I was staying in Germany, near Leipzig a few years ago in order to go to a concert in the Thomaskirke. On our way back to the hotel, there was a tremendous thunderstorm. I was inspired to write the following poem.
A lovely day, the sun was warm It had shone on us since dawn. The heat oppressed us all the day, Even as in bed we lay.
We went to Leipzig in the heat. In Thomaskirke we took our seat To hear St John by J.S.Bach. It did not end till after dark.
When we emerged it was in rain. We rushed to find our car again. The thunder rolled across the sky, The lightning flashed, but now we’re dry.
We drove toward Chemnitz and saw O’er Dresden, flashes like the War. Was it ’45 again With bombs falling like the rain?
The lightning flashed, the thunder boomed. We thought that we were surely doomed’ It must at least be Armageddon, Such brightness in a sky so leaden.
The storm went on for several hours Showing nature’s awesome powers And even though it scared us some We were impressed. It struck us dumb.
Buying books written by Independent Authors is a terrific way to show support, and word of mouth is still a powerful way to make sure other people know of an author’s work without spending money. There are tons of ways to do this online.
Review the book on Amazon – Amazon is still a powerhouse and trusted source of content for readers. It’s easy to send a review via email, DM, or to post about the book on Social Media. While I am confident, the writer will appreciate any form of support, reviewing a book on Amazon will undoubtedly give the author more exposure. Amazon is the third-largest search engine with Google first and YouTube second. But then, “if we exclude YouTube as part of Google, Amazon is technically the second largest search engine in the world.” (E-Commerce SEO). Suffice it to say Amazon reviews are a great way to support your favorite author, boost their exposure, and act as a great social proof form. In short, an honest, legitimate Amazon review will help an Indie Author go far. In the words of Michael LeBoeuf, “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
I generally don’t comment on contraversial topics on this blog, but I’m getting a bit annoyed. This post is about Covod-19.
The virus is spread by droplets. These droplets are in the spittal in your mouth, hence, talking, shouting, singing, whistling, coughing and sneezing will all spread these droplets.
The problem as I see it, is that people in general do not have what is known as ‘common sense.’
I was in Lancaster in August when I saw a man wearing a face-mask in the street. He removed it to cough!
One of my neighbours died of Covid-19 early on in the pandemic. He was taken ill just before lockdown. He played in a jazz band, blowing a musical instrument.
People seem to have forgotten all about social distancing except where they have to, like in queues. Yesterday, I stepped into a gate to allow an elderly lady to pass on a footpath of just under 1 metre. She paused to have a few words, and in the meantime, three people passed her. None of them stepped off the footpath, thus coming well within 1 meter of her.
Fewer people are using the hand-sanitizers at the entrance to shops. too. At first, people were queueing up to use them. Now not at all.
People have been crowding onto beaches and in country parks. My nephew who lives in North Wales said that at one point you couldn’t find anywhere to park in Snowdonia. The same in the Lake District.
And at the end of August we walked a bit of the Pennine Way in Derbyshire. This bit, at the beginning of the footpath, was paved with stones of about 3/4 metre wide at the most. The path was busy with people going in both directions. No one moved off this narrow path when passing someone else.
I sympathise with the viewpoint, that locking down is not the best way, and that people should have the consequences explained to them. and would heartily agree if I had confidence that people would have enough sense to just be sensible!
Sadly, though, the evidence is the opposite, and so people have to be told what to do.
And why is it always ‘Granny’ that is mentioned? I’ve never heard the people on the radio talk about how you could be killing Grandpa. Always Granny.
The mistake was made at the very beginning of the pandemic when the virus was likened to ’flu. Yes, ’flu is a coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that Covid-`19 is like ’flu when you get it. In fact, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is called SARS-COV-2. People may remember something about SARS. It was never touted as being ’flu-like.
In fact, Covid-19 is more like pneumonia. Maybe if it had been likened to these two diseases rather than ’flu, people would have been more careful. And Donald Trump saying it’s nothing to be afraid of, just like bad ’flu didn’t help, either.
Saying it was only the elderly and people with underlying health issues who would die was again a mistake. Hence all the young people gathering in restaurants and pubs, and having parties might bnot have been so prevelent. They think they are immune, or that if they get it they won’t be too ill, and certainly won’t die.
OK, my rant about the pandemic has ended. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.
As ebook version of The Stones of Fire and Water is FREE at the moment (for 3 more days, until 8th October) I thought you might like to have a read of part of one of the chapters.
Here is a bit about what has happened already.
Pettic is the best friend of the vanished Crown Prince of Ponderia. He has resolved to enter the 4 planes of existence relating to the 4 elements in order to find the gems that will release his friend.
