Soldier, Soldier!

Judging by the number of people who have liked my FB page recently, this title will go straight to their hearts. Yes, I like soldiers, but, as I have said on many, many occasions, this does NOT mean I stand on street corners near barracks swinging a handbag and asking passing squaddies if they are looking for company, it means I feel a deep respect for those who put on a uniform in defence of their home and a deeper respect for their courage in being willingly doing so.

I discovered this Affection for the military mainly through reading, but I am of that generation whose grandfathers fought World War One and whose fathers fought World War Two.

My first “date” was inevitably with the likes of Harry Smith, Johnny Kincaid and Sir Arthur Wellesley, you can’t be a teenage girl, read all those Regency Romances without wondering why all those young men went off to “The Peninsula,” …well I suppose you could, but I’m not made like that, I read and I read and I read, so when I met my husband and we had our first date and he found not only did I know about Elizabeth Longford’s “Wellington : The Years of the Sword”, but I’d read it and could talk. without sounding like an idiot, on the Napoleonic Wars, he tells me he was hooked. I think we knew we were made for each other even before we had agreed on the superiority of square over column, although it might all have fallen when he kept referring to my beloved Rifle Brigade as “cocky little bastards in green uniforms”. He still does it and I grit my teeth.

So we got married and I learned more than I wanted to know about “The War of the Spanish Succession” , but never enough about The H.E.I.C and The Indian Army. In time I came to write stuff and inevitably soldiers became a part of much of what I wrote, even the paranormal stories, which my adoring family refer to as “Ma’s weird stuff”…seriously,  eleven hours in labour and this is the respect you get. My  lady occult detective, Mrs Lillicrop” is the wife of an Indian Army officer, even though no-one yet knows what has happened to Major Lillicrop, maybe I’ll tell you one of these days.

I wrote a book called “Jabin” which is stuffed with soldiers. It is currently out of print, but I will get around to re-publishing it soon. Amazon frightens the life out of me and I need to build myself up to the trauma of adding a book, it always ends with me in tears and wailing for help from several long suffering friends.

However,,,should you feel like seeing if I can handle the military successfully, may I point you in the direction of “The Lord of the Faran Hills“, a tale of muskets and mercenaries.

https://tinyurl.com/yyzd7hve

I am currently working on a new Mrs Lillicrop story and at the back of my mind there is brewing a new book, Time will no doubt bring both to the front if this irritating fatigue lets up, it is one of my the main bug bears of the embuggerance, this feeling of being sand bagged every now any again, however, we will not allow it to stop the advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Occult Detective Quarterly

Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t been around for a while, but here we are again.

There are in this wicked old world some publications with the most delicious names, but few can match the delightfully named “Occult Detective Quarterly”.  This journal makes no attempt to hide its content, it does exactly what it says on the cover.

To quote its own web site

OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY MAGAZINE is devoted to those intrepid investigators who investigate the weird, exotic and bizarre. These are the people who explore the darkness, both within and beyond, often to their own peril and the expense of their very lives and sanity.”

As some of you know, when not writing scific/fantasy novels packed with soldiers and young heroes of dubious morality, I like to indulge in writing short stories of the weird and wild and wicked, some of you will remember the man who had sex with his garden pond and the one about the mushrooms.

If you also feel the need to have fingers crawl up your spine and to check behind the curtains every time a draft makes them move, I’m sure the contents of the quarterly will be just the thing to interfere with your sleep pattern.

If you are interested, may I direct you to John Linwood Grant’s excellent blog where he talks about the OCD and about his beloved long dogs (lurchers). There are links to were to obtain copies of The ODQ as well.

greydogtales.com

 

So far I’ve not had the honour of being published in the journal, but I am to have the privilege of being part of their first anthology.

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There I am, first on the list 🙂

I’ve mentioned before my occult detective, Mrs Lillicrop, and this will be her first outing. I hope it won’t be her last. The story is set in the 1930s and Mrs. Lillicrop may or may not be, a war widow. She lives in Chelsea and it is important to note that she doesn’t knit.

