missed you, sorry! If you have a book blog and would like to feature me then please get in touch. Thanks everyone! The indie author support network is a strong as ever.

My buy links are: PaperbackAmazon Kindle universalApple i-book, Kobo, Nook, other

Michelle Connor

This month I’m delighted to welcome fellow British indie author, Michelle Connor.

Michelle lives on the North East coast of England in a town called Grimsby. She’s been with her husband for twenty-one years. They have three children together. Their youngest is sixteen. She is the princess of the family and has two older brothers. As well as writing Michelle loves to paint, draw, and take lots of photographs. She has a great intrigue for history and spends many a summers day hunting for castles and ruins to visit. I think this comes through in her first novella series as it is set in the medieval era.

Please visit her website for more.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I had poetry published when I was fifteen, but I didn’t realize I wanted to write fiction books until I was in my thirties.

What genre books do you write? Fantasy with a heart.

What is the name of your book/books? The Bound: Hers to Save Series. Where Ravens Soar: Nine World Protection Agency Series.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? To not give up writing because life got in the way.

Does your family support your career as a writer? It depends on the day.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Not using clique dialogue every now and then.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Both. I can be crying at a sad scene while I write it and shouting at the screen if someone dies I wasn’t expecting too or laughing at something funny a character does or says. I’m a complete pantser and maybe a little crazy too.

What items do you surround yourself with when you write? Music and sometimes reference books.

What is your favourite genre of books to read? Epic Fantasy, but my guilty pleasure is romance books.

What is your favourite childhood book? Flowers in the attic.

Do you have a favourite author or one who inspires you to write? Joel Shepherd.

What words of wisdom would you give to someone who wants to be an author? Read lots, and when you start the first draft just write. Don’t worry about your spelling or if it’s any good. Get the words on the page and worry about all the rest during the many rounds of edits which are to come. And those will come, boy will they come.

Book Link1

US Book Link

John Karlicuk

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, John Karlicuk…

“I was born in Slough 1950 (maybe 8pm) half Ukrainian half Irish, thus the name John Ivan O’Karliciuk.

I spent my early years in Wexford Eire living with my grandparents till my parents could decide if they wanted me and had saved up for my boat ticket to England. I went to St Joseph’s Roaming Catholic School in Slough and spent my childhood roaming about running away from home and even travelling back to Wexford twice on a platform ticket as of course the fare was more than 6 pence. At school I mainly played truant as I had no musical talent. I began to write at a very young age (mainly on lavatory doors).

I had many types of employment trainee supermarket manager, trainee male nurse, office jobs and countless manufacturing jobs. I never found my niche and work sadly prevented me following my dreams of being a playboy layabout. I tried to join the RAF in 1969 but they were shut that day. Also, my strange name smelled of Soviet Spy. I married early about 11am. The marriage didn’t work out but at least I hadn’t wasted the whole day! I met a wonderful Lady and travelled extensively to America, Australia, Egypt and Europe. I have many interests and have been in amateur dramatics and also a local writers’ group along with my cousin and good friend Mary Parris. I would describe my unique writing style as ‘progressive garbage’ My passion is searching for the meaning of life and when I find it, I’ll disclose it in a poem…”

POETIC MUSINGS…

In Taplow’s historic village, a stones’ throw from the Thames

In a weathered crumbling churchyard stands one of England’s gems

Wildflowers in the hedgerows

Welcome ramblers on their way

To sacred ground and Taeppa’s Mound from an Anglo-Saxon day

Taplow was named from Taeppa Low the Saxon prince entombed below

Twelve centuries chief Taeppa slept this burial mound his secrets kept.

In the British museum his royal grave goods now are stored

A golden buckle-drinking horns

Rich textiles and his sword

I wondered back to the village Inn

The charming Oak and Saw

To take a drink-reflect and think

My mind still filled with awe

Long have I lived near Taplow

Yet of its wealth I never knew

Just a stone throw from the Thames a gem like Sutton Hoo.

I slap on the makeup my best to look

Then post my selfie on Facebook

I hide the way I am and feel

So, my Life looks so ideal

Of my reality you have no notion

You only get my self-promotion

It seems sometimes that life’s on hold

That so much data’s made us cold

No meat and veg, its sugars n’ jam

And Life is one great pile of spam.

Children once went out to play

But now its x-box night and day

Too much sitting-little walking

Too much texting little talking

To old eyes it seems a mess

Can this really be progress?

We’ve left our tribe and village bliss

Now lost inside Metropolis

What if the computers are human haters

Sent from our future terminators?

They promised Wonders to inspire us

But seeded in our brains a Virus.

I noticed it back in the time of Thatcher’s

The invasion of the Body Snatchers

So, are people changing?

Growing mechanistic selfish colder

Or am I just a Luddite with silicon

Chips upon my shoulder?


May I introduce Lady History?

She’s enthralling-Dark-Mysterious

But much of what you’ll hear of her

You shouldn’t take too serious.

She’s Hot! She’s very Spicy!

Can give intense heartburn

She does seem to repeat on us

We mortals never learn!

I’ve heard a bit about her-would love to learn some more.

Some say she’s an Angel, some say just a Whore.

One thing you’ll discover when she

Wines and dines.

She wears a ton of make up

To hide her many lines.

So, wear your finest dinner jacket!

Look your best you can’t go wrong

For Lady History so admires

The Wealthy and the Strong.

Lady History will seduce you

Dressed in fine Lace and Satin.

There is no book she hasn’t read

And she loves to speak in Latin.

But imagine not she cares for you!

In her no Love you’ll find.

She sweeps all suitors from the stage

And casts them out of mind.