In Book 1, The Stones of Earth and Air, Pettic found an emerald, the stone of Terra, corresponding to the element of earth, and a diamond, the stone of Aeris, corresponding to air.Now he must enter the worlds of fire and water to find a ruby and a sapphire. Here he enters the world of air and meets one of its denizens
ELEMENTAL WORLDS BOOK 2
As before, a mist rose in front of Pettic and he walked into it with a little more confidence than he had the first time. The mist soon gave way to a view halfway up a mountain. It was night here too.
He looked back but could only see the cliff that he had exited. This was more difficult than the previous journey. There, he exited in a cave and there could be no mistake in the place to return through. Here there was the whole side of a cliff.
He looked around for some landmarks to indicate where he had come out. He spotted a rock just ahead that looked like a dog’s head. That he committed to memory and began to walk down the mountainside.
This was a range of large mountains from what he could see. The moon was full here, too, and lending a silvery light to the scene. He could see a valley below, but not any details. Whether there was a village or town he could not make out. He tripped on a rock he had not noticed. Perhaps he should stay here on the mountain until daylight when he could see better where he was going.
It was not cold here, but there was an unpleasant smell. It was a bit like rotten eggs, he thought. He sat down and Cledo lay down next to him. The smell was not good, but a broken leg would be worse, so he lay down next to his dog to sleep.
He woke to hear the sound of creaking leather. He sat up rubbing his eyes and coughing against the smell. He thought perhaps some people had come up in leather armour and slowly opened his eyes.
What he saw astounded him. In front of him, black scales gleaming in the sun, was an enormous beast. It had two black horns protruding from its head and a mane of leathery fronds around its long neck. Its eyes were green and slit vertically, and on its back, now neatly folded, was a pair of leathery wings. It had been the sound of these wings that had woken him. All the way from its head to the tip of its tail was a double row of spines of varying length, longer on its thorax tapering to small ones at the tip of its tail. The sound of the wings folding away had woken him.
Then the beast spoke. ‘What have we here on my mountain? A little human it would seem.’
‘Yes, I’m a human,’ said Pettic, his voice trembling, but he felt he should say something, ‘but not small by human standards.’
The beast looked startled. ‘You speak dragonish? How come you speak dragonish. Humans have never been able to speak our language before.’ ‘Actually, I’m speaking my own language and we can understand each other because of this magic amulet I’m wearing.’
‘How intriguing. We dragons have magic, but no magic that can do such a thing. What kind of magician are you that can make such a thing?’
‘Actually, I’m not a magician. This was given to me by a magician on my home world.’
‘What do you mean, “your home world”?’
Pettic wondered if he should be talking to this creature. Dragons were mythological creatures on his world, like unicorns and griffins but did not actually exist. There people considered them to be evil beasts. Were these myths based on fact and were dragons evil? If so, perhaps he should not be telling this creature too much.
‘I think I may have fallen and taken a blow to the head. I really don’t know where I am,’ Pettic told the dragon. ‘Please tell me.’
‘You are on the side of my volcano, near the sacrifice stone.’ replied the dragon. ‘This valley and the one beyond are my territory. No one comes here except to sacrifice. Perhaps that’s why you’re here. Are you the sacrifice, or is it this beast with you?’
Pettic gulped. Sacrifice? This creature wanted a sacrifice and thought that he or Cledo were it. How was he going to talk his way out of this one? It would have to be talk because there was no way he and Cledo could fight this creature and win.
‘When I fell,’ he began, ‘the sacrifice must have escaped. I apologise and will go and find it.’
He turned, but the dragon said, ‘Not so fast, human. Do you think I’m stupid? As soon as you get away from the range of my fire, you’ll run and try to return to your people. It will do you no avail, though, because I can fly and toast you from the air. If the other sacrifice has escaped, then you and your dog will have to do instead.’
He reared up on his hind legs and took Pettic in one claw and Cledo in the other, then with a powerful thrust of his hind legs he leaped in the air and flew towards the summit of the mountain.
The air rushed around Pettic as the dragon flew to its lair. Its claws dug into him and he felt he could scarcely breathe. As they flew higher, the sulphurous air grew thicker and that added to his problems. By the time the dragon settled down before a cave high on the side of the volcano, Pettic was coughing and so was Cledo. He could scarcely breathe. The dragon, however, seemed quite at ease.
‘You seem to be having some difficulty,’ the dragon said, making a sound a bit like laughing. ‘It seems your kind can’t tolerate the volcanic gases. Never mind. You won’t be alive for long enough to worry about it. Usually the people kill the sacrifice before I bring them up here. They seem to like to do the blood shedding themselves.’
