A Writer’s Voice – The Shepherd’s Crown

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Many apologies for my extended absence this time. I still don’t want to talk about it though. Life happens all the time, to everyone, and whining doesn’t do much for me most of the time. Onward and forward is my preferred go-to. My other go-to is reading. I’ve read some fabulous books these past months, which I will post reviews for later-ish, as well as doing a big comment catch up, but for now I’m thinking about how unique us scribblers are.

Real readers are a discerning bunch. They’re just as much of a tribe as writers are, and it’s not easy to pull the wool over their eyes. They know what their favourite authors sound like. They know what the worlds in their favourite books look and feel like. They recognise the voices coming off the pages, and a lot of the time, if those voices don’t seem quite right, they will go to a lot of trouble to investigate and find out why. A lot of readers can research a lot of writers under the table. Sometimes they will be outraged when they find out the reason for their suspicion and dispense with a one star whopper of a scathing review. But sometimes they’ll just have a good cry, and keep a ten star review forever in their heart when they learn the reason for a book that doesn’t sound or feel as it should in some places.

Reading The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett was a very strange experience for me, and to begin with had me thinking that the publishers should have distributed the original unfinished manuscript to some of his die-hard fans to have a go at before sending it to professional editors. Any professional editor that read the finished book would probably have had a couple of issues anyway, even if they’d never read any other Discworld book before, but still, I thought that a couple of us Pratchett groupies would have done a better job at putting words in some of the character’s mouths. But then I completely changed my mind. The Shepherd’s Crown is perfect exactly as it is.

The thing is, it is full of Pratchett, and reading it from cover to cover, knowing that it is his final book—his swan song—was one of the most moving experiences for me precisely BECAUSE of the places where his voice was missing. It broke my heart, but in a comforting way. It was the only Discworld book that made me cry more than it made me laugh. I don’t want to put any spoilers here, but there was one huge thing that happened in the beginning of the book that was so right (even if it would have been fleshed out a-la-Pratchett a whole lot more if he had had the time to finish this book) for this final tale. You can just see “her” settling down next to him wherever he is now, nodding, accepting a cup of tea, and then heading off into whatever adventures are happening in that new to them world.

I haven’t posted a review for this one on Amazon or Goodreads yet, but I have read a lot of the ones already there, and they are so poignant and loving. How could any Terry Pratchett lover post a bad review for The Shepherd’s Crown? Of course I give it ten out of five stars, and of course I’ll read it again, just as I do all of his other books. A most fabulous and fitting end to the writing of a true legend.

It does just go to show though, how very powerful a brilliant writer’s voice can be. In my “day job” editing the books of Indie authors, I try to be as gentle as possible when it comes to their very unique voices, even if my fingers burn to advise a change to something that I would never dream of writing myself. Yonks ago, when eBooks were still only science-fiction, I remember being about twenty pages into The Running Man by Richard Bachman, when I thought, “This is Stephen King!”, and I was right. You can’t pull the wool over real readers’ eyes, and you really shouldn’t try to.

I Don’t Wanna Talk About It

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Yes – I’ve been away for a while. Things happen – we grow – or we don’t grow. I’m not going to apologise for life happening to me. Death and life – and then more death and a bit of hatred… You never know where it’s going to come from or how it will make you feel. And dodgy internet – oh yes. It happens to us all. So…..

I am going to be posting again – as regularly as I can. The one thing that has kept me sane over the past year of death, madness, and destruction, has been illustrating children’s books. I’ve also started fan girling my own Shadow People book. I’m going to fan this on Youtube and also here.

So, I hope you forgive my long absence, and accept my odd re-emergence…

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

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Feed My Reads South Africa

This was not an easy read. I did a lot of research into apartheid when I wrote African Me & Satellite TV, and just reading about some of the history of some of the things that were done to black people hurts badly. But even though you cringe in shame for the insanely barbaric doings of other whites, you can never feel the shame of millions of people for being classified as sub-human because of the colour of their skin. This book does a good job of getting you a little closer to that feeling than the any of the history books I’ve read.

I grew up smack bang in the middle of apartheid. Where even little white children expected “respect” from adult black people. I always found it weird how many people suddenly had stories about their black “friends” during the struggle after having seen very few real white…

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Ani’s Advent 2019! Peace, Sleep and A Disgruntled Story Reading Ape

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Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Hey Santa,

Well, I’ll be going home today and, to tell the truth, much as I’ve had fun with all the other animals, I’ll be glad of a rest. I may still be a pup at heart…but my bones don’t always seem to agree.

