Tag Archives: poetry

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 �=