Tag: poetry

Tim’s Book Blog – July 2021

JULY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

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AUTHOR NEWS

June 1st saw the launch of my new novel, Guardians at the Wall. This dual timeline novel set at Hadrian’s Wall has piqued enough interest to generate fair sales (I’m not putting figures here, but it didn’t hit the top 100 in any of its categories, sadly, so no orange ‘Bestseller’ tag). The sales split is about 80% Kindle e-books as 20% paperback. In addition, it has gone quite well on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s subscription service) with close to 4,000 page reads in June. Already it has accrued ten positive reviews, which should tempt browsers to take a chance on it.

I appeared on over twenty book blogs during June, generating some awareness amongst active readers. As for paid advertising, well, I’ve only done two weekend Facebook post boosts, targeted by lifestyle characteristics and by country, and one spot advert with Fussy Librarian that generated six Kindle sales on the day.

I’m always pleased to get positive feedback from the USA market, so it cheered me up to see this review from a US historical fiction reader:

HF Reader
5 stars – Entertaining and Fast Paced
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2021.
“I really enjoyed the characters and settings in this exciting and well-researched dual timeline. Both modern and Roman stories wove together beautifully, and I found them equally riveting. I don’t know a lot about the Roman period in England, and I think the way the author presents the history, through the eyes of archaeologists and their own stories, really draws you in. Highly recommend, for those familiar with the Roman period, as well as those who want to learn more in an entertaining and easy-to-read novel.”

What’s the book about? Well, here’s the short description:
Guardians at the Wall is a gripping dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.
Currently just £1.99/$2.99/e2.69 on Kindle!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

FIRST BOOK AWARD
Guardians at the Wall has been awarded the International Review of Books Award by Books go Social (booksgosocial.com is a Dublin-based company that supports independent authors). Here’s what their reviewer said:
“The writing in this book is superb. I felt like I was at Hadrian’s Wall with a group of students on an archaeological dig. The author’s descriptions of what was happening, what the characters felt and saw were wonderful. I also felt like I travelled into the past where the artefact originated. These details brought the story alive.
Yet, it’s more than about finding an artefact. There is a story of love and mystery as well. This creates added interest in the book. The main character has to deal with going on an important mission that could risk his future career and the hardship of theft. The author intermingles the two timelines very well providing details into a complete story that is about the people as well as the excavated objects.
More than an artefact is dug up in this story. There are questions surrounding it that need to be answered. What does this find really mean? What is the story behind it? Finding the answers makes the reader eager to know what is happening and what happened long ago. Every step of this story adds more details to this well-written novel. It is full of everything you are looking for in historical fiction with some mystery and romance.”

General thoughts on the Novel:
“This is a fascinating world throughout two timelines and two worlds found in the same place. The world has changed since the artefact had last seen the light and the writer did well relaying the two timelines. The design of the book is good throughout. The idea of this story is interesting with enough details to keep track of each timeline.”

In a new feature, I’m reminiscing on my two encounters with punk poet laureate, Dr John Cooper Clarke. If you would like to share any literary-themed reminiscences on this blog, please email me…

Meeting Dr John Cooper Clarke

Way back in 1978 I was a sixth form student in Liverpool studying for, amongst others, English Literature ‘A’ level. What were the chances of me seeing a punk poet on stage who would one day find his way onto the national curriculum?

My studies were not going well as I was heavily distracted by the energy and noise of punk rock as it cut a jagged slash through the rock music scene. A classmate talked me into going with him to see his new idol, Salford punk poet, John Cooper-Clarke, a punk rock spin-off act. He was supporting Manchester punk band, The Fall.
So, we got the bus into Liverpool and made our way to Mathew Street, to Eric’s Club, opposite the site of the Cavern Club where the Beatles had made their name. We went to the matinee, where they tolerated a younger audience, and were forced to buy a year’s membership for £1 in addition to the £1.50 entry fee – a lot of money to skint schoolies. Descending into the dark dungeon basement, we gasped at the building-wide low-ceiling room with gloss red walls, a bar at one end and a low stage, about knee high off the concrete floor, opposite. Punks with bondage pants and leather jackets painted on the back with anarchy symbols and metal studs on the lapels milled about, comparing peroxide spiked hair. We hung around on the fringes, conservatively dressed in turned up drainpipe jeans, baseball boots and our dad’s old dark jackets with favourite band pin badges dotting the lapels.