Newsletter – March 2019

Author News

Well, after nine months of research, plotting, writing and hand-wringing, the fourth book in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum, is finally good to go. I’ve formatted it for e-book (on a variety of platforms) and paperback. I love the cover, and feel the Fates (as the Romans would have it) smiled on me the day I saw Gordon Napier’s stunning picture, entitled ‘Arthur Dux Bellorum’ on deviantart.com.

My cover designer, Cathy Walker, added her magic and the end result is a cover I can be proud of. We decided to let the whole picture cover the page, and not block-out the bottom to conform with the previous covers in the series.

Rather than bore you with self- praise (lol), I decided to throw the gauntlet to my keen proof reader and critic partner, Linda Oliver, to tell it from her perspective. She has been on board since book one, and quite honestly, I would have given up, racked by self-doubt, a long time ago if it wasn’t for her support and emailed kicks-up-the-backside. Writing can be a lonely business…

My buy links are: Paperback

Amazon Kindle Universal

Apple i-book, Kobo, Nook, other

First, catch your… writer – by Linda Oliver

I caught my writer on an online fiction forum. Tim had set out his idea to write a series of novels about how life changed for fifth century Britons after the Romans left. It would end with King Arthur’s death, about a hundred years later.  I did a double take.  I’m still sulking because I lent my childhood copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table twenty years ago, and never saw it again, so the topic appealed to me. Also, I was charmed by the epic scale of the Boy’s Own Adventure project. But I thought a novice fiction writer would get lost in it. Tim Walker’s a nice nom de plume, I thought, wordplay on the literary time travel he’s embarked on. I was wrong about that too.

 Tim had posted an extract from the first incarnation of ‘Abandoned’, with a request for feedback. I read, admiring the pleasing balance between narrative and dialogue, the clear point of view and the vivid settings, and then I forgot I was reading for a purpose and my imagination took over. I enjoyed the idea of Marcus Aquilius, a young character whose father had been a Roman soldier and whose mother was a Briton, a sorceress in the eyes of some. I could see him torn. Should he view the departure of a Roman legion as an opportunity to advance himself, or a cause for dismay? When his mother gave him a tunic on which she’d stitched her own design, he was touched, but took it off so that his men wouldn’t see him in it, which reminded me of me, taking off my knitted bonnet with its chin strap at my gate. Not in recent times, obviously.

Linda Oliver lives in a beautiful corner of Britain – the Yorkshire Dales

 When I finished reading, I was smiling, but I realised I’d noted a few pointers and had a strong urge to look up the number of people living in Britannia at this time. I’ve always had a weakness for seeking demographic insight. So there I was, shimmying down into the role of invited busybody. This writer deserved praise because the story set out clearly, in a varied manner, what was happening in the wider Roman Empire, in the town and in the family of Marcus Aquilius. Its complexity opened out gradually. And then the characters sprang into action. So I told him all this.

But there were questions. Once I’d become a regular sounding board for Tim, we discussed issues related to style. Would the screenplay style in the early version of ‘Abandoned’ be suitable and sustainable for a series? That’s a lot of externalising, heavy going for writer and reader. And how should the dialogue sound? I accepted the characters are statesmen and scholars, as well as soldiers, in this version of the past. They need to articulate developed ideas, despite the likelihood of them swinging a sword through their enemy before the end of the same chapter. And who is it for? Adult and young adult readers?

 As the series has progressed, every novel has taken on a slightly different style, and the military leaders focus on different regions of Britannia. The protagonists also bring contrasting back stories and personal qualities. The second book in the saga, Ambrosius, is about a character with a vision for his homeland, one who chooses to pursue it, whereas the other leaders have responsibilities thrust upon them. They are all the standout individuals of their generation. They’re not cosy,  spending their lives wearing a groove in The Devil’s Highway and Ermine Street, driven to drag hesitant lads to confront foreign raiders, or usurpers in their midst. They are the characters making hard decisions when there is a plague to be contained, or taxes must be raised to feed an army.       

The novels reflect Tim’s knowledge and interest, and his ability to bake the chewy plots that keep me reading. The latest instalment,’ Arthur, Dux Bellorum’, out now, is no exception. Readers of Uther’s Destiny will find the story unexpected from the start, and Merlyn and Artorius continually find the challenges ahead throw up unpredicted twists. The noise and energy of armed conflicts drive the adventure, and one of the features of a novel with such an array of characters is that we reader knows they won’t all make it to the next instalment of the saga, no matter how familiar they may be. So that keeps up the tension for me.

 I can’t guarantee I haven’t noticed that a gas poker has been introduced in a roundhouse, or a woman married off to her uncle, but I think I’ve raised all the issues I felt a need to raise. In fact, that’s why I’m in this newsletter. When our esteemed author tapped out a fate worse than death for a character in one of those last minute strokes I’ve learned to expect from him just before a book’s launch date, I set out a reasoned argument why they should be spared, based on continuity, gender power in the novel (I know), and demands of the plot. So, out of gratitude for clemency being shown to an imaginary woman, I’m showing myself ‘front of house’.

 Yes, I’ve loved helping on this project, and the more time and thought I’ve committed to it, the more I feel invested in the series. It’s an accessible interpretation of history, a possible version of a mysterious era of great fluidity, and I found it an informative as well as an entertaining read. My greatest wish was that the eponymous hero should get out of the novel alive… now, that would be telling.

Welcome to Poet’s Corner – Mary Parris

I grew up in Slough, Buckinghamshire, with a shillelagh in one hand and a pen or paint brush in the other. From an early age I started writing little ditties and creating odd paintings. I was lucky to have travelled extensively and lived for a while in California and various other places. However, family ties brought me back to Slough which had then moved to Berkshire!!

I enjoy trying new things (as long as they are legal!) be it Morris dancing, Salsa, Tai Chi. You name it, I’ll try it.  I sang with a West Indian Steel band for a number of years, studied various art forms including Zentangle, Batik, acting, folk art, and poetry which I enjoy the most.