Peace on earth… that sounds pretty good about now. And anyway, I miss my sofa… and her… you get used to your own two-legs. Get them properly trained. And the fish will be missing me. And goodness only knows what the hedgehogs and the pigeons have been up to while I’ve been gone!

I suppose you don’t have that problem, working away just the one night every year. But, then, you have such a long way to go that you must turn time inside out to do it… so maybe your night is half a year for us!

Mind you, I’m not the only one wishing…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Book on the Shelves #Non-Fiction The Secret Life of Humans: Reflections on the Good, the Bad and the Painful by Jo Robinson

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A huge thank you to Sally Cronin for sharing my new non-fiction book on her fabulous Christmas Bookstore. I hope it will resonate with many, and even though I’m sure it will make some just a little bit cross I truly believe that it may help some of the very many walking wounded in this world today. Thank you Sally!

Thursday- A Little Personal -October-Ween Book, Blog & Trailer Block Party

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Fiction Favorites

Usually, you see Twiggy and Lucy in action here but this week is a little different. I’m actually going to promote my books (gasp). Now don’t run away cause there is something in it for you. If you leave a comment, you will be entered into a drawing.

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

One of two $5.00 Amazon gift cards and

One of two of my E-books (Your choice).

There will be a total of four winners.

“We are here, Boss.”
“Yeah, Dad. Now go talk about your books.”

Thank you, Ladies.

Here are the books

This is the John Cannon Trilogy. It is a continuing story of John Cannon’s struggles with a terrorist organization whose objective is the destruction of America. You can click on each of the covers for a trailer.

Click cover for the trailer.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven…

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Youtube Virgin No More

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I’m edging back into weekly blogging again and I’m planning on weekly posts rather than daily posts, so here we go with the sticking of the toe into the water to begin with. It has been a very busy six months. After the previous three years of insanity it has been good to finally be able to just get on with working on what I love, breathe a little, and figure out what my new life will be. What I finally figured out is that you never know. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. This year has been filled with all sorts of fabulous projects from editing jobs to illustration and a couple of cover designs. I’ve had to move the publication date for my new non-fiction book, The Secret Life of People further towards the middle of September as work for my clients is always a priority, but the second week in September so far is looking like the time of its arrival into the world. I’m really looking forward to that.

I’ve also managed to load my first Youtube video. I have a few more in the works and will definitely be loading one per week covering my writing life and all things self-publishing. The video editing is a steep learning curve so hopefully my future videos will be a lot more tightly knitted—and with a whole lot less umming. I’m sure that at some point I’m going to get an um or two in the comments. If you want to know how to format a full bleed book for print on demand please check it out on Youtube. If you fancy more writerly videos then please do subscribe—I’ll try to hold back on the umming in future.

Watch this space for the introduction of the third book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series by Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange, where Myrtle meets a gorgeous new friend, and by the way—zoom up to the top of this page if you’re looking for a new book cover design – there’s a sale happening up there.

Gonggong Ahoy

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Between scientists and conspiracy theorists I’m not sure which give scribblers more crazy wonderful character ideas. Although— I challenge any author of science-fiction, who is also diligent in their research of real-life science and theoretical physics, to swear that they have never ever had a tinfoil hat moment. Such as when Google starts popping up conspiracy theories after you innocently ask it something quantum. My television is connected via my internet provider through a little box thing that they supply, which puts me in the very happy situation of being able to watch Youtube videos on my TV from the comfort of my couch with a nice glass of vino. Probably not ideal for a writer of things, vino notwithstanding. Youtube, being just like its daddy Google, will then recommend similar things to your recent views and send you spinning down rabbit holes all over the place, while holding tightly on to your tinfoil protection against the deadly rays being directed at all times, by dark forces, at your noggin.

Sometimes I wonder though. What I’m currently wondering is whether NASA and Co get some sort of thrill out of deliberately taunting innocent conspiracy theorists. Several ancient legends tell of a rogue planet—either a single planet or a system of small planets circling a brown dwarf star—depending on the legend. It has been called all sorts of things—Niburu, Nemesis, Wormwood, the Destroyer, and so on. Nothing about its apparent destined arrival is in any way fabulous. Some have it appearing in the sky with gassy wings. Mostly they say that it is going to do some damage to our world, if not destroy it completely. All agree on its redness though. Modern doomsday planet experts predict pretty much every year that it is sure to appear imminently and either squish us all like bugs or send us into some kind of ice age shortly on the heels of planetwide floods, earthquakes, and other horrible stuff in general.