The Fall were the new darlings of late-night DJ John Peel, and they belted out a loud, fast and forgettable set. Cooper-Clarke was a rake-thin stick insect dressed in black, with a mad mop of black hair sprouting from his pale face. Wearing shades and chewing gum, he read from a notebook at break-neck speed. I still remember such classics as ‘I married a monster from outer space’ and ‘You’ll never find a nipple in the Daily Express’. My mate was enthralled and vowed to write his own punk poetry in the style of his new hero. He insisted we wait behind after the punks had filed out for a chance to meet the man himself. Sure enough, JCC came out to the bar and chatted to fans, including us. I got his autograph on my Eric’s flyer, now glued in my scrapbook. This was the first of many night club gigs as I made use of my Eric’s membership, extending it into the next year.

Fast-forward forty years, and JCC performed his set at The Fire Station theatre in Windsor, close to where I now live. I bought a ticket and went along, armed with my scrapbook, determined to try and gain an audience with him after his performance to show him where he’d signed my flyer forty years earlier, to complete the circle. He had journeyed from a punk rock warm-up act and a battle with drug addiction to becoming an establishment figure and celebrated national poet, his name prefixed by ‘Doctor’ after he was awarded an honorary degree, and amongst his set are poems that now grace the national school curriculum. I marvelled at him performing to the well-heeled Tories of Windsor, and wondered if he voted Conservative himself.

Thin as ever and still dressed in a black suit with trademark dark shades, his delivery was much the same, except now he used backing tracks to add a drum and bass rhythm to some of his poems. Classics such as ‘Beasley Street’ and ‘Evidently Chicken Town’ (the theme to the final episode of hit TV series ‘The Sopranos’), plus school GCSE literature poems, ‘I mustn’t go down to the sea’ and ‘I wanna be yours’ received big applause. I had to laugh when he did some of the old, original set, including ‘I married a monster from outer space’.

After the gig I went to the foyer where his Manchester mate was selling copies of his books to eager buyers. Once they had gone, I bought one of his books and asked the guy if I could meet John and get the book signed. He replied, ‘No, John’s tired and resting’. I produced my scrap book and explained how John had been my first gig way back in ’78, when he’d signed my flyer. I showed him the page, and his eye was drawn to a ticket next to it from April 1980 when I’d seen Manchester band, Joy Division, at the Hascienda. ‘You’ve seen Joy Division?’ he asked, incredulously. ‘Yeah, three times, actually’, I casually replied. I showed him my other gig tickets and he was captivated. ‘Mind if I take some photos?’ he asked, producing his phone. ‘Only if you let me go backstage to meet John’, I replied.

He thought about it and then relented. ‘Alright, I’ll see if he’ll see you’. Two minutes later he put his head around the door and beckoned me to come. ‘Just for a minute, as John’s really tired’, he said. I went in and John staggered towards me, arms outstretched for a friendly hug. He was as high as a kite, grinning from ear to ear – adrenalin and a thirst-quenching beer perhaps? I briefly explained how I’d met him after his gig at Erics forty years ago and showed him his autograph. He swayed backwards and forwards, trying to focus. ‘That’s great… what’s yer name again? Tiny? Nice ter meet ya mate.’ His Manc mate took two very blurry photos on my phone (picture shown) of me and John, holding my scrapbook. And yes, I did let the Manc guy take pictures of my gig tickets and flyers. I almost felt like a celebrity.

Never meet your heroes they say, especially when they’re old and knackered. Why not? We are both survivors, and I’m in an equally degraded state these days. Life’s a journey after all, and I’m not against the odd trip down memory lane.

It’s incredible to think school kids are analysing his poems…

I WANNA BE YOURS

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic Ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion.

I MUSTN’T GO DOWN TO THE SEA AGAIN

Sunken yachtsmen
Sinking yards
Drunken Scotsmen
Drinking hard
Every lunatic and his friend
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The ocean drags
Its drowning men
Emotions flag
Me down again
Tell Tracy Babs and Gwen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The rain whips
The promenade
It drips on chips
They turn to lard
I’d send a card if I had a pen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

A string of pearls
From the bingo bar
For a girl
Who looks like Ringo Starr
She’s mad about married men
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The clumsy kiss
That ends in tears
How I wish
I wasn’t here
Tell Tony Mike and Len
I mustn’t go down to the sea again.