Whatever pops in my mind hits the paper. Silly, sad, romantic, strange, wherever my mood takes it. My paintings and writing have been described as ‘quirky’. I am happy with that. I like the idea that I can dance to the beat of my own drum….

DO NOT SEE ME…

walk as not to know me.

shush. do not see me.

do not glimpse

or make our eyes meet.

I am a whisper of life

dancing on tip toe,

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

I move stealthily, glide so i do not

tremble the waters,

stir the heavens, tempt the devil.

I feel I cannot breathe

trying to control

spirit that emanates from me.

trying to stay hidden.

I am a whisper of life.

dancing on tip toe.

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

if there is a god,

I do not want to wake it.

if there is a Satan

I do not want to tease it.

ignore me. leave me be.

I can carry no more.

I am forsaken from joy.

what sins are upon me

that I fear each new day

will strike a deeper blow

within my heart

that already bleeds its love.

if there is a god,

why is he not kind to me?

cradling my soul.

or is it that he has twinned with

the fallen angel

to torment me.

generous with his maladies,

touching those I love

with his demon fingers.

my thoughts cry,

my tears cry. my heart cries,

my pain, my soul, my life cries.

enough, enough, you bastards.

you have forsaken me.

I will forsake you.

you have burned me enough.

I will believe in no one

but myself.

I will pray to no one

but myself.

I will defy you.

we will defy you.

you do not see me.

I will not see you.

I am a whisper of life

dancing on tip toe,

leaving no footprints

to catch me.

Mary Parris – 26.9.17

THE MODEL

Did I say I’m a model?

I love to preen and pout

and if the money’s generous

I’ll get my tutu out.

I don’t ‘ave o levels

not even an A you see

but I can boast a prefect’s badge

and an amazing double D.

I’ve modelled for the camera club,

was a pin up in 2008,

I did topless for the paper sun

but me photo did not rate.

I was queen of the night in Benidorm,

did some shoots in Wigan town,

then me tan got overloaded

and I went an orange brown.

Me face is quite unique

they say, and me hair’s like

golden honey,

and though I get a little bored

I just think of the money.

I look good in my pink tutu

with my curvy figure eight,

tho not in me fleshy tights

as I’m a little overweight.

and tho I am a model

I am brainy as well.

I do walk ons at dart shows

and pose in bikini’s in Bracknell.

I’ve got a big show Sunday

the best I’ve had so far.

I’ll be sitting on a mini

in Slough’s Herschal Bar.

me mum is excited

tho me dad thinks it’s funny

but I like being a model

cos I like the easy money.

Mary Parris – 30.1.2018

NEXT!

Next time I see you, I will come to your table and say hello.

That’s if my shy, nervous heart will let me.

Or maybe I should just stay in the background, worship you from afar.

But next time you may not be alone and my chance shall be lost.

I imagine you are one of those ‘new men’ all metric, meditation

and mindfulness, whilst I am more of a pound, shilling and pence

kind of girl and next to modern models of makeup, botox and buttocks,

I’m more your Betty Rubble than Betty Boop,

Your Bette Davis than Bette Milder. 

Ah, but next time you may pass me by like you did yesterday,

deep in conversation with your phone. 

I stepped aside for you, heart pounding with hope, expectation.

I think you nodded but you really did not see me.

You have never really seen me.

All my smiles and polite conversation lost in the wilderness of translation,

if there ever was any.

Maybe I’ll just stay in the shadows, me and my aching heart

and forget about this enchantment and yearning for you.

And so, what next?

Next time, hopefully the thrill of you will have eased, softened, ebbed away. Maybe.

…Maybe next time!

Mary Parris – 6.8.18

CHAT FROM THE CAT

Tis I, Cat,

and yes, I saw you sneak in

lifting your heavy foot over me

to climb the stairs in silence.

Your other half sleeping fitfully

unaware of your bawdiness

and debauchery.

Plus, you forgot to feed me today.

Me your ginger mog star

who keeps the mice at bay.

And I don’t like those crunchy morsels

with soft centres.

But did you ask? No.

Your piece of haddock

smelled much more interesting

though you did not have to shout

when I licked it…

But this tom foolery will have to stop.

Waking me in the midnight hour

reeking of who knows what.

Even I have stopped mooching about

for a piece of the action.

All that noisy meowing and yodelling.

And you should know better.

What would the neighbours say?

What would your kids say?

And your other half?

Probably dreaming of the two of you

running hand in hand

somewhere exotic

like Bognor…

And me ow do you think I feel

when you whisper your doings

whilst stroking my tail,

thinking I’m cat napping?

I might be a cat

but I’m not catatonic.

I hear ya, I see ya, I smell ya.

And at your age.

All that beer and belching,

foul talk and farting.

Keep that up and I may move

to the Murphy’s at no 5.

But if you feed me whiskers

or fish I’ll stay.

But stop acting like you’re a tom cat.

You’re a shemale

with your hemale tucked up

cozy snoring the night away.

Go join him.

And if you do go to Bognor

I’d like some fresh eel.

Oh, and by the way,

I finished your haddock.

