Remembrance Sunday is upon us and like many the world over, I shall observe a moment’s silence to pay my respects to all those who fought and died or fought and were forever changed to preserve a way of life.
But I see an argument springing up over the colour of the poppy we should take as our symbol on this day. Some say we should abandon the red and instead wear white as a sign of peace. I think that misses the point entirely.
On Remembrance Sunday and every day of the year besides, we should take care to remember the horror of war, the death and pointless waste of life it brings. The red poppy was chosen because it grew in the face and in the place of such tragic bloodshed. If we do not take the time to remember the violence, what meaning has observing peace on this day?
I will not abandon this symbol of hope born out of hatred, of life born out of so much heinous bloodshed. Remembrance Sunday is about finding that place in our hearts where all those fallen ancestors and contemporaries now reside. It is about carrying that forward and seeing that we still have not learned the lesson that Flanders’ fields tried to give – that in the face of horror great beauty can emerge.
The beauty of courage, of sacrifice, of sheer humanity at its most fragile and vulnerable point should never be forgotten. The red poppy is not a symbol of war or of violence. It is a symbol of the utmost, laid-bare reality of being human and it needs to stand out, to be worn with pride and honour. We owe that to the fallen, past, present and future. We owe it to them to show as much of that courage and humanity in life as they did in death.
While there is still a fight of any sort, anywhere, we need that symbol to remind us of what we must never allow to happen again. We must never allow fields be so ploughed by bombs and so nourished with blood that they flourish with aptly blood-red blooms again. When there is nothing left in this world that places a single thing under threat, then we can wear a white poppy alongside the red. The sacrifice made to bring about peace must always take equal if not greater precedence to the result in the minds of all humanity.
It’s red for a reason. Remember that whilst remembering how lucky we are that so many laid down their lives in the hope of a better world to come. Bow your head at 11am today and again tomorrow and whisper your gratitude for that lasting memory of hope against hope.
A little flash fiction for your Friday frivols 🙂
I woke up yesterday morning with a bite mark on my neck. Not a tiny mosquito bite, not a flea bite. No, this is a full human-sized bite with a whole lot of teeth. I suppose it could have been the cat, but she has very sharp teeth and would not only have drawn blood but woken me up.
All day I spent trying to figure it out. I mean, the window was open all night but locked in position and no-one could get through without making a hell of a racket. It’s a mystery.
I can’t find anything online about blood disorders or infections, even of the nasty fungal sort that would cause this pattern of bruising. Imagine you’ve bitten an apple and rather than leave puncture marks, you’ve left little bruises. That’s my neck.
So I went to bed deciding not to worry about it, window open just a crack, and drifted off quite happily. I’d probably been asleep about an hour when I woke up with a start. Something was biting my neck! I shrieked and twisted away.
My attacker jumped back looking rather embarrassed. He stood there, in his black cloak with its standing collar and red lining, white frilly shirt, one hand clamped over his mouth. He pointed at something on the bed and I thought he might burst into tears. A set of dentures had dropped to the coverlet as I pulled away.
“They’re jutht temporary until the cuthtom thet ith ready,” he wailed.
JAM May 2013
For a limited time only. Today and tomorrow in fact (10th & 11th April 2013).
The brilliant J.D. Hughes has organised a free download extravaganza on his fantastic novel Northman.
To quote from my own review, Northman is a “tense supernatural thriller steeped in history with some interesting perspectives on life, existence and the meaning of it all.” Even time itself has no power over the Northman. “Hughes writes with intelligence, knowledge and skill to weave a tale that fills many shoes. Decide for yourself whether I mean fits many profiles or makes you that afraid.”
But don’t just take my word for it. Some bites (bytes?) of what others are saying about it:
“The ending is stunning, something I hadn’t predicted at all – isn’t it great when that happens?”
“A delightful work, and I could gladly read it again.”
“The prose reminds me of Ernest Hemingway, John Masters and other writers of the first half of the 20th century, while the explorations of life’s meanings brought to mind Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.”
“A scarily good thriller that deserves a place on your Kindle.”
“If you want to read a good thriller then this is for you! Loved it.”
Yes, he’s a fictional character and one of my own creation, so technically a figment of my imagination, but think he’s my new best friend.
I knew where I was taking things. I knew who would do what. I just didn’t know where the key point would fall. Now, William is a favourite of mine and I was reviewing his thread because I thought there needed to be more of him, and wouldn’t you know but he told me what to do.