John Cooper Clarke

Tim’s Newsletter May 2021

May 2021
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com
SOCIAL MEDIA
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
AUTHOR NEWS
In my own news, my new dual timeline historical novel, Guardians at the Wall, has been proof-read, beta-read and copyedited, and will be finalised in early May ahead of a planned 1st June launch. I intend to put the e-book on Amazon Kindle for pre-ordering from 14th May, when the official cover reveal promotion will commence. The paperback and Kindle e-book will be ‘live’ on Amazon from 1st June, although it may be available on Kindle Unlimited before the end of May.
Every independent author needs favourable reviews to entice casual browsers to make a purchase decision. So, should you pre-order the e-book (at the discounted price) from Amazon and wish to start reading right away, please email me to request a pdf (for ipad); epub (for Kobo reader) or mobi file (for Kindle) so you can get started.

Guardians at the Wall blurb:
A group of archaeology students in northern England scrape at the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes.

Twenty-year-old Noah makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He is living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding ancient riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.

In the same place, 1,800 years earlier, Commander of the Watch, Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one trying to get himself noticed and the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology dirt rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by his gaming mates and the attentions of two very different women, work out who to trust?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

This month’s guest author is S.J. Martin.  

I have had an abiding love of history from an early age. This interest not only influenced my academic choices at university but also my life choices and careers.

I spent several years with my trowel in the world of archaeology before finding my forte as a storyteller in the guise of a history teacher. I wanted to encourage young people to find that same interest in history that had enlivened my life.

I always wanted to write historical fiction. The opportunity came when I left education; I then gleefully re-entered the world of engaging and fascinating historical research into the background of some of my favourite historical periods. There are so many stories still waiting to be told, and my first series of books on ‘The Breton Horse Warriors’ proved to be one of them.

The Breton Lords, such as my fictional Luc De Malvais, played a significant role in the Battle of Hastings and helped to give William the Conqueror a decisive win. They were one of the most exciting troops of cavalry and swordmasters in Western Europe.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Author website

Book Blurb:
It is 1071, in an England now harshly ruled and occupied by the Normans. Peace is a distant memory for the Saxon people as rebellions and retribution ravage the land and decimate the population.
Luc De Malvais is the leader of the famed Breton Horse Warriors, a legend in battle, a feared and ruthless swordsman who has spent months quelling the rebellions in Northumberland.

He suddenly finds himself in the eye of the storm in northern England when Alain Rufus orders him to manage and control a large rebel area around Ravensworth. However, it is not long before he is experiencing the full violence of the maelstrom that breaks around his head.

He faces the most dangerous challenges of his life when he finds unexpected forbidden love with a beautiful rebel but encounters a savage and merciless enemy. This brutal Saxon leader intends to take revenge against these invaders. Full of hatred and rage, he resolves not only to drive out the Normans and destroy Malvais, but he wants to make the Horse Warrior suffer before taking both his life and the woman he loves.

Tim Walker’s review of Ravensworth:
A northern village awaits the arrival of the feared Norman conquerors five years on from Hastings. The scene is set for this thrilling tale of love, hate and reconciliation in Ravensworth and the surrounding countryside. The author’s background as an historian shows through in the believable evocation of early Norman England, with their customs and laws being imposed on their new subjects. New Lord of the Manor, Breton Luc de Malvais, falls for the charms of a local beauty, but this leads to many complications that test them both to their limits. A well-researched and written novel that promises much for the unfolding series. Highly recommended.
Amazon book link

This month sees the return of Rick Warren aka Lyrick.

My name is Rick Warren and I enjoy writing stories and poems, mainly for my own enjoyment and as a way of trying to make sense of the world. 

Having stopped work in 2019 to attempt a thriller, (way harder than I imagined), I’m now writing and compiling poems and stories, hopefully putting out a book by the end of the year, to follow on from my first collection of poems “The Path to Redemption” which I self-published on Amazon under my pen name Lyrick.