G’night…   Cat…

Mary Parris – 2019 �=

Newsletter – November 2018

OK, I’ve changed my mind. I admit it. In March I published book three in my historical series, A Light in the Dark AgesUther’s Destiny – with the announcement that me work was complete. The series was finished. I had intended to join the end of Roman Britannia to the coming of King Arthur. Uther’s Destiny ends with the boy Artorius drawing the sword from the stone in a cunning plan devised by Merlyn.
Well, seven months on, I’ve decided to continue the series and write a fourth book. I had initially baulked at the prospect of writing a King Arthur story (oh no, not another one!) but, having mulled it over and done some further reading around the subject, have found a way in – a glimmer of a storyline. So, I’m heading in – wish me luck! I’ve also decided to follow the same plotting and writing plan that led to Uther’s Destiny last year. This involved researching, writing a plot outline, character lists and a first half chapter plan in October, and then crashing out a first draft (or at least the first 50,000 words) in November, using the framework of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
My novel title is: Arthur Dux Bellorum and I’ve even found a picture I’d like to use for the cover. I found this on a site called DeviantArt and tracked down its owner. I have agreed a fee with him to use it for commercial purposes, and have sent it to my cover designer, Cathy Walker, to see what she can do with it. Here’s the picture…

NaNoWriMo – www.nanowrimo.org
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, about 400,000 participants from all over the World began working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. November is a bit of a nothing month – wedged between the end of summer and the start of the madness of Christmas – so perfect for putting aside the 2-3 hours a day that is required to maintaining an average of 1,666 words a day to hit the 50,000-word target (evenings and weekends take most of strain).
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Mr. NaNo says: “Our experiences since 1999 show that 50,000 words is a challenging but achievable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. This is about the length of The Great Gatsby. We don’t use the word “novella” because it doesn’t seem to impress people the way “novel” does. We define a novel as “a lengthy work of fiction.” Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you’re writing falls under the heading of “novel.” In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.”

Pep Talk From Neil Gaiman

From the NaNo Archives, I’ve found this inspirational Pep Talk from bestselling author, Neil Gaiman…
Dear NaNoWriMo Author,
By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.
Welcome to the club.
That’s how novels get written.
You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interlocking stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It’s a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn’t build it it won’t be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.
The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.
The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”
I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Not really.”
“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”
I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.
So, I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.
One word after another.
That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.
So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.
Pretty soon you’ll be on the downward slide, and it’s not impossible that soon you’ll be at the end. Good luck…
Neil Gaiman

Newsletter – September 2018

This month my guest author is the fabulous and talented Mary Anne Yarde. She has a new book out in her Arthurian legend series, The Du Lac Chronicles. I have enjoyed reading this series and look forward to reading the fourth book, The Du Lac Prophecy.
More on that later. First, let me briefly bring you up to date with what’s happening in my creative writing world…

NEW BOOK OUT SOON – CHARLY & THE SUPERHEROES
Following on from The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2016), my daughter Cathy and I have written a new adventure, which we intend to launch on (or close to) 19th September.
The ideas came from Cathy, who’s new love is Superheroes movies. “Hey, Dad, why don’t we write a story where Charly goes on a studio tour in Hollywood and gets asked to take the place of a child actor who is sick in a new superheroes movie?!!”
So, we kicked the idea around during our summer holidays and came up with – Charly & The Superheroes.
We found an illustrator with cartoon experience through www.upwork.com and put up a proposal with a crude sketch showing the concept. The illustrator made the drawing and designed the cover, matching as closely as possible the fonts and style of the first book cover. We’re quite happy with the results… what do you think?

This month’s guest author is…
Mary Anne Yarde the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling series — The Du Lac Chronicles.

Mary grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were a part of her childhood.

1. Hi Mary and thanks for guesting on my blog. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the Du Lac Chronicles?

For well over a thousand years we have been enchanted with the tales of King Arthur and his Knights. Arthur’s story has everything – loyalty, betrayal, love, hate, war and peace, and like all good stories, there isn’t a happy ending for our hero. Arthur is betrayed by his best friend, Lancelot, and then he is betrayed once again by his nephew, Mordred. Arthur’s reign comes to a dramatic and tragic end on the battlefield at Camlann.

When Arthur died, the Knights died with him. Without their leader they were nothing, and they disappeared from history. No more is said of them, and I always wondered why not. Just because Arthur is dead, that doesn’t mean that his Knights didn’t carry on living. Their story must continue — if only someone would tell it!

The Du Lac Chronicles is a sweeping saga that follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Lancelot du Lac’s sons as they try to forge a life for themselves in an ever-changing Saxon world. In each book, you will meet the same characters, whom hopefully readers have come to love. I made sure that each book stands alone, but as with all series, it is best to start at the beginning.

2. What inspired you to write The Du Lac Chronicles?

I grew up surrounded by the rolling Mendip Hills in Somerset — the famous town of Glastonbury was a mere 15 minutes from my childhood home. Glastonbury is a little bit unique in the sense that it screams Arthurian Legend. Even the road sign that welcomes you into Glastonbury says…

“Welcome to Glastonbury. The Ancient Isle of Avalon.”

How could I grow up in such a place and not be influenced by King Arthur?

I loved the stories of King Arthur and his Knights as a child, but I always felt let down by the ending. For those not familiar, there is a big battle at a place called Camlann. Arthur is fatally wounded. He is taken to Avalon. His famous sword is thrown back into the lake. Arthur dies. His Knights, if they are not already dead, become hermits. The end.

What an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending to such a wonderful story. I did not buy that ending. So my series came about not only because of my love for everything Arthurian, but also because I wanted to write an alternative ending. I wanted to explore what happened after Arthur’s death.

3. What were the challenges you faced in researching this period of history?

Researching the life and times of King Arthur is incredibly challenging. Trying to find the historical Arthur is like looking for a needle in a haystack. An impossible task. But one thing where Arthur is prevalent, and you are sure to find him, is in folklore.

Folklore isn’t an exact science. It evolves. It is constantly changing. It is added to. Digging up folklore, I found, is not the same as extracting relics! However, I think that is why I find it so appealing.

The Du Lac Chronicles is set in Dark Age, Britain, Brittany and France, so I really needed to understand as much as I could about the era that my books are set in. Researching such a time brings about its own set of challenges. There is a lack of reliable primary written sources. Of course, there are the works of Gildas, Nennius and Bede as well as The Annals of Wales, which we can turn to, but again, they are not what I would consider reliable sources. Even the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which was compiled in the late 9th Century, has to be treated with caution. So it is down to archaeologists to fill in the missing blanks, but they can only do so much. Which means in some instances, particularly with regards to the history of Brittany during this time, I have no choice but to take an educated guess as to what it was like.