Whatever I’ve done in my life, whichever field I was in at the time, I’ve always written. Only recently have I started to share what I write, but I think I’ve explored all of that in past posts. Never, in all the years I’ve spent scribbling away at one thing or another has a character ‘spoken’ to me like William Walker.
Maybe I’ve just never been quite so close to insane before. Maybe it took being broken right down in myself to come back with more clarity. Maybe it’s just time. Whatever the cause, I’m very glad of the effect.
Now, I can almost hear people saying I’m in reality thanking myself, because Walker only exists in my head. But I’m not so sure. When I’m writing, especially writing Walker, I’m quite apart from myself. I don’t know what’s coming next. I certainly don’t know what anyone will say next. I’m nothing but a conduit for the story and if I didn’t know better, I’d say William had tapped me on the shoulder and said “Look, here, this is where you hide the key.”
I’ve heard that other writers have these experiences sometimes and that makes me feel somewhat less inclined to call the doctor. In fact I’ll probably not mention it to him at all. I don’t want the phenomenon to go away. Walker is a good influence, quite clearly, and I’m oh so thankful because now I see the way clearly and nothing can stop me finally finishing this piece.
Inkredible was initially a Max Markham novel, but I think it just became a William Walker novel. And he’s an older guy. There’s room for a thousand prequels in his life and a couple of sequels before he retires. I’m so happy he gave me the answer!
And a very geeky one too. Spent the time building a website and uploading a few short stories. Having done that, I added some more pages to this site and linked the respective pages to the download files. So imagine you’re on an aeroplane and some dolly bird is giving you the safety talk: To your right is a list of pages. Each page gives a taster of a short story. If you like the taster, to read more, click Download. A PDF file opens in a new tab or window, which you can save, print, transfer to your e-reader, make into a place mat for your cat or dog or indeed just read there and then.
I’ve also updated the Short Stories page to make things nice and tidy and consistent. If I could do my housework with a bit of html, I’d be so much happier but then I might lose the bloodthirsty streak and the will to channel my annoyance into writing.
There are some completely new stories there and some that had languished as snippets for far too long.
Killing Phil is brand spanking new, written, umm, the night before last and when told, the victim laughed. He should really be quite worried. That’s him on the cover and I’ve written eight pages about how he’s driving me crazy and I’m going to kill him and bury him under the back yard. But then, if you read it, you’ll see he does a lot of that. Laughing. It’s why I’m going to kill him.
I hope you find something you like among the new uploads. Leave your comments on the pages here or drop me a line. I love to hear what readers think. Even when you laugh when you’re not supposed to. I don’t know where (most of) you live so you don’t need worry that when I snap I make you part of the blood-fest.
There’s a new short trying to write itself in my head right now. It begins with the words “Go to Hell” and was inspired by my neighbour’s kid yesterday. The look on his little face as his mother said “You’ll do as you’re told!” set the typewriter in my brain away, so that’ll be getting an airing shortly, no doubt.
Inkredible is also clicking away in there and I hope to get a lot more written while this nocturnal pattern lasts. I don’t know what it says about me that I write and create so much better at night when all is dark and hidden. Well, I have my suspicions but I’ll keep them under my hat for now. It’s a nice hat. All bright colours. I made it myself one night.
I do so love the night!
The second half of Inkredible is well underway with some 15,000 words or more down. However, there are also adjustments to be made for the sake of correctness and some following this blog who will know that I address them here, know how I do like things to be correct 🙂
There is no correct way to kill someone unless you want to be facetious (which I would never be, cough) and say that making them dead is generally the correct way of going about it. I’m pretty good at making people dead. On paper anyway; never tried it in actuality although there’s time yet. Where I need to adjust things to keep them right is in the police and forensics department.
Creative licence is one thing. Getting it plain wrong is quite another. Now, we’re all used to TV shows that hugely over dramatise and often completely imagine some of this stuff and please don’t think for a minute I’m going to sacrifice gore and horror in the name of technical accuracy. Lord knows there’s a time and a place for accuracy and fiction is fiction. Thing is, I know there are people out there who are just as pernickety if not more so than me. I know there are people out there who would love an opportunity to tell me I’m wrong about something too. You know who you are 🙂 So this is a sort of defensive manoeuvre and as we hear so often, the best offence is a good defence.