I have always enjoyed the brevity and concise nature of poems, with their ability to distil sometimes complex thoughts and issues into a succinct and manageable format. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, the process of using fewer words to say more is challenging and one I really enjoy. 
You can see some of my work on my website 
Order your copy of Path to Redemption

Searching the Attic

I wish I’d taken more time to remember the little things, 
Youthful adventures lost, memories unmade sting, 
Small paper cuts of loss,
Disruptions of time and space,
Meaningful moments disappeared, only to reappear, replaced,
With static,
Buried beneath clutter,
In the attic,
Of my mind,

Forgotten phrases, unkind rhymes,
‘neath waves both dark and deep, 
Shipwrecked cargoes of unbound dreams, 
Lay hidden and asleep, 
Undisturbed on mapless shores, 
Beyond a compass’ perceptions reach
We are in no sense, innocent,
As we lay upon this beach

Treasure beyond comprehension… are we brave enough to fight?
To search our past for reasons as to why we hid the light
That once illuminated reason, to why we feel so lost,
Choices, once taken freely, come with a fearful cost,
Have we courage enough to search through our emotional detritus,
What awaits the foolish soul, what demons hide inside us,
Are we willing to awaken, the guardians of memory,
That deny and protect us from our sanity/insanity?
Forge swords of inquisition to fight and learn the truth
Prepare ourselves for battle with the shadows of our youth

Do we really want to remember everything?
Are we prepared for the consequences of all we have done and have ever been?
Sometimes things are hidden for a reason…
Where do we look for answers when questions are all we see?
Past life dreams becoming realities illusion
Caught between cliffs of clarity and confusion  
Between sky and sea, between ice and fire,
Who can escape what they truly desire?

Lyrick 2021

Newsletter – January 2021

JANUARY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

Author News
Firstly, happy new year to all of you – let’s hope for better things in 2021. As for me, I’m writing my winter novel – something I’ve done for the past four years (I have got into the habit of planning and research in September/October, writing from November to March, then getting it proof-read and copyedited, the book cover finalised and launch strategy worked out). But having finished my epic five-book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, with 2020’s Arthur Rex Brittonum, I’ve retired that set of characters and set my mind on writing a standalone novel.

My work-in-progress is titled Guardians at The Wall, and it will be my first attempt at a timeslip novel. I got the idea for a story involving intrigue amongst archaeologists meshed with a Roman soldiers’ story on a trip to Hadrian’s Wall sites and museums in September 2020 (between lockdowns!). Time slip, I’ve recently discovered, can be a sub-genre of either historical or science fiction that combines two strands to the story – contemporary and historical/another time. As I know little about this, I joined a Facebook group, Historical & Time Slip Novels Book Club, to find out more.
I posted a statement about my work in progress and asked for suggestions, and received dozens of useful comments, including a link to a blog article by author, Kathleen McGurl, on writing dual timelines. She provides her own definitions of the different types of time slip stories that gave me pause to reflect on what I was attempting:
Kathleen has identified three types of time slip novel:
Time travel – characters deliberately and intentionally travel through time. Science fiction.
Timeslip – characters unintentionally and accidentally slip through time. Supernatural/magic.
Dual timeline – a mystery from the past is uncovered and resolved in the present day. The story is told in two timelines, woven together. No science or magic needed.
From these definitions, I can firmly locate my project as dual timeline. My contemporary story involves a search to uncover a mystery and to piece together the actions of a Roman centurion in the second century, posted at Hadrian’s Wall. The historical story is the story of that centurion, outlining what actually happened all those years ago. The archaeologists must piece together what they think happened based on scraps of information, and then search for the location of a buried payroll chest.
Kathleen has shared how she approaches writing her novels (BTW, her latest book is The Forgotten Gift – see below) and it resonates with how I’ve approached my story, giving me comfort and the confidence to push on.
She makes each chapter a single timeline, alternating between her two stories, so reader knows what to expect; chapters are typically 3,000 words in length (to give the reader a chance to get into each timeline before swapping); chapter 1 and the last chapter are the contemporary story – the character with whom the reader will most identify; make both stories equally strong.
She goes on to advise authors that they will need several elements for a successful dual timeline: two linked stories; strong characters in each timeline; a great setting that the reader sees in both timelines; an item turning up in both timelines; and a theme to help tie the stories together.
So, thanks for the advice, Kathleen – now I just need to write it!

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861: George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?
Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…
Discover a family’s darkest secrets today. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Beekeeper’s Promise and The Forgotten Village!

Our featured guest author this month is Jean M. Roberts who lives with her family outside of Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a BSN in nursing. She then joined the United States Air Force and proudly served for 8 years. She works full time as a nurse administrator for a non-profit.
A life-long lover of history Jeanie began writing articles on her family history/genealogy. This in turn has led to two works of historical fiction. She is currently working on a third book, The Heron, due for publication in April 2021. Jean has kindly written an article for us on the period of American history she is particularly interested in.