4. There are many books about King Arthur. Can you tell us three things that set your novels apart?

You are quite right; there are many fabulous books about King Arthur and his Knights. So what sets my books apart:

1.) My books are set after the death of King Arthur.
2.) Not all the Knights are heroic, and some of them are not even Christians. Ahh!
3.) You will meet some “historical” characters from the past — not all of them are legendary!

5. Do you have a favourite Arthurian character from history?

I really should say Lancelot du Lac, as my books are based on his story. But in truth, one of my favourite characters is Sir Gawain. Gawain And The Green Knight is one of my all-time favourite Arthurian stories.

6. What next?
I am currently working on Book 5 of The Du Lac Chronicles.

The Du Lac Prophecy
(Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde

Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.

Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.

If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.

Excerpt:
“I feared you were a dream,” Amandine whispered, her voice filled with wonder as she raised her hand to touch the soft bristles and the raised scars on his face. “I was afraid to open my eyes. But you really are real,” she laughed softly in disbelief. She touched a lock of his flaming red hair and pushed it back behind his ear. “Last night…” she studied his face intently for several seconds as if looking for something. “I am sorry if I hurt you. I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t know where I was. I was scared.”

“You certainly gave me a walloping,” he grinned gently down at her, his grey eyes alight with humour. “I think you have the makings of a great mercenary. I might have to recruit you to my cause.”

She smiled at his teasing, but then she began to trace the scars on his face with the tips of her fingers, and her smile disappeared. “Do they still hurt?”

“Yes,” Merton replied. “But the pain I felt when I thought you were dead was a hundred times worse. Philippe had broken my body, but that was nothing compared to the pain in my heart. Without you, I was lost.”

“That day… When they beat you. You were so brave,” Amandine replied.
Her fingers felt like butterflies on his skin, so soft and gentle. He closed his eyes to savour the sensation.

“I never knew anyone could be that brave,” Amandine continued. “You could have won your freedom and yet, you surrendered to their torture to save me. Why? I am but one person. Just one amongst so many.”

“Why do you think?” Merton asked shakily, opening his eyes to look at her again, hoping she could see the depth of his love in his scarred and deformed face.

“I gave you these scars,” Amandine stated with a painful realisation, her hand dropping away from his face. “You are like this because of me,” her voice was thick with unshed tears.

“No, not because of you,” Merton immediately contradicted. “My reputation, Philippe’s greed, Mordred’s hate, and Bastian’s fear, gave me these scars—”

“I should not have gone back to your chamber. If they had not found me there, then they would never have known about us. If they had not known, then you would have had no cause to surrender. Bastian would not have taken your sword arm.” Amandine touched what was left of his arm. “Philippe would not have lashed you.” She touched his face again and shook her head. “I am to blame.” She sat up and her eyes filled with tears, her hand fell away from his face. “I am to blame,” she said again as a tear slipped down her cheek. “How can you stand to be near me?”

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Media Links:
Website/Blog: https://maryanneyarde.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryanneyarde/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryanneyarde
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15018472.Mary_Anne_Yarde

Book Blog Newsletter – April 2018

APRIL 2018 NEWSLETTER

This is the newsletter of UK author Tim Walker. It aims to be monthly and typically includes: book news and offers, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Readers of this newsletter are invited to volunteer for the guest author slot, submit a book review, flash fiction story (up to 250 words) or poem to timwalker1666@gmail.com for future issues.

AUTHOR NEWS

The third and final book in Tim Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny, was published on 9th March. The primary focus of the launch awareness campaign was a book blog tour that involved author interviews, book blurbs, Q&As and links on a dozen well-known blogs, realising over 6,000 views/reads. This has helped support favourable March e-book and paperback sales (and KU page reads) for all three titles in the series. Here’s a list of the blogs…
Mary Anne Yarde Blog – 1st March (Background to Uther)
http://maryanneyarde.blogspot.com
Linda’s Book Bag (Linda Hill) – 2nd March (Blurb, profile)
http://lindasbookbag.wordpress.com
Historical-fiction.com (Arleigh Ordoyne) – 3rd March (In Search of the Elusive Arthur)
http://historical-fiction.com
Books n’ All Promotions (Susan Hampshire) – 6th March (Book review and links)
http://booksfromdusktilldawn.wordpress.com
English Historical Fiction Authors (Debra Brown) – 6th March (In Search of King Arthur)
http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com
EM Swift-Hook & Jane Jago Blog – 9th March (Uther Q&A)
http://workingtitleblogsport.wordpress.com
Grace’s Book Review – 13th March (Book review by hubby John)
http://reviewerbookladygoodnready.wordpress.com 

Jane Risdon – 17th March (Arthurian article)
http://janerisdon.wordpress.com
Elizabeth-gates.com book blog – 22nd March (Author interview)
http://elizabeth-gates.com/blog
Rosie Amber Book Review Blog – 29th March (Arthurian article)
https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/your-book-reviewed/
Mary Anne Yarde Book Blog – 29th March (book review)
http://maryanneyarde.blogspot.com
Jenny Kane Blog – 4th April
http://jennykane.co.uk/blog

Uther’s Destiny is the third book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, and can be read as a standalone (although readers who enjoy it may want to seek out book one – Abandoned (http://myBook.to/Abandoned) – and book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (http://myBook.to/Ambrosius).

Buy the e-book or paperback or read on Kindle Unlimited: UTHER’S DESTINY

 

This month our guest author is British historical author, Elizabeth Gates…

Who is Elizabeth Gates?