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

Ye banks and braes

To my astonishment and enormous delight, several people have enjoyed “Mrs Lillicrop Investigates” and it is possible the story will see the light of publication in the not to distant future. More later.

It has inspired me to write another tale about my lady occult detective. It is very much work in progress, but the working title is “Mrs Lillicrop Goes to Scotland.” The cast of characters so far includes a handsome laird, a nervous wife, a difficult mother-in-law and batty sister-in-law in need of a good slap, several manifestations of a disruptive nature and a very drafty castle. Add over cooked venison, under cooked mutton, porridge, lashing of single malt and some shortbread and all the components of the occult are present.

Why Scotland I hear you cry…okay I don’t, but bear with me I’m in composition mode and its hard to turn it off. Two reasons…first,  my BFF has just up sticks from Kent and the roar of planes overhead for the tranquil beauties of Argyll and sea loch views. She tells me she is still getting used to the lack of noise, except for when the dog considers it is his duty to bark at all passing boats in case they are carrying invaders.

And second, because I fell in love with the Highlands when we visited a few years ago and I wanted to set a story there. And this is in spite of nearly being killed by a gentleman who’d had a liquid breakfast and decided to sleep it off while driving along the A96 straight at me. We left our written off car at a garage by Culloden, which some how seemed appropriate.

Even this excitement didn’t put me off and I really wanted to write something set in this beautiful land, but until now, nothing came to mind. I admit that Fara in “The Lord of the Farans Hills” is a thinly disguised Scotland, but it isn’t the real thing.

Its not just the beauties of the Scots scenery which calls to me, it is tradition and one particular tradition more than any other. More years ago than I like to remember, I married a military historian and got corrupted by The British Army. I was a little corrupted already, having been seduced by Regency Romances into reading up on the Peninsula War and falling for such characters as Johnny Kincaid, Sir John Moore and Harry Smith…there will now be a brief pause while I and the previously mentioned military historian who is reading this over my shoulder have our usual fight over what he has the audacity to call “a bunch of cocky little bastards in green jackets” and I call my beloved Rifle Brigade…hang on, there maybe hitting.

Back to Scotland…you can guess where I’m going, all those glorious regiments with their wonderful names…The Black Watch, The Gordons, The Cameronians etc etc.

Someone once asked me if I was going into battle (please god it never happens, read military history, it will make you a pacifist faster than anything else) who would I want surrounding me. Membership of my army has changed over the years, but one choice always remains, I want Highlanders in front.

Who goes on the right and left flank…go for it Macaulay!

Then out spake Spurius Lartius,—

A Ramnian proud was he:

“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

And out spake strong Herminius,—
       
  Of Titian blood was he:

“I will abide on thy left side,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

I’d apologise for that if I had any restraint or a grain of conscience.

So who will be on the flanks or even bringing up the rear? My adored Rifles, any regiment of Sikhs or Gurkhas you care to name and the Brigade of Guards…all of them, we aren’t doing this by halves. With a Highland regiment advancing, pipes sounding, I think there would be a good chance of surviving the day.

The Highlands, the mountains and the lochs, the forests and the heather, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and if you have never seen it, you should. Robert Burns said “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,” and English as I am through and through, I think he might have been right.
   

Muskets Are Here

Hi everyone.

I am very pleased to say my next book “The Lord of the Faran Hills” will be available on Amazon Kindle in the next few days (possibly hours).

When Aulay Fitzgellis allowed himself to be talked into rebellion against his brother the king, it never cross his mind he might not win.

Now the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders is the leader of the mercenaries who defeated him.

Lord Darach of the Faran Hills is willing to save Aulay, but he also has a few other things on his mind, there’s the possibilities of a new weapon called a “musket” and there’s also the problem of stopping the bagpipers from assaulting his ears with their so called music.”

I’ve had a lot of fun writing this, loads of research on muskets and how an army works on the march. I also got to play a wargame while I worked out how a siege. I must thank my lovely husband for the loan of his model castle – yes, -I know I moaned like hell when you monopolised the dining room table while you were building it, but I didn’t know then how useful it was going to be.

If you give the book a try, let me know what you think, I love to hear from readers.