“The Root of Earth”

Human beings aren’t supposed to be alone. I know there are some individuals who like their own company and don’t need others, but they are few and far between, taken as a whole humans need other humans. Withholding social contact is one of the unkindest things you can do to another person, but it is so very easy to do it without malice, some people are very easy to over look.

Loneliness has been occupying my thoughts for awhile now, worrying me and bothering me. Not for myself, I am surrounded by a crowd of loud self-opinionated extroverts who wouldn’t allow anyone to be alone no matter how hard they begged, and I have my lovely sewing friends as well, but I am concerned for others and as always happens with me, a story began to form in my head., so after a period of inactivity, my oddly wired brain has dragged me away from the sewing machine and back to the key board.

I have begun a new book with the working title “The Root of Earth“…kudos to anyone who can tell me where I have nicked that from. If all goes to the plan which is scribbled on the back of half a dozen receipts and in the posh notebook The Military Historian bought me for the purpose of note taking and which I keep forgetting, it will be a sci-fic story about a colony ship.

I can almost hear the groans of “Oh god, not another one“, but I think I may have found a bit of a twist on this well trodden path. The first one being the ship gets to its destination which I notice rarely happens in most colonisation stories, so often they get lost, have a mutiny or find someone else got there first causing endless problems – none of this will happen here, I promise. The story is more about what happens when you land a lot of people on a place they are now going to have to call home whether they like it or not, because there is no return ticket if you change your mind. This is not the situation best suited to loners, loners won’t survive.

Next…my main cast of characters has no men, not one. I have a woman and four girls and a gender neutral computer. This is a complete change of direction for me,  I have on several occasions been criticised for “not having a positive role model for women” in my work. My argument has always been that surely the fact the books are written by a woman should be enough to show I am positive. There will be make characters of course, but I don’t think many of them will be taking centre stage. I could be wrong, characters have a habit of demanding a part of the action despite a writers best intentions.

Changing the subject, the nameless military tart in my last blog has been named by a contributor as “Gordon Pasha Tart” after General Gordon who was killed at Khartoum. Since then another recipe experiment has gone extremely well and “Younghusband Tart” will be shared here in due course. We are still going down the Victorian soldier route and as this one has mountains of nut brittle, Younghusband got the honour.

I am working on a very decadent idea involving chocolate, hazel nuts and butter and if it works it will be “Charles Napier Tart” because it will be a sinful pleasure.

I will add the recipes soon.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Can’t Spell.

Who can’t spell?

Me.

Call yourself a writer and you can’t spell?

Yes, I do, despite a very nasty comment by some troll who picked up one of my blunders on a forum with no spell checker. God, how I love a spell checker function.

Why can’t I spell? Because, like so many others I am dyslexic, what was once called “word blind”. It’s been the bane of my life, it stopped me from writing many, many years because I couldn’t get down on paper what was rampaging through my head. When technology and I finally got it together and I was let loose on my first word processor, all the stories and people inside my head could come flooding out.

And, oh my, did they flood.

I wrote three full length novels (very, very full length) in the space of a year. Will they ever see the light of day ?…not without a hell of a lot of editing and revising and deleting the bits which make even me wince they won’t. Although “Jabin” is a distillation from that pot. I’ll tell you more about him another time.

What is it like being dyslexic?

It’s a pain in the backside and it makes you a very easy target for all the bullies out there, one more thing for them to point their destructive finger at and mock. For me hell on earth used to be reading out loud, because there was sure to be a word I would struggle with, one where the context wasn’t giving me a clue and where my carefully learnt phonetic tools didn’t play the game…the English language is peppered with these little “got ya” gems. It was even worse in a foreign language. One particular teacher of French got her kicks from picking on me when it was a difficult passage. I can see her smug self satisficed smile even now and the gloating smirk she had when ridiculing my struggle. Not all school bullies are kids.

Words like “were”, “where”, “was”, “what” etc. all had a tendency to look the same and out of context, especially on a flash card (possibly the worse way to tell a kid to read ever), I was stumped and, because I could recognise words like “church”…its got steeples…and “aeroplane”…cos its got two wings up and down…accused of not trying with all those so called “easy” words. “Through”, “though,” “tough”,”thought”, “there”, “their”, “then” and “them” were a bloody mine field.

When it came to essay writing and every bit of homework I ever produced, they were decorated with red ink and a curt “use of dictionary if you do not know how to spell a word”.