Her first novel is:  Weave a Web of Witchcraft

This is the haunting tale of Hugh and Mary Parsons of Springfield, Massachusetts. Using actual testimony recorded in their depositions and trials, the book recreates the story of this ill fated couple. Happily married in 1645, their life slowly disintegrates into a nightmare of accusations, madness and death. By 1651, Hugh is accused of witchcraft by his own wife and soon the entire town turns against him. Hugh’s friends and neighbors tell outlandish tales of unnatural occurrences, ghostly lights and mysterious beasts then point the finger of blame squarely at Hugh. In a wild turn of events Mary confesses that she too is a witch and has danced with the devil. Both Hugh and Mary are deposed and sent to Boston to stand trial for witchcraft before the General Court of Massachusetts; one is charged with murder. Their very lives hang in the balance. Exhaustively researched, this book is filled with vivid details of life on the frontier of Massachusetts, and brings to life the people who struggled for existence in the harsh world that was Puritan Massachusetts. Predating the famous Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 by almost forty years, this is the page turning story of a tragic couple whose life is overtaken by ignorance and superstition.

War in the Colonies
As an American, I can trace my ancestry to the British Isles. According to my DNA profile, I am 100% Anglo/Irish. I am also a lover of history. Like Tim, I am a novelist, but although I adore medieval English history, I don’t know enough to write with any authority. My historical novels are focused on Colonial America, from the early beginnings, through the War for Independence.

My first book, Weave a Web of Witchcraft is set in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1650. The story revolves around a real couple, Hugh and Mary Parsons, who were both accused of witchcraft. My second book, Blood in the Valley, is the fictionalize tale of my ancestors before and during the American Revolution. The story follows them from New Hampshire to the wilds of the Mohawk Valley of New York.

This brings me to my next book, The Heron, which has a dual time narrative; modern day and the 1690s and is set along the banks of the Oyster River in New Hampshire. War plays a big role in this chilling story, specifically, King William’s War. This was the opening conflict of what was to be called The French and Indian Wars. A brutal fight, waged on both sides, it would last until 1763, when a peace agreement, the Treaty of Paris, was signed by the European powers. But the fight with and against the native people on the American continent continued well into the 19th century.

Like many American children, I grew up playing games we called ‘Cops and Robbers’ and living in Texas, ‘Cowboys and Indians’. The cops and the cowboys were the good guys; men in white hats riding white horses. The men in black, the bad guys, were the robbers and the Indians. We fought over who had to be the baddie, the enemy. The idea of the ‘bad Indian’ was ingrained in us from a young age.

From the day the first white man stepped ashore, the Native population has been maligned. Englishmen were smarter, braver, they had God on their side and like all conquerors, entitled to take what they wanted. England itself had been swept by conquering peoples from time immemorial. The Romans, the Saxons, the Norsemen, the Normans. It was the natural order of things.

Along with guns, and a healthy sense of superiority, Europeans brought plague and pestilence with them to the new world. Historians call it ‘The Great Dying’, 90% of the native population perished. The Americas were ripe for the taking. In a way, I can see a parallel between the beleaguered American natives and the people of England, the Romano-British people who banded together under King Arthur to fight the Saxon invader and preserve their land.

In 1620, a group of English religious separatists, set sail for the Colony of Virginia. At that time, the territory of Virginia stretched as far as today’s New York, and their intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River. They didn’t make it. Blown off course they found themselves far to the north. This year, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

When we think of the Pilgrims, fresh off the boat from Plymouth, England, newly landed on the Cape of Massachusetts, images of a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner come to mind. The starving settlers were aided by Native Americans, taught to grow food in the unfamiliar land. It’s a lovely narrative but this peaceful co-existence was short lived.
As wave after wave of Englishmen arrived on the shores of North American, the Native Americans became increasingly concerned. Conflict was inevitable.

Loss of land, subjugation to harsh English law, and enslavement led to a rise in tension between the two peoples. In 1675 the Native Americans along the North East coast banded together under the leadership of a Wampanoag man, Metacom. The English called him King Philip. The Natives lashed out at the interlopers.

This war, King Philip’s War, was a full-out assault on the colonists in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Together with warriors from Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narraganset tribes brought death and destruction to the Colonist, their combined efforts all but drove the colonist into the sea. If they had held together, the English would have been penned up in coastal cities, and possibly forced to abandon New England.

