Sad News

Today I found out my Reiki Master, a lovely lady called Sue, died of cancer in July. She survived her husband only by three months. The sad part is, she obviously didn’t want anyone to know. I found out by accident, because someone we both knew works at a place I volunteer in and she had found out the news.

I think Sue simply wanted everyone to remember her as she was. I can think of no other reason why she would block us out. But having lost my father to cancer 13 years ago, I can understand why she would want to. I have to hope she made her peace with her Gods and found peace where ever she has gone. She was a great believer in healing and crystals and alternative therapies.

In the end though she was also a great believer in life’s journey and the journey of the soul. I doubt her journey has ended simply because her body is now dust. She was too forceful, too positive and too fearless to simply stop. I hope her spirit is journeying even now and finding new adventures and new loves, old ones too.

Love to you, Sue. Thank you for your wisdom and teachings. Thank you too for your time and energy and friendship. May the Goddess hold you in her hands and carry your soul onward to whatever awaits.

Blessed be.

Unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial

Bomber Command is close to my heart. You only need to read my books or read my blog to understand that. Finally there is to be a memorial to all those brave lads who lost their lives flying on missions to bomb our adversaries during WW2. However, even now, flack (pun definitely intended) seems to follow Bomber Command and its controversial missions. Even Churchill virtually turned his back on them, choosing to distance himself. Sorry, mate, you gave the orders. The buck stops here, as they say.

The BBC is not covering the event ‘live’. Unusual. This is exactly the sort of thing they cannot get enough of as a rule. The event is also suffering what sounds like bad organisation.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160077/Hundreds-veterans-miss-unveiling-bomber-command-memorial-allowed-cancellations.html

Why on earth were veterans missed off the invitations list? It would make sense to me to invite ALL of them. They deserve it after all. But no, something has gone wrong there, with many missing out because they didn’t access a website nobody told them about? Something is definitely off with this one.

The Batte of Britain Memorial Flight is set to fly over and release hundreds of poppy petals. I can only hope this goes according to plan as the idea is perfect.

I was happy to donate some of my royalties from Per Ardua to the Bomber Command Memorial. It gave me great pleasure to do so. The center piece, a nine foot high group of figures, a seven-man crew from a Lancaster, is impressive and, in my opinion, perfectly captured. I can only hope that the mistakes made with the organisation of the opening doesn’t mar what promises to be an otherwise great event.

Lest we forget.

Join Sherlock Forum, The Discussion board for all things Sherlock.

Okay so I have succumbed to a new fandom. I adore the new Sherlock series by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss. It is past its second series and while it remains inspired by the original stories, it puts a new twist on the tales.

As a long time fan of the original stories and of the series that flourished in the 1980s with Jeremy Brett in the lead, I wondered at this new version and how faithful it would be. Bang up to date and bringing a modern slant to the characters, with blogging and texting taking over from broadsheet articles and sending telegrams, the new Sherlock moves at a pace concurrent with 21st century living – fast and furious. There is a gentle acceptance of homosexuality, even in Watson’s insistance that they are not in a relationship and he is not gay. Sherlock noticeably neither confirms or denies this of himself.  Gatiss is himself gay, in a civil partnership with actor Ian Hallard, the man who appears briefly as Moriarty’s lawyer in the last episode, Reichenbach Fall. Inevitable, then, that there is allusion to this aspect of the Holmes/Watson relationship. Despite the fanfiction, these two men are friends, first and foremost, and so far they haven’t gone down that route. The deep and lasting friendship these two characters have is very prevalent and resists being made into something it never was in the books.

The new Sherlock for the 21st Century is Benedict Cumberbatch, quite frankly a very talented and striking man whose talent is seemingly only exceeded by his kindness. He sounds a really nice person, a perfectionist who appreciates those around him and always seems to have something nice to say about his co-stars.