Great advice…if you know you’ve spelled it wrong! And no matter how often you read through something, if you are dyslexic, you are unlikely to see you’ve gone wrong. I once used the same word in an essay five times, I spelled it wrong each time and each time it was different!

Today I am much better than I was, you learn loads of little tricks as life progresses and the spell checker helps, but only up to a certain point. I often know the word I want to use, but I have NO idea how it is spelled, so little idea in fact that the spell checker does its equivalent of throwing in the towel; then it is off to Roget and The Concise Oxford to see if I offer them enough clues to find it. These days I quite enjoy the search.

How does this all work with the books I write? As an Indie and now a self publishing author, I have never had the luxury of a content author, but I have a small number of wonderful beta readers who do not hesitate to tell me if I have let standards slip or have made a complete hash of the plot line…thank you, people, I love you and couldn’t manage without you.

And I have my two line editors. One is the military historian of course, whose complete inability to understand subtly or poetry in words keeps me from almost all moments of self indulgence (not all of then, I manage to slip the odd bit of romanticism by him every now and then) and the other is Dave, who finds all the nits. I feel bad asking him to do this, but he recently said it was not too bad, because he now knows all my dyslexic stumbling blocks and spot them coming. Thanks, hon. I am so grateful to you and for all you do for me.

If you want to check out Dave’s brilliant work, go and have a look my book page.

Please click follow to join me in my writing, cooking, quilting world.

 

 

Soldiers of Fortune

“The Lord of the Faran Hills” is now live on Amazon.

Huzzah!

The soldiers in the book are mercenaries, but before you recoil in horror, its worth remembering not all soldiers of fortune are without merit.

Our own much loved Brigade of Gurkhas are technically mercenaries, they are foreign nationals we employ to fight for us and they are the pattern of honourable service I used for my troops.

Farans might fight because they are paid to fight, but that is all they do, they don’t turn on the civilian population causing as much or even more misery than the supposed enemy, unlike the many examples who ravaged Europe during the 14th and 15thC.

When fighting is your profession, you obviously take a keen interest in developments in the tools of your trade. At the beginning of the book Lord Darach and his men rely on swords, crossbows and the pike, they know about “gonnes”, they just aren’t convinced about their reliability or flexibility, but when offered the advancement of the musket, they will be among the first of their kind to exploit its potential.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072R61BJS

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B072R61BJS

 

 

 

Kicking Gaea

Last week someone broke into a French zoo, killed one of their rhinos, used a chain saw to remove its horn and ran away. No doubt they will make a shed load of money and some morons will believe they will get some benefit from drinking powdered rhino horn in their tea.

Its a pity the world has so many morons and so few rhinos.

But the almost certain extinction of the rhinoceros along with the remaining megafauna, it just part and parcel of us kicking Gaea. Environmentalists scream and beg and plead, but the politicians and their best buddies, big business turn a deaf ear or offer up endless promises of jam and a better world tomorrow.

Gerry Durrell saw all this coming back in the 1950s and 60s and in his wonderful books he entertained and warned us about what was coming. He also did something – he set up the Jersey Zoo, (now called Durrell after him) and all its conservation projects and programmes.

So what do you do if, like me, you’re a dedicated fan of GD, an armchair eco-warrior and a writer of weird stories who also loves to write science fiction, fantasy and adventure stories…you write a science fiction/fantasy adventure book of course!

“The Tattooed Tribes” is about eco-warriors who get out of their armchairs and go and stop the rape of their world, who fight to maintain sustainability and to protect the rights of the ingenious people.

Hang on, dear reader, before you slam the door on the pious pain in the arse who has just knocked on your front door…this is also a romp, an adventure story and a coming of age story. I offer you kidnapped tribal maidens, rebellious teenagers, strong minded ethical heroes and a bunch of villainous villains.

Give it a try and tell me what you think.

AMAZON

AMAZON UK

 

 

 

Author Torture 1: Justin Lee Anderson

I thought it would be fun to interview a few fellow authors.

Actually, I thought it would be more fun to torment a few fellow authors, so welcome to the torture parlour ( its a bit like a torture chamber, but with cushions, chintz and shag pile carpets).

My first victim is Justin Lee Anderson author of the highly original and very amusing “Carpet Diem”.

HERE WE GO

You are marooned on a desert island and find a magic lamp. You get the traditional three wishes, but keep in mind I’m not letting you off the island, so don’t start pleading or trying to escape. You can only have one practical item, other people will not be allowed and will be taken away and dumped on an island far, far away and the wish forfeited. Smut is permitted if it makes me laugh.