But this was also a war between Native Americans. The Mohegans and the Mohawks of New York, allied themselves with the English and fought against Metacom and his coalition. For the better part of 14 months, Metacom and his warriors ravaged New England. He was captured and killed in August of 1676 and the fight gradually dwindled until the signing of a peace treaty in Casco, Maine in 1678. Hundreds, if not thousands of native fighters and their families were rounded up and shipped to the Caribbean to work as slaves on the sugar plantations.

Peace did not last long. In 1689 King William of England declared war on France. As battles waged on the Continent, simmering tensions in the Colonies flared. Canada was, at that time, a French territory. The Governor, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, devised a three-prong plan of attack against the Colonies of New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Maine was part of Massachusetts). In the winter of 1690, a force attacked the town of Schenectady in New York, a second attacked Salmon Falls in New Hampshire and the third destroyed Fort Loyal in Maine. The loss of the Fort, near present day Portland, emptied the frontier.

Hundreds of settlers, men, women and children were killed or taken as captives to Canada. The numbers may not seem significant but the population of these settlements was small, and so the impact of losing males of working age had a huge effect on the economy and the ability of these people to survive. That these people survived at all is testament to their tenacity. King William’s War ended 1697 but flared again in 1702 with Queen Anne’s War.

For many Americans this is dry dusty information, naught but boring dates without meaning. If your family, whether they were of English descent or Native American, lived in New England in the 17th – 18th century it is almost certain that they were also affected by these wars. If nothing else the mental toll must have been enormous. In fact, Mercy Lewis, one of the Salem Witchcraft accusers fled the attack on Casco Bay in 1689, where her parents were both killed, leaving her an orphan and forced to work as a servant. It has been suggested that the psychological damaged inflicted by the war might have played a part in her role as an accuser.

As most know, the native population of America was pushed further and further west, just as the remains of the British population were pushed into Wales and down into Cornwall. Or, they were forced to assimilate into the in new culture. King Philip and King Arthur have many similarities, their biggest difference being, King Arthur is a hero and King Philip a long-forgotten fighter for Indian freedom.

My upcoming book, The Heron, is set along the Oyster River of New Hampshire. This area was subject to repeated attacks during King William’s War. My story has two main characters, Abbey Coote a modern-day woman and her ancestor Mary Foss who struggled to survive, not on the war, but life in general. My story is full of period details and as accurate a portrayal of life in the 1690s as I could get. Be sure to check it out. Its release date is April 15 2021.

In Poet’s Corner this month we have Michael le Vin, a writing mate of mine from our Windsor Writers’ days. Now, he is more likely to be spotted turning up at Slough Writers’ meetings and events. His poem, Tammany Adieu, won the Slough Writers Annual Poetry Prize / Competition, 2020.

Tammany Adieu
By Michael le Vin

The desolation.
Waves lapping at the shallop’s hull. A kind of kissing;
January’s North Atlantic wind keening.
Bitter, biting face and hands.
Adel, weeping in rhythmic slow lament, as Boston fades in the mouth of the
Charles, desecrating the memory of the father she loved.
The man she knew.
At home.
A man of simple tenderness. Caring, loving, true
Looked after her dying mother, his second wife, adopting Adel as his own.
A man of political passions too, the father she loved,
The man she knew.
The public man.
Hard and strong, whisky swilling.
He could outdo the lads,
Happily gamble his silver dollar.
But fight for a cause, give women a vote, equal rights for all
Regardless of race, or gender or kin.
The battle-hardened politician.
The father she loved.
The man she knew.
His death.
His collapse at Tammany Hall. A shock!, Disquiet.
A deafening silence, before a fall.
Interring him in an unmarked grave, political allies and adversaries alike
demanding redress.
His birth certificate, said “Mary Anderson, born Govan 1840”.
Cynically they buried him…. in a dress….
The father she loved
The man….. she thought….. she knew

Newsletter – July 2020

NEWSLETTER – JULY 2020

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

SOCIAL MEDIA:
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

Author News
After five years of researching, plotting and writing, A Light in the Dark Ages book series is now complete with the publication in June 2020 of book five, Arthur Rex Brittonum.

I feel both a sense of achievement and relief, and hope that those of you who are reading the series will finally reach book five and leave me your thoughts in reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Most of all, I hope you enjoyed reading my imagined saga of the Pendragon family over three generations, drawn from historical research and the romantic desire to believe that at least some of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s creative ‘history’ is based on real people and events.