Of course the grounding presence of Dr Watson in the form of Martin freeman is a perfect foil to Cumberbatch’s edgy, high-functioning, borderline-Aspergers Holmes. There is more to Dr Watson these days that meets the eye. If what has been revealed in canon is to be believed, then Dr Watson is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and were it not for the injuries he was invalided out of the army for, would be no doubt pursuing some extreme sport or other. As Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (expertly played by Gatiss himself) points out, Watson doesn’t fear the war, he misses it. To be an RAMC, experiencing the violent death and severe injuries from IEDs in Afghanistan day in, day out, he would be suffering some severe PTSD himself. There are some interesting articles written by trauma surgeons who served out there. one thing is certain. John loves the adrenaline rush. When Sherlock asks John is he’s seen action, the exchange goes like this –

Sherlock – “Seen a lot of injuries, then?… violent deaths?”
John – “Yes.”
Sherlock – “Bit of trouble, too, I bet.”
John – “Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime… far too much. “
Sherlock – “Want to see some more?”

Watson’s reply is very telling about his character and loaded with longing. Said with an eagerness that seems almost indecent, “Oh, God yes.” Seriously screwed up is our dear doctor. He even gets away with killing someone to save the man he’s known less than a couple of days.

Now, I am not one for forums as a rule but the Sherlock Forum has sprung up and has collected a little core of friendly folks with a similar interest. If you like the series, I suggest you give it a go.

I feel a marathon Sherlock/Torchwood/Doctor Who session coming on. After all, I have to have something to keep me interested until filming begins on series three early in 2013! 2013? I’ll never be able to wait that long… Oh well, I will still have the fandom community to keep me going.

Roll on 2013…

Happy New Year

Just to wish my readers, my friends and my family a Happy New Year and Season’s Greetings. I hope you all had a wonderful time and here’s wishing you all good health, love and prosperity for 2012.

Sad News

I learned today that one of my writing idols, Anne McCaffrey, has died at her home in Ireland on the 21st November, aged 85. The author of dozens of books, including the Dragon Riders of Pern series, the Crystal Singer books and one of my all time favourites, The Ship Who Sang, has been one of my favourite writers for decades. She was the first woman recipient of both Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction writing and an icon of the science fiction and fantasy genre. I can blame my best friend for getting me hooked. She introduced me to the Pern series with Dragonflight in the early 1980s, closely followed by The Ship Who Sang.

Apparently Anne only started writing when she was 50 and my thought was always “well, there’s hope for me yet.” So I kept going and hoping and now I’m a published writer at 49. So, Anne, I made it, and you gave me hope that I would. I wish I could have thanked you for that.

She was a lovely lady, I was privileged to have met her at conventions more than once and even heard her do a heart-wrenching reading from the Ship Who Sang (there wasn’t a dry eye in the room) at World Con 1987 in Brighton. She was a wonderfully accessible guest, approachable and always appreciative of her fans. I learned a lot from that, always vowing that’s how I would be if I ever got to her exalted status as a writer; never to forget my fans, the people who got me there. Without the folks who buy our books, we authors are nothing, after all. A book tightly shut is just a block of paper, as the Chinese proverb goes. If nobody buys your books, they remain blocks of paper. Thousands bought your books, Anne, and deservedly so.

My friend reminded me of the time we got stuck in a lift with her, on the way, I recall, to that very same reading in a hotel in Brighton. The lift was at capacity but came to a halt between floors. When we were rescued (thankfully they managed to get the lift to the next floor so we could walk off) we were accused of having too many people in the lift and were counted off (we felt like naughty kids). It turned out that there had been the correct number of people (even if it felt like too many) but then someone saw the firelizard model on my shoulder and so he got the blame for being the extra weight, all six inches of him! I remember Anne appreciated the joke.

If I leave half the legacy to the writing world that Anne has left behind her I shall be more than happy and I don’t expect I shall even scratch the surface, but you never know. I keep hoping and working to that end. Who knows what the future will bring. May the Dragons keen for your passing, Anne, and I shall continue to read your books and introduce my own children to them.

Where ever you are, may the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warmly upon your face, and the rain fall softly on your fields, and, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Most of all, may there be dragons, lots of them.

God bless and thank you.

 

Remembrance Sunday

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

On this Remembrance Sunday I wanted to blog today to say thank you, thank you to all those who risk (and have risked) their lives on a daily basis in the name of peace.