Between reading English Language & Literature at Bedford College, University of London, and acquiring an MA in Linguistics at the University of Essex, ELIZABETH GATES explored Europe as a teacher of English and Creative Writing. She then went on to work as a freelance journalist for 25 years, published in national, regional and local magazines and newspapers and specialising in Public Health Issues. These issues ranged  widely including – among many others – stories about suicide among farmers, health & safety on theatrical stage and filmset, bird flu and PTSD in returning service personnel. But eventually, she retired from journalism and turned to fiction.

The Wolf of Dalriada is the first novel in a series and Elizabeth is currently writing a sequel set again in 18th Century Scotland but also in Robespierre’s Paris. Staining the Soul will be published in Autumn 2018. A third novel in the series, focusing even more deeply on the Clearances, is at the planning stage. With more ideas to come. She also writes, publishes and broadcasts short stories and poetry.

When she s not writing, Elizabeth enjoys time with her friends, family and animals. She also loves history and travelling. And she is director of the writing for wellbeing consultancy, Lonely Furrow Company.

The Wolf of Dalriada – the story
‘Gaelic calls spin a web through the mist in arcs of soft sound. Fear unsteadies the unseen flocks on the scrub heather hillside as men and dogs weave a trap around them in the darkling night. Once the flocks are penned, then the lanterns are turned towards the south. The watchers wait in silence.’
The Wolf of Dalriada Chapter One.

It is 1793… As Europe watches the French Revolution’s bloody progress, uneasy Scottish landowners struggle to secure their wealth and power and, in Dalriada – the ancient Kingdom of Scotland, now known as Argyll – fractured truths, torn loyalties and bloody atrocities are rife. Can the Laird of the Craig Lowries – the Wolf of Dalriada – safeguard his people?

At the same time, the sad and beautiful Frenchwoman, Adelaide de Fontenoy – who was staked as a child in Versailles on the turn of a card – is now living in thrall to her debauched captor, the English lawyer, Sir William Robinson. Can the laird Malcolm Craig Lowrie save the woman he loves?

And can the Wolf of Dalriada defeat enemies who, like the spirit of Argyll’ s Corryvreckan Whirlpool, threaten to engulf them all?

Written with a blend of mysticism, intrigue and psychological realism, The Wolf of Dalriada is an historical adventure novel, with a rich cavalcade of characters  – mystic, heroic or comic –progressing through its pages. Inspired by the historical writing of Phillipa Gregory and Hilary Mantel, the novel challenges any pre-conceptions of ‘romance’ and has been described in review as ‘A great read’!

What moments in the novel do you like best?
I love the moment when we first meet Malcolm Craig Lowrie, the Wolf of Dalriada – when he pauses between attacks to allow the enemy to collect their dead. Although he says little, he feels much. And, when we first meet Adelaide de Fontenoy,  questions about her mysterious life crackle in the air above her beautiful head.  I also enjoy the moment when rich, urbane and witty lawyer Sir William Robinson finds himself drawn into dangers he would have avoided, had he known they were coming. The triangle set up by these characters is, of course, the eternal one.

What moments do you like least?
I found the massacre at Ardnackaig difficult to write (although it flowed from the pen). This event illustrates how closely violent death stalks people perched on the edge of subsistence and this is a timeless message. The death of the loyal sheepdog, Bess, is sad enough but then the massacre of shepherds by a rogue war-band follows, and the scene ends devastatingly with the discovery of the hanging of two Craig Lowrie boys. The impact of this on the clan is terrible and the intended message is  ‘No one is safe.’ Everyone then placed their trust in their clan chief, Malcolm Craig Lowrie – a heavy burden for a young man to carry. Small wonder the name ‘Ardnackaig’ became the clan war-cry.

Is there an important theme (or themes) that this story illustrates?
How did women in the 18th Century ‘survive’ when they were so dependent on male patronage and has survival become any easier in the intervening centuries? I also explored the role of men. Their burdens could be almost intolerable, involving conflicts of ‘love’ and ‘duty’. And this begs the questions: Are the values of ‘duty’ and ‘loyalty’ outmoded? And what can replace them to keep society functional?  Of course, society may undergo huge change – such as  the change prompted by the waves of revolutionary thought emanating from 18th Century France – but you still need to survive. In short, you still need lunch.

What is the role of superstition and tradition in this story?
In The Wolf of Dalriada, superstition and tradition underpin the Highland way of life – respect for the ancestors, for example, was a common spiritual bond –  but both superstition and tradition are ruthlessly manipulated by those who wish to control the situation. Even so, whatever the venal believe about their own power, the supernatural glimmers in the Scottish air so you never quite know which world you’re living in. And this story veers between a fairy tale going back to the dawn of time and an18th Century comedy of manners.

What role have the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell -– in the writing of this book?
Phillip Pullman, in his wonderful book, ‘Daemon Voices’, says novels have more in common with film than theatre. I would agree – to a certain extent. ‘Sight’ is the predominant sense involved in the first draft of a novel and in film. You are describing a ‘rolling’ scene so that the reader can ‘see’ it. But theatre and subsequent drafts of a novel, I find, can appeal to the other sense too. As I was writing I found the ‘recall’ of other sensations help me describe a scene, reaching out to shared experiences with readers, helping them to relive the moment. The Scottish landscape is described, using all the senses. Scotland is sensual. And Versailles. And Fashion – which meant so much to the heroine, Adelaide de Fontenoy – also demands blatantly sensual description. So although the sense of sight is very important, the reader uses the other senses too. The author is working with the reader’s capacity to recall.

