Art was one of my favourite lessons at school - we got to muck around with clay and carve out lino with sharp knives and slap paint around. The masterpieces never quite turned out how I'd imagined them though! Clay would take on a life of its own or the knife would slip ... it's the same with writing. In theory the words swoop around and arrange themselves into perfect prose. In practice, they need to be beaten into place with a stick. But sometimes when you least expect it, it all comes together sweet as.
I'd love to take the credit for this, but in truth as always there's a massive debt to be paid to my wonderful friends and family who have sort of volunteered to Alpha read. You know who you are and thank you! With your help, book #3 in the Griffin Riders' Chronicles is nearing completion. It's still lacking a title and way behind schedule. There's a good reason for this, honest, and as soon as I think of it, I'll let you know. Any suggestions for procrastination welcome, as are any title suggestions for book #3.
Meantime, if you want to grab a goodie for your kindle, Jenny Worstall's fabulous romantic comedy "Make a Joyful Noise" is available to download free for a couple of days.
'Make a Joyful Noise' is the sparkling tale of a choir preparing for a very special Christmas performance of "Belshazzar's Feast".
We meet a host of characters who are mercilessly sent up by the author: Lucy the staggeringly trusting young music teacher, Tristan the lecherous anti-hero, Miss Greymitt the ageing and slightly arthritic choir pianist, Steve the handsome and trustworthy bass, Claire the shameless and scheming temptress, and singers with nothing but resonance between their ears.
Just as all does not run smoothly for King Belshazzar or the inhabitants of Babylon in Walton's music, so the characters in the novel suffer from hopeless yearnings, romantic misunderstandings and the unfortunate consequences of their own misguided actions.
All is sharply and wittily observed in a delightful mix of romance, music and humour.
(Multi talented Jenny provided musical advice for The Griffin Cryer.)
On 12 August 1914 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrived in France, expecting to be home by Christmas. But the only men home for Christmas were those shipped back in wooden boxes. The massacre of Allied and Axis armies continued for another four years.
As the fictional Captain Blackadder commented. "(this) war would have been a damn sight simpler if we'd just stayed in England and shot fifty thousand of our men a week."
A hundred years have passed and the tragic loss of a generation still evokes haunting thoughts of what might have been, if only the entire leadership of the Western world hadn't been hell bent on proving who had the biggest stick.
In his latest novel "Time and Time Again." Ben Elton (co-creator of Blackadder, with Richard Curtis) revisits the war to end all wars, but in a very different genre from his previous WW1 novel, which was a murder/mystery.
"Time and Time Again" is more of a fantasy: if the protagonist succeeds in his time travelling mission, World War One will never happen. Imagine that.
I like Ben Elton a lot; talented, funny, older than me — plus he was also born in the world's most beautiful city! So I can't wait to start reading "Time and Time Again", if only to discover how Ben Elton deals with the consequences of meddling with history.
For now, I've traveled back a little less further in time, and appropriately for "poppy week" am engrossed in a World War Two diary "I Think I Prefer The Tinned Variety", written by an eighteen year old who volunteered for the Navy's Fleet Air Arm. Until he joined up, Norman Buckle had rarely ventured too far from his tiny Yorkshire village, where his father, and his father before him, were coal miners. The diary has been edited and published by Norman's daughter, Cathy Murray. Diary entries are expanded upon by Cathy, so helping to paint a very vivid picture of these tumultuous years.
On a personal note, my own family were heartbroken when our lovely Len died, a few years short of his own centenary. I always called him Lenny boy and he was the last of my great uncles and grandparents. Two years on, it's really beginning to hit home that there's no-one I can talk to for first hand memories of World War Two. I'm sure he knew just how much he was loved and cherished - but at our weekly pint at the Soldiers Return, we tended to argue politics, or chat about football. I suppose some memories are best left unspoken.
Even more heartbreaking are these statistics from the Falkland's War, provided by the South Atlantic Medal Association (2012):
"During the two-month war 255 British troops were killed. But that figure has been eclipsed by the number of Falklands veterans who have committed suicide – currently around 300." If only that wasn't so, but these statistics seem proof, if anyone needs it, that war doesn't only take life, it ruins lives.
Ben Elton isn't the first to imagine waving a magic wand and erasing war from the history books; maybe we can all imagine that -
Wren Prenderson; "A Ripple in Time" best hero.
"The Griffin Cryer" best Urban Fantasy. Thank you to the hard working judges and everyone who voted at the eFestival of Words, organised by Julie Dawson, of Bards & Sages.
A Raucous Time, A Ripple in Time, and The Griffin Cryer. Thank you to Julie and her hard working panel of judges and reviewers.
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