So Dr Peter Phelps needs some TLC and the detectives need bringing into line. There’s nothing hugely wrong and it would mostly go unnoticed, but that’s not the point. I wouldn’t knit a garment and leave it with missed stitches or incorrect twists in the cable, and I won’t treat Inkredible any differently.
This is all supported by copious amounts of reading and tying together of ‘oh’ moments when I realise I’ve written something just to get it written and not perhaps given quite enough attention to reality. I’m not starting from the beginning again at this point. No, that would be counterproductive. I’m continuing as I mean to go on and will revisit earlier chapters later on to bring them in line with the later ones. By then I should have an idea of what I want to cut altogether as well, so I’ll incorporate it all into one big sweeping of the decks.
But it is moving forward and with even clearer vision. The dreams were right: it has taken longer than ideally it should have and things did get very much in the way, but it was never forgotten, never abandoned and demands to be written. I feel good about things moving forward and will soon have an actual finished book to blog about. Watch this space 🙂
So, I hit that delightful brick wall that sometimes materialises like a TARDIS in the middle of writing. It’s quite a high wall and you can’t see over the top. You try to chip away, writing a bit here and a bit there but when you read it back over you see it has no effect. It blocked my view of the immediate path. I could see the end though, because it’s at the top of the hill and somewhat distant. What I knew for sure was that I did not by any stretch of the imagination, however vivid and bloodthirsty it might be, want to give up.
I realised what I needed to do was change my perspective. Alter the view-point. Side-step the wall for a time. Did I pack a bag and go on holiday? No. No, I stayed right here with the laptop and thought about how I could take the writing into a different arena. It occurred to me that when I read on the Kindle or from a paperback, I spot every single glitch with ease and see the story unfolding much more easily. With other people’s work at least. Might it work for my own?
Not having a printing press in the attic, it had to be Kindle. A bit of converting to html later and processing into a Kindle book, I was ready to read it as though it was someone else’s work. It took longer than I anticipated. I’m used to reading it one part at a time for edits. Sitting down and reading the first half of my own novel as a single entity was a curious experience and swallowed time voraciously. I used the Kindle to highlight any issues to address at the end and it put quite a smile on my face that there really weren’t any horrible, glaring errors and very few typos. There wasn’t much to highlight and that was a huge relief.
That reading Inkredible swallowed time even for me was no doubt a good thing. It didn’t feel like a chore either, which was definitely a good thing! What reading it through in this way really did for me as the writer though, was open the story up again so I could see that immediate path. Side-stepping the wall put a slightly new perspective on things. I now know exactly what I need to do and it feels right. I’m smiling again and I can feel the intensity of the story burning through my veins on its way to the page.
If you’re hitting walls with your writing, I cannot recommend enough the idea of formatting up what you’ve got, taking it out of the writing field and into the reading, then sitting down and taking the whole thing in as one piece. It’s too easy when you’re writing to lose sight of where you are because you’ve been so entrenched in the process. Approaching it as a reader and not as a writer for a brief time gives you the ability to view your work as a whole and see where it needs to turn next. You don’t have to transfer it to Kindle. You can print it out, view it on a different computer or even in a different room to normal, as long as you’re looking at it in a different light. The relief is tremendous. Try it – it just might help!
Tiny little taster from Inkredible, a snippet from ‘crime’ scene number two:
At the mention of his title Dr Phelps came over. “I don’t know what to think, Jim. The torso is like a bag of soup, but the skull and legs are intact. I’ll know more once we open him up, but I’d say his insides are a pulp. I’ve heard of similar things in accidents, people crushed between or under vehicles, but that’s extremely rare, I’ve never seen one, and how it might happen on a sofa in a first floor flat, I couldn’t begin to guess.”
“Ok doctor. No way the body could have been moved?”
“No way. We’re going to have a hell of a job getting him into a body bag without, well, to put it bluntly, without spilling him everywhere.”
The D.S. grimaced and decided he’d rather be elsewhere when that happened.
If you like a bit of grim and gruesome, Peter Phelps is the man. The plain-speaking blitz-humoured coroner works round the clock to find answers on the rash of gruesome deaths in the city. Even he struggles to deal with shocking things done to the victims coming in to his morgue. He starts to see a pattern emerging and only prays someone puts an end to these horrible deaths and soon.