Which character would you most like to invite to dinner and why?
Sir William Robinson would be my go-to dinner guest. Even if it was in danger of becoming emotionally mired, he would know how to keep the conversation entertaining,. And he – like the Duke of Argyll and Malcolm Craig Lowrie – is a collector of useful information. Because he knows a lot but is also prepared to chat about it, he would be well worth an invitation. The trick would be to encourage him to think that your dinner table is worth opening up sufficiently to gossip.

Where did your research take you? How is research best handled? Historical fiction relies on accurate detail to build up a ‘world’ in which a story can believably take place but, even so, for the reader, the story remains more important than the research. And – even though we may teach through our parables – novelists must not be purely educators. Novelists must remember they are entertainers. As an historical novelist, I love research – people, places, times, customs – but it is better not to dump too much fact in any single scene. You lose your reader.

People say all fiction is autobiographical. Is there a formative experience in your life is the basis for this book?
I suppose this is asking how literature works. Readers can identify with what the author is saying or the characters are experiencing in a story. This encourages a capacity for empathy. Because of their empathic response, readers may also experience catharsis (a release of pent up emotions they struggle with). And readers may – through gaining insights into the problems explored in the story – gain insights into the problems in their own lives. Historical fiction has an extra benefit. It removes the ‘issue’ from the familiar everyday and any new perspective can throw up new insights. One formative experience in my life – which led me to explore the issues in this story – has been a conflict between love, survival and duty. I’m not prepared to say more. But yes, to a degree, The Wolf of Dalriada is autobiographical. I also love Argyll!

Contact and connect with Elizabeth Gates:-
Email:
egates3@gmail.com
Social Media Links:
Author Website:
https://www.elizabeth-gates.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com
FB Pages: https://www.facebook.com/TheWolfofDalriada/
https://www.facebook.com/LizzieGatesasNovelist/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizzieGates
Blogger: https://lizziegates.blogspot.co.uk

The Wolf of Dalriada is available to buy from:
Amazon.co.uk :
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1785899902

Available from all good bookshops and also available to borrow in the UK and Ireland through Public Libraries.

My Vedic Hymn To You

By Michael La Vin

You came to me from Kerala,
Purple and white, your Portuguese
Beauty illuminated me day and night
I wrapped my arms around you, and you grew within my core

I felt your trembling arms reach up,
Caressing my epiphytic roots,
I towered over you as your beauty blossomed.
With each tender caress,
I knew you would be mine forever more.

Rest your sweet head upon my arms,
As Krishna did
So many years, so many eons ago.
He has sent you now,
As a reminder of His power and beauty
As you blossom forever protected within my frame

As you lie within , caressing,
Loving and sharing , My roots ever stronger, strengthening,
As you blossom and flower,
Engorged and radiant,
Your scent transcends, a perfumed heady diaspora
Your sweet nectar flowing, feeding my soul
Your Karma washes over and through me

Intricately entwined,
Enwrapped, entrapped
Infinitely and endlessly interwoven.
Enlightenment achieved,
A oneness, a togetherness,
Rooted in, sharing and growing from the same earth

You came to me,
A material reflection of the spiritual domain,
A shadow of perfected reality,
Slowly unfolding your secrets,
In an intertwined rapturous eternal love
Come amongst us – declared as one of the perfect beings.

Book Blog Newsletter – March 2018

This is the newsletter of UK author Tim Walker. It aims to be monthly and typically includes: book news and offers, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Readers of this newsletter are invited to volunteer for the guest author slot, submit a book review, flash fiction story (up to 250 words) or poem to timwalker1666@gmail.com for future issues.

AUTHOR NEWS

The third and final book in Tim Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny, is set to launch on 9th March. This novel completes the series he began writing in July 2015 with the novella, Abandoned!, inspired by a visit to the site of former Roman town, Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester in Hampshire). It was Tim’s intention with this series to create an ‘alternative history’ of life in Britannia in the Fifth Century. This is the time immediately after the Roman occupation ended (in 410 AD) and his narrative incorporates elements of the Arthurian legend, as described by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain, published in 1136.

Uther’s Destiny is the third book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, and can be read as a standalone (although readers who enjoy it may want to seek out book one – Abandoned (http://myBook.to/Abandoned) – and book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (http://myBook.to/Ambrosius).

UTHER’S DESTINY – Pre-order now!

Fifth century Britannia is in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders.

Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

The court healer, and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfil the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from foreign invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth century, a time known as the Dark Ages – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

This month we welcome British dystopian novelist, Stuart Kenyon.  Stuart prefers to write in public places, tapping away as the world passes by, and he plots his stories whilst out walking the dog. He has always enjoyed reading disturbing tales which explore the darkness at the heart of the human condition, and his characters are devised with this in mind.

As the father of a severely autistic son, the author has pledged to donate a fifth of all royalties from the SUBNORMAL series to his local Special Educational Needs school. They are raising money to provide much-needed sensory equipment for the children. The treatment of disabled people in Britain – in particular the cuts in welfare benefits for society’s most vulnerable – provided Stuart with the inspiration for his original trilogy. The Brexit vote, and the lurch to the right in politics across the Western World, prompted him to write SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG.

Stuart lives in Greater Manchester, England with his wife and two young children. Despite wanting to pen a novel since reading English Literature at the University of Salford, he didn’t start writing until 2014. He released the final part of the SUBNORMAL series in May 2016, and has recently written a new novel, SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG, which released 30th January 2017. Currently, he is writing a post-apocalyptic science fiction series, which should be finished by the end of 2018.