The huge creature shook its head before continuing. ‘Their priests, or whatever they are, come up here and make a big ceremony of it. They think it will keep me from killing their cattle and sometimes them. It doesn’t, of course. I do what I like.’
Pettic could believe that easily.
The creature continued talking. ‘What they don’t realise is that I don’t need to eat like they do. One large meal will suffice me for quite some time. So I go and steal a few cows, or some of them, they come up here and sacrifice. I take the sacrifice and eat it when I need to, thus I don’t need to raid their cattle. Sometimes I eat the wild animals too. Then they think their sacrifice has appeased me. When I need more food I start again.’
He laughed at the thought of the ease with which he fooled the people.
The idea of the elements was widespread over the Ancient world. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Indians and Japanese all had the idea of four or five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether. Ether, or Spirit was added later. Aristotle could not conceive that the stars were made of the same substances as Earth and decided there must be a fifth, which he called Aether
The idea of minute indivisible ‘pieces’ of the elements going to make up the whole was conceived. The thoughts behind this ‘science’ was more philosophical than truly scientific as experimental science, so well-known to us nowadays, did not exist.
In ancient Greece, Empedocles suggested that the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water joined together to form everything we see around us. Which elements combined, and in what proportions, deemed the nature of the substance formed. This idea was around for 2,000 years.
Even humans were not exempt, and the differing types of character were attributed to these elements, and sickness was considered due to an imbalance in the elements in the body.
Each element was composed of a combination of 4 things, hot, dry, cold and moist. Hot and dry produced Fire, Hot and moist, Air, Cold and dry, Earth, while cold and wet produced Water.
Oddly, the four elements can be thought to align with the four states of matter know to science today Earth (solid) Water (liquid) Air (gas) and Fire (plasma).
When I started writing the story of Pettic, and how he had to rescue his friend, Torren, the Crown Prince of Ponderia, I had to think of where Torren was being kept, and then how Pettic would be able to find him.
This could not be an easy task. I wondered about Torren being imprisoned on another world. That would be hard for Pettic to get to, unless magic were involved. Of course, these two books being Fantasy, Magic could easily be used.
Then again, if Pettic could just ‘snap his fingers’ and magic himself to Torren’s prison, that would be no story. So I figured I had to make it hard for him. Then the idea of a magic portal to the other world came, but that was still too easy. Find the portal, go through and free his friend.
What if Pettic had to find keys in order to get into where Torren was imprisoned? Where would someone hide keys? The kidnapper was a magician, so it would be somewhere magical. Aha! Another plane of existence!
Gradually, the idea of four worlds associated with the four ancient elements came to me. Torren was not imprisoned on one of them, but the keys to his prison were. They could not be regular keys, though.
On this world, magic is used through gemstones, so Pettic had to find the gem associated with world he visited. He got to the worlds through an arch in a stone circle outside the city when the full moon shone through it.
Pettic visited the worlds of Terra (Earth) and Aeris (Air) in the first book. On each world he had to perform a dangerous task in order to find the gem.
Emerald for Earth
and Diamond for Air.
This was how my mind worked in order to get the outline of the story. Then I had to think about what those worlds were like, and what Pettic could do to help them out of a predicament.
If you would like to read about Pettic’s adventures on Terra and Aeris, The ebook version of The Stones of Earth and Air is FREE from tomorrow, October 4th, until Thursday, October 8th.
If you decide to get your copy, I would be grateful if you could post a short, honest review saying if you liked it or not, and why.
Today I welcome Geoff LePard. Geoff has a new book of poetry out today.
Hi, Geoff. I am pleased to have you visit. First, a few questions.
Why do you write?
It’s a bit trite to say because I have to, but there is some truth in that. I guess we writers all discover our urge to write at different times and in different ways. For me, it never occurred to me that it could be a pleasure, until I took a course at Marlborough summer school in 2006. The course was ‘Write a ten minute radio play in a week’. The woman who ran the course was a piece of work—all her lessons were exampled with extracts from her books which she tried to flog us—but she did teach things like show don’t tell, character traits, dialogue and narrative arc. It also became apparent that it was fun to think up stories. That said, it also felt a little like something grown-ups didn’t do. That’s stupid, because there are a great number of great writers who are patently grown-ups as well. However making up things was for kids, right? That was the first of several preconceptions and hang ups I had to overcome, but the biggest one, which I hadn’t realised at the time was my father. Dad was the family poet and writer. If anything creative was called for he produced it. And then he died in March 2005 and a year later I embarked on my writing career. I can’t now see it stopping either.
I’m glad you overcame that idea, Geoff. As you said, making things up is fun.
Why do you write poetry?