They may now be lost in the mists of time, but their folk memory lives on in the realm of legend.

Picture: I imagined that Arthur’s banner would combine his family association with the dragon, and the animal after which he is named – the bear.

The book series can now be found on one page on Amazon and the e-books or paperbacks ordered with ONE CLICK
The e-books are also available on Apple ibooks; Kobo; Nook; 24Symbols; Scribd; Playster; Montadori; Indigo; Overdrive; Tolino; Bibliotecha; Hoopla; Angus & Robertson and now Vivlio  HERE

A Light in the Dark Ages book series

Welcome Amy Maroney…

I grew up in Northern California and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. I come from a family of bookworms, of writers and editors, of wanderers who love to travel and explore the natural world. In my childhood home, television was strictly regulated and reading was encouraged instead.
I went on to major in English literature in college and began a career as a writer and editor of nonfiction soon after graduating.

Eventually my husband and I welcomed our first child to the world and my writing career took a back burner to the demands and joys of parenting. I continued to freelance part time and took graduate courses in public policy while we added another child to the mix. Meanwhile, I got involved in various volunteer gigs and began a graduate thesis when disaster struck in the shape of a debilitating stroke shortly after my 40th birthday.

The stroke and its aftermath were a game-changer. I realized that perhaps I didn’t have as much time on this planet as I had imagined. During my recovery, I put aside my thesis and gave myself permission to seriously pursue creative work. I began writing fiction and mapping out plots for a series of pharmaceutical thrillers, the first of which has the intriguing title, The Sunscreen Caper.
Then we had the good fortune to fulfil a long-standing dream: we rented out our house and travelled with our kids for ten months. It was a magical experience. Inspired by our travels, I began researching and writing the first book of The Miramonde Series: The Girl from Oto. Everything in the book draws on our trip, but it is also influenced by my previous stints living in France and Germany. I loved every minute of writing the story. The sequel, Mira’s Way, followed in 2018.

Now Amy writes page-turners about extraordinary women of the medieval and Renaissance eras…

The Promise

This series prequel novella will transport you five hundred years into the past…

It is 1483, and the Pyrenees mountains are a dangerous place for a woman.

Haunted by a childhood tragedy, mountain healer and midwife Elena de Arazas navigates the world like a bird in flight.

An unexpected romance shatters her solitary existence, giving her new hope. But when her dearest friend makes an audacious request, Elena faces an agonizing choice.

Will she be drawn back into the web of violence she’s spent a lifetime trying to escape?

Click here for your free download of The Promise. Learn more at www.amymaroney.com.

Find Amy Maroney on Twitter @wilaroney, on Instagram @amymaroneywrites and on Pinterest @amyloveshistory.

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Innerverse poet, James Linton, to Poet’s Corner. Tell us a bit about yourself, James…

My name is James Linton and writing is what I do.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really been good at and the only thing that I really enjoy.  I’ve been writing all my life from my silly childhood stories of a talking bird and cat super team, to cringy angst-filled teenage poetry and short stories on all types of topics: tragedy, love, children’s lit, crime and however you would class the Story of Esme Esmerelda.  I’ve also done some freelance student and travel blogging.

In the past six years, I’ve been writing performance poetry and I love it.  I love the accessibility of the medium and I love performing it.  It’s the best high, but my first love will always be prose. I’m editing my first book at the moment – a post-apocalyptic dystopia focussing on humanity trying to start again.  I’m also writing my second book now – The Willow Tree, a fictionalised retelling of my experiences working in a care home.

Writing has certainly taken me on a strange journey throughout my life, but I can’t wait to see where it will take me next. Please read more of my work here.

Size Four Footprints

 “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato

The fire crackles
as she walks through the sand
leaving behind size four footprints
a fighter plane reflects in her brother’s eye

A ringing in her ears,
as she holds her up extra-small hands
the lens looking like a barrel
the ground buzzing beneath her size four footprints

Shards of glass are tucked into the sand,
as she tiptoes over the stone and concrete,
clutching onto her little pony
one last present from her father

Their voices scream freedom
as she peeks from underneath the red-patched door
holding her breath
as the combat boots march past

Stacks of green bulge from Their Gucci and Prada
as she scavenges for copper and brass
dust coating her pigtails
salt sticking to her cheeks The Eye scans the waste
as she claims she’s a friend, she wants no more,
the Eye locks on, the hammer drops,
only the dead have seen the end of war.

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 – 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 �=

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