Hmmm. What constitutes “practical”? Can I have a fully-fitted smarthouse? Because, at that point, I’m probably good. Oh, wait, I’m going to want internet. And a laptop. Will Sainsbury’s deliver?

Your library is on fire and you’re only going to be able to save three books, name them. And as your own are save on the memory stick in your dressing gown pocket, the books in question will have to be someone else’s work J

Credit will not be given for naming my books, but there may be cake.

Yikes! I think my beautiful, old leather-bound copy of Wuthering Heights has to come. After that, it’s two signed books, I think, since I can replace the rest. So Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself and the first run version of Jasper Fforde’s First Among Sequels, which was accidentally printed without footnotes (which are essential to the plot!).

You are going to be hanged in the morning, what would your last meal be if money was no object? Please don’t ask for something which will take three years to grow or six days to cook, because at 6am the trap door will open under you.

A fillet steak, with whisky-cream sauce, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes and asparagus tips. For dessert, home-made apple crumble with Luca’s ice cream. And if I’m off in the morning anyway, a bottle of Lagavulin – why die sober?

(You and I could share a last meal, Justin, although I’d swap the asparagus for mushrooms and there should be cheese after the pud.)

Pets. While I agree that a cat or a dog or a guinea pig is probably best in the modern home, what, if anything, would you house if you had the chance. Points will be given for anything extinct, but not for anything mythical, because that would be cheating.

Annoyingly, I love animals, but am horribly allergic to them. So I’d actually just love to be able to house a cat or a dog! But in the absence of an allergy cure, maybe a dolphin? They’re pretty smart, I’m sure they’d make great conversationalists. Plus, no hair on the sofa. Bonus.

Driving. We all do it, we all bitch about the traffic and by and large most of us drive what we can afford, not what we would like. What would you like to drive, points will be deducted for excessive petrol head indulgence, I expect more imagination from an author, but will be added for greener alternatives.

This obviously excludes a desire for a red Ferrari, because if you don’t want one of those, you need help.

I have always wanted a Jag. I imagine I will always want a Jag! A nice, racing green one. They’re such elegant machines. I’d also quite like a Tesla. Great looking car, but saving the world at the same time. Either one would make me very happy. Is there an electric Jag, yet?

Now from some “either” “or” questions, mainly because I like picking the eithers and the ors, but also because I like to see which of the lesser of two weevils you pick. (Small Jack Aubrey joke there, indulge me, I have these moments.)

Gouda or Gorgonzola?

Gorgonzola – especially on pizza, with spinach and walnuts.

Star Wars or Star Trek? (Careful here, much could depend on your pick)

Both, please. If I *have* to pick one, then Wars. But I resent having to pick.

Lychee or kumquat?

Flumhoo or blipblop?

 

(Ah, poor little kumquat, I fear you are not loved)

Winnie the Pooh or Paddington?

Probably Winnie the Pooh, for his philosophical insights. Plus, I hate marmalade.

Whelk or Oyster?

Never had whelk. Don’t mind oysters. Prefer mussels, if that’s all right? In garlic, white wine and cream. With fries.

Now I’m hungry.

Vampires or Zombies?

Both! Stop making me pick between things I love!

Laver bread or Hovis?

I don’t eat bread. It doesn’t agree with me. The fights go on for days.

Light sabre or phaser?

Light sabre. I’m all about the elegant.

Moving on…yes, I know the laver bread one was evil, but I did say I was into torture…book titles. Speaking for myself, book titles are the hardest part of writing, it took me six months to come up with the title of my first book, “Jabin”.

What is your favourite book title? Pick one of your own and one by someone else. Mine is

“Amazing Maisie and the Cold Porridge Brigade.”

And no, I didn’t just make that up.

Well, Carpet Diem being my only finished book so far, that’s an easy choice. Someone else’s? I like The Shadow of the Wind. Even before I read it, that title drew me in. It’s just so evocative – and I don’t even know what of!

Because you have been very good and not screamed all that much, you tell me what you are currently working on and when we can expect to see it in print.

I’m currently writing a sequel to Carpet Diem, working title: Discombobulated and Befuddled – but that will probably change – though I might keep it as an alternative title. It *should* be out by the end of the year – muse permitting. (My muse, not the band. They’re happy to let me write.)

Thank you for being a victim of my interrogation parlour. I hope you had a bit of fun.

You’re welcome. I did, thank you!

Carpet Diem is available here