@StuartKenyon81 (Twitter)
Stuart Kenyon – Author of Dystopian Novels (Facebook)
stuartkenyon.wordpress.com (website)
Book Links:
bit.ly/subnormal1 (Subnormal)
bit.ly/subnormal2 (Supernormal)
bit.ly/subnormal3 (Postnormal)
bit.ly/swiftlybk (Swiftly Sharpens the Fang)

David Bowie: Star Man

A personal reminiscence by Linnet Lane
1973.  Enter David Bowie, my first musical idol…

Not a hand-me-down crush.
Not copy-cat crooner nor harmonising hoofer.
Boys and girls, we all wanted to BE Bowie, not to bed Bowie.  Or so we said.
In a suffocation of affiliates – stick with, stick to, stick in the bubble -gum bovver boys and soul sisters –   Bowie stuck out.
He struck out, struck up, struck US, and lightning-struck Ziggy Stardust.
Bowie’s cosmic visionary, ungendered by grease paint, whined in the key of light,
Crashing and lapping like a lover on the shore of our sensibilities.
We Major Tommed and Jean Genied all our sixteenth summer long,
Took the songs to our hearts and the genius for granted.
John, I’m Only Dancing.
Dancing out loud in dazzling colours.

Yesterday a grey locked, death locked, grave garbed image
Shared the only vision the rest of us ever had, one of parting.
Didn’t rage against the dying of the light, but bent its last rays to a spot for his thorn-bird song,
Effortlessly in tune at last.

Major Tim, floating in his ’tin can’, twixt a new earth and a new heaven, mourns.
His life trailed by art.
The tide is far out. And the stars look very different tonight.

By Linnet

It’s customary to list partners, offspring and pets as a breastplate against literary rejection…  I live with a supportive collection of houseplants in a nineteen-sixties semi within a Yorkshire village that tries hard. The pen name Linnet (the storyteller in Lucy M Boston’s ‘Children of Green Knowe’) wakes my imagination.  I wrote my first complete story in 2014, forty years after study got in the way of writing for its own sake, and have begun to build a collection.
This poem is a one-off.

 

 

 

Book Blog Newsletter

Issue 1 – February 2018

Welcome to Tim’s Book Blog Newsletter. This will be a monthly newsletter on my website but also doubling as an e-newsletter for my mailing list. Please subscribe to my mail list to ensure you get future issues (fill in the form on the side panel of my home page and get a free short story!). The newsletter will include brief news of my writing and book promotions, feature a guest poem and also guest authors.

News

I shall be launching my next book, Uther’s Destiny, on Thursday 15th March. I intend to use the Amazon pre-order facility for the first time and promote it from the beginning of March as available for pre-order at 99p/99c e-book. 15th March is the official launch date when the e-book will be priced at £1.99/$2.99 and the print-on-demand paperback at £5.99/$6.99.

Uther’s Destiny is the third book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, and can be read as a standalone (although I’m hoping new readers will be motivated to go back to read book one – Abandoned – and book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans.

Here’s the cover and book blurb:

Fifth century Britannia is in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders.

Uther is a powerful warrior, proud of his reputation as the slayer of Saxon warlord, Horsa. A pragmatic soldier, he feels he has lived too long in the shadow of his high-principled brother. Uther has brushed aside the claim of his young nephew, Dawid, and is endorsed by quarreling Briton tribal chiefs, who know he is the best man to challenge the creeping colonisation of the island by ruthless Saxons.

Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

The court healer, and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfill the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from foreign invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Meanwhile, Saxon chiefs Octa and Ælla have their own plans for seizing the island of Britannia and forging a new colony of Germanic tribes. Can Uther rise above his domestic problems and raise an army to oppose them?

Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth century, a time known as the Dark Ages – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

 

Our guest authors this month are two talented historical and fantasy fiction authors, E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago, whose ‘Dai and Julia’ stories I have enjoyed immensely…

The Dai and Julia Mysteries are set in a modern day Britain where the Roman Empire never left. Crime is rife. Murder, trafficking, drug smuggling and strange religious cults are just a few of the problems that investigators Dai and Julia have to handle, whilst managing family, friendship and domestic crises. The Dai and Julia Mysteries are available as separate novellas or in an omnibus with bonus short stories.
Co-Authors:
E.M. Swift-Hook – author.to/EMSH
In the words that Robert Heinlein put so evocatively into the mouth of Lazarus Long: ‘Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.’ Having tried a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, cats and a small flock of rescued chickens, E.M. Swift-Hook now spends a lot of time in private and has very clean hands.

Jane Jago – author.to/JaneJago

Jane Jago lives in the beautiful west country with her big, silly dog and her big sensible husband. She spent the first half of her working life cooking and the second half editing other people’s manuscripts.
At last, she has time to write down the stories that have been disturbing her sleep for as long as she can remember.
Links:
Amazon – Novellas mybook.to/DnJ
Amazon – Omnibus mybook.to/DnJOne
This will be a guest poet’s slot (any offers?), but to get the ball rolling here’s one of mine – a thinly disguised, uncultured homage to the great Irish poet, WB Yeats…

The Enchanted Isle

By Tim Walker

I shall arise and go to the enchanted Isle,

Where my mind shall be soothed in quiet reflection,

Through the still waters of the lake, a mirror of the soul;

Ripples spread like pages from my life,

The warmth of the sun on my upturned face,

The freshness of the breeze upon this placid place;

Oarlocks groan to the steady rhythm of endeavour,

As my guide’s instincts deliver us safe,

We alight and tread the little-worn path,

Passing wildfowl and frogs, birds and bees,

Gnarled oaks randomly bend as thick grass encroaches,

On a procession through nature to the sacred stone.

Its weathered grey face leans at an uneasy angle,

Protruding from the earth where the ancients placed it,

The inscriptions in a long forgotten hand speak no more

Of the lives and beliefs of those who have passed;

But their spirits live on in the wind and the rain,

An indelible part of this patchwork landscape,

Without colour or cares, a slight moan of regret,

That their brief lives passed in a blink of an eye,

Through seasons’ change, what withers must die,

But soon replaced by a similar life,

That commits to the struggle to grow and survive,

On this earth where beauty elicits a smile,

And we strive to succeed for a very short while.