Rightly this is a different question. I can write fiction without much effort. I write poetry because something demands I do it. Countless are the times I’ve sat and wanted to write some poetry but I couldn’t. I suppose it’s a form of poet block, but mostly it’s because I need to engage emotionally with the subject. In this book I’m publishing, there are poems based around those written by the great and the good. Ostensibly, there’s no emotional connection but dig deeper and every subject matter…er…matters and that’s because the original mattered. Take ‘If’ Kipling’s famous, if not best poem. I’ve used it to poke fun at the modern obsessions and ended it with a rather simplistic point that, when written, it was all about being a man, whereas being a human, of whatever gender is really at the heart of the issue today. I hope it’s funny but I also want people to understand the message. Poems need to be of their time. Similarly Larkin’s ‘This be the verse’ denigrates parenthood and having children. My take refutes Larkin’s passing the blame for ones ills onto ones parents. It’s something I’ve heard in my family (not my close family, happily) and it grates. So, using his structure and I hope reflecting his humour, I challenge his basic premise, because it’s important to me. In the second half, the sonnets, there are several love poems about those I hold dear, ones about issues such as climate change and the obsession with foreign holidays, etc. Some are just fun—those dealing with sport are a reflection of my own obsessions and reflect, I hope, that my disposition is naturally sunny side up, but some carry an edge, even if wrapped with humour.
Sonnets are a form I’ve not tried. I keep telling myself I should do so.I like your idea of using the poetry of some of the greats as a jumping off point, too,
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere. I have come to realise I am fortunate that ideas fizz and bubble away all the time. I can look around me now, a desk strewn with paper, a tea mug, an unwashed pudding bowl, and come up with a story. I’ve written several books, novels as well as anthologies and each story starts with a simple idea. This probably reflects my writing process. I’m a sort of pantser—no plotting, only that’s not totally true. What is true is that, for every story, I just have a beginning. I have no idea where it will go, just that I like the idea of heading off with the idea and seeing what happens. That’s the seat of the pants bit. But if I think the story has legs and is worth developing, I begin thinking about where it’s going. Eventually I will plot it to an end, usually in my head. I rarely write the ideas down and some brilliant plot twists have been lost that way. Que sera, sera. I do enjoy prompts, though, a word, an idea, a picture. It’s incredible to me how many stories there are hidden in a picture. Sometimes people read my story and look at the picture and think ‘really? how?’ The answer is many and varied but usually it’s based on my determination not to be obvious. A picture of someone weeping tends to trigger lots of stories about this person’s loss and heart ache. I’d prefer to consider it from the point of view of the water molecule in the tear, training for this big moment, practising its cheek sliding, annoyed its been teamed up with some drip who’ll most probably make the tear form a cube, all the while wanting to make its little lachrymose parents proud as it cascades down the cheek to it’s version of nirvana. It’s more interesting after all.
I’m a pantster, too, Geoff. I think it’s more fun than plotting in detail. Where the story is going, I usually know, though, but the twists and turns are often a surprise to me. Hopefully that means they’ll surprise the reader, too.
Thank you for your answers. Now to let people know about your new book.
All of life in one easy couplet
To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.
A bit more about Geoff.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it. Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself? Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015 Smashwords Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
Buster and Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went. Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here. Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
W When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences. Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poerty selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion. Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com
I enjoyed this book. It was a lighthearted and funny read. Having said that, I did not find it as funny as Terry Ravenscroft’s books on growing old—Stairlift to Heaven, Further up the Stairlift etc.
Terry Ravenscroft was the writer for many of Britains favourite comedies, such as Alas Smith and Jones. He also wrote for many of our best-known comedians, too.
The West Yorkshire village of Throgley had absolutely nothing going for it, especially when compared to its illustrious neighbouring villages of Wormhole and Boggett. Then the village was bequeathed funds from a local multi-millionaire to build a public convenience in memory of his name. The lavatories, the Sir Jerrold Wainwright Memorial Public Convenience, immediately known affectionately, and appropriately given its function, as ‘Jerry’s’, was quite magnificent. It was to bring riches to the village beyond its wildest dreams. It also brought, along with the riches, Jerry’s commissionaire ex-Regimental Sergeant Major Horn. At which point things began to go pear-shaped.
As a memorial to Sir Jerrold Wainwright, the public conveniences have been built to resemble the Taj Mahal, on his request.
The story is about how the new commissionaire, ex-Regimental Sergeant Major Horn manages to turn what was a highly successful enterprise into a disaster, The now-prosperous village, thanks to Jerry’s, starts to revert to its original nonentity. Something must be done, but what?
There are some excellent characters in this book, from the ex-Sergeant Major to the chiropracter, who has an interesting sideline. They were all well-drawn and larger than life.
On the whole, it was well-written, but there were a few typos and errors in the text.
A good book for when you want a lighthearted novel. It is easy to read and will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face.