Front Cover for the novel Honeymoon by artist Lateefa Spiker

I have the artist’s permission to feature one of her pictures for the front cover of Honeymoon, my new, soon to be published novel, a mystery and a love story.

The embroidered silver moon, unravelling piece by piece is a captivating image and so apt for the story of a honeymoon disintegrating under the weight of harsh facts.

Revelations of a murky past threaten to ruin the fledgling marriage when Rosie and Fergal Pierce are on honeymoon on the west coast of Ireland

A raft of characters, living and dead, persuade Rosie to give Fergal a second chance.

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Crawling Through Thorns

 

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I almost didn’t read this book. The title was off putting. It sounded to my prim ears a tad self inflicted, self indulgent.

But what did I know. it is a quote from a Welsh poet Waldo Williams and not as I thought a life style choice… The trials of being homosexual. It is about forgiveness and the lengths needed in order to forgive injustice. Rather than chose bitterness one must do what it takes even crawl through thorns.An image of the First World War comes to mind. Crawling through barbed wire.
I understand the title of this book now and my prejudice and misunderstanding

It was uncomfortable reading too, at first, for a convent girl with a conventional, sheltered upbringing.

Set in Barmouth, a town I have visited most of my life and now live close enough to visit daily should I chose. The experiences of a boy, pretty much the same age, growing up with the realisation of difference was uncomfortable reading.

Growing up a homosexual, with the guilt that engendered with trysts and casual sex hard to reconcile with a ‘normal’ childhood. Perhaps there is a gender difference, too. Sex simply wasn’t on the agenda in the all female household I grew up in.

Memory can be a false friend, but despite being labelled as from a broken home we did well enough. What constitutes an idyllic childhood anyway? Day trips to Barmouth lying on the beach with my sisters in thick jumpers breaking our teeth on sticks of rock from the rock shop. My mother was preparing us for the first of several road trips to the south of France and so the four or five hours drive to and from Wolverhampton, were about right.

I stuck with the book and glad I did. Mostly an absorbing read with some very moving and lovely writing, it is a coming of age story,  the life of John Idris Jones, who happens to have been born a homosexual. Coming to terms with what that means in his community and the wider community makes a compelling read, as he and the wider world find acceptance, including aversion therapy by electric shock treatment as a cure and the dawn of AIDS and that devastation, written from the perspective of a gay man in San Francisco.

There are powerful recommendations to live by to take from the book:
‘kindnesses are for passing on’,  or if of religious bent, ‘God finds us where we are, and ‘The journey is home’, which I take to mean the journey of life is your life, not a stepping stone.

The eulogy for his dead friend is testament to both hero and friend.
Of how many people can it be said we are better people for having known them?

It shows a closeness born of true friendship that not everyone is capable of.

Not a blog post to speak of

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As a list of chores I have done cleaning, cooking, gardening, and tending the Boxer.
An impressive list.
In reality, only the cleaning was impressive. All the rest was a swift and timed half hour or so of wilful neglect.
The cooking merely reheating, the gardening an intense leaf sweep and dig of roots from a very overgrown patch. The sum of the short bursts of digging will I hope add up to a cleared patch large enough to do something with.
As for tending to the Boxer, after a brief sit in our garden in her wheelchair having been lured with the offer of sunshine and our Sunday paper, when in fact the sun had already gone from the front – lately her only access to the garden unless we have it paved all round – to be abandoned while I did the cooking, gardening ( I had already done the cleaning)

Returned to her own snug little home just in time for her carer to actually do the tending….so I could escape home and do the only thing I wanted to do, but had put off all day.
That is to click my fingers over the key board.
Not a blog post to speak of.

Writing! What a business

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The joy of the local word fest, Wrexham Carnival of Words, in its inaugural year, was the mingling,  the bubble of optimism and injection of energy (much needed).

The theme of the event, not literary and ponderous, but business like.

Finally it dawns, writing is all about business.

 A trick of the eye.

Today there are fewer cars; the start of Easter holidays, so that morning rush is absent and all is quiet . A good time to think and to write, to put thoughts in order as they hit the page, to read, flick through the newspaper and instantly forget the news, forget to worry for those in far places whose lives affect ours like butterfly wings.
Instead, to invent lives, imbue characters with joy and problems to surmount.

Soon the visitors will come streaming, a chilly season to camp by the sea.

 We see lambs frolic as if they are in the garden; a trick of the eye, as a wall and a road separate the farmer’s field from ours.

No wind rages, no rain falls, in spite of the forecast, so time in the garden is the order of the morning after all.To work on the latest patch to be laid to lawn , to have seed scattered and checked daily for signs of sprouting. Thus far, this year’s scattering is stubbornly dormant. No sign. Perhaps sewn too early or last year’s seed, or stoney ground.

Either way.
We keep thinking we should move away go somewhere with more life, somewhere that is nearer for family.
Perhaps we should but this oasis becomes our life now.

 

Mortality

Writing daily is a joy, a ritual like yoga that clears the mind. Random thoughts, mere wisps, float like motes. By writing, the motes are somehow fixed. It slows their gentle descent to oblivion. Perhaps that is why writing is an essential.  Ironic that the motes are fixed on something as ephemeral and virtual as a blog and an iPad.

Mortality is very much in focus, not just the funeral of the late Richard 3, a process almost fabulous even including the relationship of Benedict Cumberbatch. I anticipated dying aged sixty. ‘Will you have achieved all you want by then?’  A friend, well past his 60th, asked when I voiced this.

I hadn’t thought in philosophical terms, or in any depth at all.

The Boxer, sometime feature of the blog, is coming up to 94 and this winter survived pneumonia with accompanying dip in kidney function.  She was, as medical parlance has it, ‘off her legs,’ for a while. In fact she was off everything.  Surprising what takes a dip, mobility, digestion, cognition.  The return to health is wonderful to see. She will never be fully on her feet of course, as she counts her laboured steps to the bathroom with the aid of her trusted Zimmer. ‘Only 59,’  She announces as if amazed by her achievement. (Hers is a tiny bungalow, the bathroom at most six strides from her chair in the living room.) Sadly, too she is delightfully vague, unable to account for hours of her day, unable truly to focus her once fearful intellect but intermittently her old self and still loving life.

I’m uncertain what it says of character, this will to achieve, to survive even at 94, or what my assumption that life for me will peter out soon, but would agree it needs contemplating.

As for writing, that too may peter out, but perhaps will be enjoyed whilst it is and I am still here.

 

Goodreads Challenge

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I accepted the Goodreads challenge to estimate the number of books I would read this year. I gave the conservative estimate of twelve, I am in the slow readers, but I’m glad to see I’m half way there and it’s still (just) February.
There is no system to the reading, just what takes my fancy: any book that is currently being reviewed, or has a colourful cover well displayed in a charity shop window and catches my eye, or is on the shelves at home that I’d forgotten but  always meant to read and not got round to.  Whatever.

The reading is usually a delight and provides some new insight or, uncannily, mirrors my current thoughts, or more uncannily still, mirrors my current writing project but expresses it rather better.