So when Planet 9 was actually discovered a few years ago there was a whole lot of conspiracy theorist “I Told You So-ing!” Much orbit plotting happened and soon our beloved conspiracy theorists shared their plottings to show a huge elliptical orbit taking thousands of years as Number 9 zoomed way out to the Kuiper Belt before zooming right back to an alarmingly close proximity to Earth. Time frames coincided nicely with everything from Noah’s flood to the destruction of Göbekli Tepe and other strangely amazing constructions of humans in the distant past that we cannot at all reproduce today with all of our cleverness. Explanations were offered of our similarity to Hugh Howey’s characters as post apocalyptic “rememberers”. Apparently this thing zooms by every so often thousand years and sends us down the snake to the bottom of the ladder. While good stuff for science-fiction—Planet 9 is a fabulous part of one of the books in my own series—I gave the idea of being squished no more thought after reading about it a couple of years ago. Then, in the past few days, up popped planet (225088) 2007 (OR) 10, which was found, with its own little moon, beyond Neptune in 2007. I assume that Planet 9 and 2007 (OR) 10 are one and the same potential death star. At least I hope so. Two Destroyers would be a bit much on the universal humour scale.

This planet has remained monikerless until now while its discoverers apparently needed to “research” it a little more. It was originally dubbed Snow White as it glowed white and was assumed to be small, and only something rather large would reflect white from that distance if it was a dark colour. As things turned out it was not small and white after all—it was large, and RED, and in possession of its very own methane. “Checks tinfoil hat” The scientists who discovered it are asking the public to help by choosing one of three available names for the not so newly discovered planet. ONLY these three names are available to choose from. They, and their meanings are:

Gonggong. Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.

What’s that you say?!!!

Holle. Holle is a European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth and women.

Vili. Vili is a Nordic deity who defeated frost giant Ymir and used the body to create the universe.

As for Gonggong—all I can say is please let’s not pick that one. The other two, while seemingly rather boring and innocuous, have too much to do with winter and frost  (read ICE AGE after SQUISHING) for my tin hat liking—not to mention the rebirth bit–which would only be needed after a good squishing after all, so I would like to suggest a slightly sweeter name for that poor innocent planet. Seriously scientist people, couldn’t you just have gone with Rose Red seeing as Snow White turned out to not be white? Luckily Amazon is already aware of the danger and writers have a whole lot more to make real.

International Childrens Book Day

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Today is International Children’s Book Day. It is also Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday. The annual event is sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People and has been celebrated since 1967. Each year a different national section gets to be the international sponsor of the day. An author from that country writes a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator designs a poster for that year. The 2019 sponsor is Lithuania, and both the message and this year’s poster are by author illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius, with the theme for the year being “Books Help Us Slow Down”.

The objective of the day is to share great children’s books, so of course, who but the fabulous Myrtle the Purple Turtle could I share on such a day?

Written by Cynthia Reyes for her daughter Lauren, the first Myrtle book shares the lesson that while people might sometimes appear to be different superficially, we are all just the same. It shares messages of love and friendship and never judging before knowing all you need to know. Illustrating book one was wonderful and terrifying in equal measures for me. I did not want to get it wrong. I am sure I did get quite a lot wrong, but Cynthia and her family were all involved in the birthing of the visual Myrtle into the world, and they were kind and patient as the little purple turtle came to life.

Myrtle is a lovely Turtle. Not an ordinary Turtle. She is Purple and different from other turtles. After being bullied by another turtle, Myrtle tries to become someone else. In the end, Myrtle and her friends help children learn to not be afraid of being different. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a thoroughly engaging story that stresses the importance of self-acceptance and friendship.

Myrtle’s second adventure was much easier, illustration-wise, but I was plagued with life dramas that just kept coming, so it took a lot longer to become reality than it should have done. Once again, the Reyes and Reyes-Grange family astounded me with their patience and care, and Myrtle did indeed get to show a whole bunch of animals that just because you’re a little slow, that does not mean that you can’t succeed at anything that you set your mind to.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle returns with another great adventure! Myrtle and her friends are turned away when they try to join in a game with others. The friends walk away, feeling hurt, but that’s just the start of the story. Find out how Myrtle, Gertie, Hurtle and Snapper solve the problem, in this second picture book about Myrtle the Purple Turtle. A perfect book for children ages 3 to 8 (and adults who like turtles), it follows Myrtle the Purple Turtle — a bestseller, praised by thousands of children and adults, teachers and librarians around the world. 

Now Myrtle has begun her third adventure. There are new creatures around The Big Pond to meet, and a new obstacle to be overcome in this sweet little purple girl’s own inimitable way. This journey will be much quicker to publication than the previous two, so watch this space for more of Myrtle.

An Honest House

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A truly inspirational read indeed!