Audio book release

Hi. I just received an email saying that Vengeance of a Slave, my historical novel set in Britain at the time of the Romans, has been released as an audiobook. You can get a free 30 day trial of this book if you follow this link for the UK

and this for the US

If you do listen to it, I would be very grateful if you would post a brief review. Reviews are very important to authors and readers alike as there are so many books published it is difficult to know if a book is for you or not.

Guest post from kevin morris, poet.

Today I welcome one of my favourite poets to my blog.

Kevin Morris is a poet who writes both humorous and serious poetry. I will hand over to Kevin now, and he can explain about his poetry much better than I can.

Welcome, Kevin. Please tell us about your poetry.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been a lover of poetry. The first poem I recollect having read is Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43187/the-highwayman. I was (and remain)entranced by the rhythm of the poem and how it matches the beat of the horse’s feet, as the Highwayman approaches the inn:

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding—
         Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door”.

I find good rhyming poetry profoundly beautiful, and much of my own work is written in rhyme. Take, for example my poem “Autumn Fly”, which appears in my forthcoming collection, “Light and Shade: Serious (and Not so Serious) poems”.

Image by FRANCO PATRIZIA from Pixabay

“An autumn fly
Buzzes around my head.
Summer is dead
Yet will not die.
Seasons pass.
We are brittle as glass,
This fly
And I”.

Whilst sitting in my study, in late autumn, a fly began buzzing around my head. This brought to mind the mortality of this tiny insect and also that of man. Hence the above poem was born.

I have many happy memories of strolling through the woods with my grandfather and it was from him that I gained my love of nature. This affection for nature was, I believe encouraged further by my reading of poems such as Keats “Autumn”. Much of my own poetry touches on the theme of nature. Take, for example my poem “Rain”.

Image by AlbiF from Pixabay

“The rain
Patters amongst these leaves.
I listen again
And ascertain
That it’s the breeze
Midst these trees.
Yet it sounds the same
As rain”.

As with “Autumn Fly”, “Rain” came to me naturally as a rhyming poem. I could not have expressed what I wished to convey had I utilised free verse, as rhyme comes naturally to me, whilst other forms of poetic expression do not.

Whilst there exists some wonderful poetry composed in free verse, to me much free verse is poetic prose rather than true poetry. Many poems written in free verse are beautiful. However, for me their beauty resides in their poetic prose, they are not, in my opinion poetry as I understand it (I.E. with real rhyme and metre).

One can not always be serious, and section 2 of “Light and Shade” is devoted to my humorous verses. Take, for example my poem “Jane’s Sad Refrain”:

“A young lady named Jane
Sang a most mournful refrain.
I could repeat her song,
As it wouldn’t take long,
But it’s copyright of Jane!”

To conclude. Poetry is, for me about rhyme and its rhyme with which I feel most comfortable. There is, as I said, some wonderful free verse poetry out there. However, for me at least much of this (but by no means all) is poetic prose rather than poetry proper.

(“Light and Shade: Serious (and Not so Serious) Poems”, by Kevin Morris will be available in the Amazon Kindle store, and as a paperback in July 2020).

Links:

Blog: https://kmorrispoet.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewdog2060_
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morris

Thank you, Kevin, for telling us more about your poetry. I agree with you about free verse. It’s something I’ve thought for a long time. I have written poetry that doesn’t rhyme, but it always has rhythm. And I love the poem about Jane!

I would encourage everyone to search out your poetry books and to visit your blog.

Good luck with this latest one. I look forward to its publication.

If you have any comments to either myself, or Kevin, please enter them in the comments box. Feel free to reblog this.

the Stones of fire and water is free.

After finding the gems associated with the worlds of Earth and Air, Pettic needs to enter the final two Elemental Worlds to find the gems of Fire and Water.

In these two worlds, as before, he has to preform a task to help the inhabitants before the jewel will reveal its whereabouts.

But when he has found these gems, how can he rescue his friend, the Crown Prince of Ponderia? First, though, he needs to find the two missing gems.

In Ignis, the land of fire, he finds the magical creatures are having fewer and fewer offspring. Can he help them and find out the cause? And what can he do about it?

In Aqua, the land of water, he meets merfolk who have a problem. Their leader is dying because his magic staff has been stolen. Can Pettic find this staff and the culprit before it is too late?

I am pleased to say that the same narrator who narrated the audio version of The Stones of Earth and Air has agreed to narrate this book, too. He has finished the narration, and it is now with the publisher. I hope it won’t be too long before it’s available.

In the meantime, for those of you who can’t wait, the ebook version of The Stones of Fire and Water is FREE on Amazon from tomorrow (14th June) until Thursday 18th June.

Click on the link now, before you forget or you’ll miss this opportunity.
You can get your book by clicking on the title, or the cover in the sidebar or the text.. This will take you to Amazon where you are.

I am always pleased to hear your comments. Add them in the comments box.

Some alternative words to use for the senses

Image by Neofir72 from Pixabay

We are often told, as writers, that we should try to use all the senses in order to bring our stories to life. We have 5 senses (although some people say there is a 6th, and some stories deal with it, including some of my own) and it’s a good idea to change the word to describe the way the character experiences the sense.

We could say ‘He saw the dragon descending to its lair.’ But we could make it stronger by using a different word (or phrase). ‘He became aware of the dragon descending to its lair.’

In the above picture, we would be able to smell the vegetation, hear the birds singing and the rippling water. We see the green of the plants and the brownish colour of the water. We could dabble our feet in the water and feel the coolness, or the grass under our feet when we get out.

I’m not sure about taste, here, but if we know what we are doing, we could taste some of the plants. I know I’ve done so when I was young. the sweet taste of blades of grass when chewed or the nectar in the base of clover florets.