Different conflicts demand different approaches. Sometimes it takes strength to back down and compromise. Sometimes one cannot compromise, and it takes strength to take up arms, and sometimes one needs to find a way to lay them down again and that, too, can be hard. However, such is the nature of human beings that it seems we will always be fighting and compromising and negotiating and demanding and discriminating and hating and loving and supporting and tearing down.

We are emotional beings. Both hatred and love come easily to us. On a personal level then, conflict is inevitable somewhere down the long road through the journey of our lives. We disagree with our loved ones, our friends, our employers, our co-workers, customers, acquaintances and complete strangers. We have our likes, our dislikes, things that please us, things that anger us. The trick is to know what is important, with any of it. What is worth upholding our principles for and what is worth letting go. Sometimes the letting go is harder to do.

I also want to say thank you to anyone who has supported a friend recently too. Friends are a network we rely on, the people who support us when we have been in conflict, armed or otherwise. Some of my friends and family have been in their own personal conflicts and I have tried to be there for them, knowing only too well that it is a hard thing to do to watch someone you love suffer and to be that rock that their personal waves need to break over. Remember that sometimes, too, the smallest gesture is often the most important.

To those who stand to protect what they believe in, to those who negotiate and compromise in the name of peace, to those who help the victims of conflict, not to mention those who stand fast at home and keep the home fires burning, as the old phrase goes, you are owed many, many a heartfelt thank you.

In this last year we have seen dictatorships overthrown and terrorism raising its ugly head once more. Our troops  are still overseas and more war dead are flown home. We have seen the town of Wootton Bassett given royal status after its citizens turned out on a regular basis to honour those British soldiers whose bodies were repatriated via the airfield nearby; just ordinary people standing in tribute to the sacrifice of those who are making their final journey home. Ordinary people doing something because they feel it is the right thing to do. I say thank you for that too.

My books, as you probably know, have a WW2 theme. They have given me the chance to contribute to the memory of those men who fell in the line of duty and those who made it back damaged, but alive. Due to those books, I have been able to contribute a little to the Help the Heroes fund as well as a deserved contribution to the long-overdue memorial for Bomber Command that I hope to see unveiled next year.  If you want to contribute, then go to Help for Heroes website and find out what they do (link below) and the Bomber Command website too, if you feel inclined.

http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/

http://www.rafbombercommand.com/master_welcome.html

One thing I would add. If you disagree with our soldiers fighting abroad, then please get angry with the government, not with our armed forces. Make your opinion known by all means, but aim it at the right people. I am sick of hearing people complain and disrespect the soldiers and airmen and sailors when it is not their fault where they are sent and what orders they are given. They signed on the dotted line to lay down their lives of necessary in defense of this realm of ours. Would you do the same?

Wear your poppy with pride and remember our war dead, remember their sacrifice as an impossible-to-repay gift. A man none of you may have heard of (I certainly hadn’t), John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 – 1958), an English Classicist, is credited for having written a famous epitaph in the allied war cemetery in Kohima. In 1944 during World War II the Battle of Kohima along with the simultaneous Battle of Imphal, was apparently the turning point in the Burma Campaign. These words will sign off my blog on this Remembrance Sunday more eloquently than I can.

” When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today. ”

Lest we forget.

Thank you.

My New Cover and Release Date

Life Begins at Forty

Here’s the new cover for my new novella, Life Begins at Forty. Painted by Paul Richmond of Ohio, USA, in my opinion he’s captured the characters of Jack and Ifan perfectly and chosen a wonderful moment from the book to focus on. See the link below or to the right to check out his website and take a peek at his cheeky cheesecake boys, his own take on the pin-up girl portraits of the 1950s.

http://www.paulrichmondstudio.com/

This is a sequel to Per Ardua, set six years later. A new decade has arrived, it is 1950 and a brave new world beckons but a poison pen targets the Welsh community Jack and Ifan call home and suddenly their relationship is threatened with exposure. Can they weather this attack? Will it split them asunder or make them stronger? Find out on the 12th October.  Click the picture on the left, the one in the sidebar, to go straight to the book’s page at Dreamspinner Press to order. It will retail at $4.99 and is currently available as an e-book only.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=55_297&products_id=2554