Here are some ideas you could use instead.

Image by Sofie Zbořilová from Pixabay

Sight:

become aware of, detect, discern, distinguish, give the impression of, identify, look, look like, note, notice, observe, perceive, realize, recognize, reveal, seem, sense, sight, spot, watch

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Smell:

scent, sniff, inhale, detect,

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Hearing:

catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to,

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Touch:

feel, handle, stroke, caress, fondle, paw, grope, rub, run fingers over, run hands over.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Taste:

savour, sip, nibble, sample, try, lick

Do you use all the senses when you describe a scene? It certainly brings it to life.

Please leave a comment in the comments box.

Cavendish, Suffolk in oils on board.

I’ve decided not to go any further with Carthinal’s tale at this time. I’ve submitted it to the publisher, and I don’t think they’ll be very pleased to have the complete novella available on the net. It will be some time before it is published, though, as they have another novella of mine in the pipeline.


I am also working on a third. This one is the story of Asphodel. I did originally publish it here, but there are significant changes to it, and so I don’t think that what is here is really comparable.
So I will have to re-think what I am posting on the first Tuesday of the month.


To be going on with, here’s one of my paintings.

This is Cavendish, in Suffolk. Many of the houses in that part of the world are painted in pastel shades. This village has a large village green and the houses portrayed in this picture are alms houses.

I lived not far from this pretty village in the ’80s and we often passed through it on our way to the coast.

If you liked this painting, please feel free to reblog. But acknowledge me when you do, please.

What do you think of my painting? Let me know in the comments box.

making bread

Bread Making

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Before Covid-19 took over our lives and made it difficult to go out, except for essentials, few people made their own bread. I have always made it from time to time. I find it therapeutic, and the bread tastes so much better than the shop-bought stuff.

Hand-made is better than bread machine, too, in my opinion. I somehow feel that in a bread machine, it’s not really made by me. I stick in the ingredients and leave the machine to do the work.

However, when the lockdown came, everyone seemed to decide that this was the time to make their own bread (and cakes, probably biscuits, pies and everything else that needed flour). Flour vanished from the shelves, as did yeast, so I was stuck.

Amazon came to the rescue, however, and I got bread flour and yeast. (Both from the UK) I could only buy 16kg flour, so that’s a lot of loaves! I also bought some bread improver, too.

So we set off to make bread. We decided to experiment and wrote what we thought of each experiment.

First of all, I would like to mention the yeast. Of course, you can use fresh bakers’ yeast if you can get it. (I got some from Morrison’s before all this lockdown stuff kicked off.)

The problem with fresh yeast is that you need to use it fairly quickly as it only keeps 2 weeks maximum in a refrigerator.

Also, be careful when using dried yeast. Some is ‘quick’ or ‘fast-acting’ and some isn’t. If you have the fast-actingtype, you can simply sprinkle it on your flour and mix well in. For the other, non-quick, you need to activate it first in some warm water taken from the total amount you are going to use. If you like, you can add some sugar to help it get going, but not too much.

Here is my final recipe:

Image by hadevora from Pixabay

Ingredients:

500g strong bread flour
350ml warm water (about 30C)
2 teaspoons sugar
7g dried yeast (activated if necessary with ½ teaspoon sugar)
5g bread improver (optional)
2 teaspoons salt.

Method.

  1. Put the yeast into a cup and add ½ teaspoon from the sugar. Pour in about 50ml of warm (30C) water from the 350ml and stir with a fork. Put to one side and leave for around 10-15 minutes, or until it’s bubbling and frothy.
  2. Carefully weigh the flour and put it into a large basin. Add the bread improver (if used) salt and the remaining sugar. Mix thoroughly together.
  3. When the yeast is nice and frothy, pour it into the flour. Use a little of the warm water to make sure it’s all out of the cup, then add the rest of the water.
  4. Mix until it comes together and makes a fairly sticky dough. Turn it out onto your work surface WITHOUT adding flour. If you put flour on your work surface, it will make your carefully weight amounts wrong.
  5. Knead the dough. I used a technique from Richard Bertinet who is a professional baker. You can watch a video of how he kneads bread on YouTube.
  6. When the dough is elastic, dust a large bowl, put the dough in and cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave in a fairly warm place for at least an hour. The length of time will depend on the warmth of the room. Wait until it has doubled in size.
  7. Shape the dough and make rolls, round loaves, long rolls, or put it into a tin. Cover again with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size once again. The longer you leave it at this stage, the lighter your loaves will be. The yeast will produce more carbon dioxide and thus more holes.
  8. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature (ideally around 250C). I heated mine to 230C which is as high as it will go. Heat for at least 30 minutes. I used a baking stone, already in the oven, but you can use an upturned baking tray, heated in the oven for the half hour.
  9. I used a wooden slider thingy to get the bread off the tray it had proved on, but you can use whatever you have. Be very careful not to handle it as it will quickly collapse. Slide it onto your stone or tray and shut the oven door. I allowed it to cook for 10 minutes at the highest temperature then turned it down 20C as the first ones I made were slightly burned on the crust.
    Cooking time will depend on what you’ve made. Rolls will take around 15-20 minutes, but a large loaf can take up to 45 minutes.
    When cooked, the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

You can get the ebook version of my first recipe book, Viv’s Family Recipes FREE from today until June 2nd. I have an interest in history as well as cooking and this book has recipes from the early part of the 20th Century until now. It is interesting to see how our tastes have changed during that time.

I’ve been wondering whether to publish another recipe book. This time it would be a yeast cookery book, I think. What do you think of that idea?

Let me know in the comments box.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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