Meet The Character Blog Hop

So I’ve been tagged in  “Meet the Character” Blog Hop by Matthias Williamson. I’ve decided to use the my Short Story: A Good Word which will feature in beaten Tracks Holiday Anthology Boughs of Evergreen.

Let me thank Matthias and introduce to him as well:

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 Matthias Williamson has always had characters in his head. There were times when he was little when he couldn’t go to sleep because there was too much talking going on. He finally stopped one day and started writing what the characters were saying, and stories emerged. Finally, he’s finishing the stories.

 

Matthias story Drum and Bell will also be featuring in the Holiday Anthology and as it’s own stand alone short story. Check out his site and his story.

 

 

 

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Who Is Nasir Mahmood?

Nasir is a young man in his final year of his A Levels looking to apply to a university to study Islamic Politics.

 

Where does A Good Word take place?

A Good Word takes place in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield in the winter of 2001, leading up to both Eid and Christmas of that year. Mainly in and around an Asian Restaurant and a Homeless Soup Kitchen

 

What wont Nasir talk about?

Where he goes in Bradford when he’s supposed to be studying. He’s been going to meetings led by a New Imam who holds intense meetings for young impressionable Muslims. He also doesn’t like to talk about what everyone seems to know, but no-one talks about in his own family…his Uncle Raj

 

What are Nasir’s Goals

His main goal above everything else is to be a good Muslim. His ambition is to be devout and serve his people and his faith in the best way he can.

 

What is the problem?

He doesn’t really know how . He thinks to be a good Muslim is to follow the teachings of the extreme Imam as his family all seem to be too accepting and allowing of westerners and their traditions and lifestyles. He feels none of them are as devout as they should be, but then Mary, a catholic Lesbian  comes into his life and throws everything’s he’s been studying into further turmoil as she starts to teach him about his own faith.

 

To see who else is on the Blog hop look no further than the anthology itself:

debbiemcgowanDebbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, covering life, love, relationships – the whole shazam. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science – tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!

Debbie’s addition to Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology(November 2014) is A Midnight Clear.midnight_clear_boe_533x800-199x300

It’s a cold, desperate December when a young girl flees home, in search of food, shelter and the real Santa Claus. Stranded in George and Josh’s hometown, she discovers that the spirit of Christmas can be found in the most unexpected of places. Includes the story of The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen.

You can find Debbie on any of the following social media sites:

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/writerdebmcg
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
YouTube:  www.youtube.com/deb248211
Tumblr: www.writerdebmcg.tumblr.com
LinkedIn:  www.uk.linkedin.com/in/writerdebmcg
Google+:  www.plus.google.com/+DebbieMcGowan
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/4401329.Debbie_McGowan
Website: www.debbiemcgowan.co.uk

 

 

Ofelia Gränd

 

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish through and through. She is constantly thinking of stories she would love to write. Anything and everything is a source of inspiration that has her lost in thought, staring off into space, in no time at all. Sometimes she turns a street corner, and sees a different world. She is often walking around mumbling to herself and her intended characters. Every so often she is painting mental pictures of their appearances, or wishing that she was better at Photoshop, because she knows exactly what the cover of the story in her mind should look like. Real life, however, interferes all too often, and the stories mostly remains unwritten.

In real life, Ofelia is living with her husband and their three children in a small town on the southwestern Swedish coast. When she isn’t a stay-at-home mom, she is teaching Swedish and Swedish as a second language to teenagers and adults. She has been thinking about teaching English, but since she isn’t fluent in the language, she is sticking to the one she knows well. Therefore, she, more than anyone, is a bit perplexed about why she thought it would be a good idea to try to write in English. But, she’ll probably come to her senses – sometime.OfeliaGrand_FAoUtAoY

Meet Simon: http://ofeliagrand.com/2014/10/05/meet-character/

 

The individual stories of the anthology will be published as ebooks on December 1st 2014. Boughs of Evergreen will be published November 21st 2014.

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1909192899
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1909192910

Beaten Track Shop (Preorder)
Volume One: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/…
Volume Two: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/…

 

 

 

 

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For The Love of Animals

I think it’s quite safe to say I’m an animal lover, mostly dogs as I was raised with them and I think they’re the most wonderful, loyal, loving companion a growing child or a dedicated adult could ever ask for.  If you’ve read any of my novels you’ll see there’s always a dog in there. (Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that dogs have been in the news more and more for attacks etc, but my honest opinion is: you get a bad dog if you have a bad owner.)

Me and Cracker at Hollingworth Lake

Me and Cracker at Hollingworth Lake

I’m not just stuck on dogs though, I love all animals; cats, mice, horses, sheep, elephant, hippos, bear, rhinos. The list goes on; even the bad guys I love, Killer whales and the like (don’t you think you should hear the Imperial March every time they show up on a wildlife documentary?). Animals are marvellous and wondrous and can bring so much to our lives; including broken hearts!

This week two of my friends have had to say goodbye to their beloved pets. Both cats, both old and lived good long lives for cats, years they probably would never have seen as wild or strays. They have both been ill for a while and they’ve had to make that awful decision that we all know is the kindest thing you can do for them, but still it’s awful. We always say the same thing as well don’t we as we wipe away our tears: ‘it’s so silly, it’s only a cat!’ it’s not silly at all and they most definitely were not ‘only a cat’. They were your cat, your pet, your companion. They have been in your lives for fifteen years and they have brought you comfort, love, happiness and probably immense amount of stress, why it’s almost like having a child. In fact I’m terrible for that, as I call myself mum to my little dog ‘come on, come and sit with your mum.’ And she does! I call her my little girl, because she is.

We adore our animals, we find joy and love in their devotion, their loyalty and their quirky, sweet personalities.

Long gone are the days, at least in many societies, that animals were just property and working commodities. We now recognise them as cognitive, conscious creatures with emotions and personalities that bring a whole new dimension to all of our existence.

 

We have taken our understanding of animals to a whole new level; in New York this week a court is deciding if a chimpanzee has human rights; basically they are deciding if they are to be entitled to “legal personhood.” In the case of Tommy, a former circus chimpanzee, NhRP are claiming he has been falsely imprisoned. He lives in a cage in an outbuilding in New York where he is alone, there are no other chimps or animals to share company with him and his only company is a television on the far wall from which he watches cartoons. Their main hope from the outcome is Tommy will be freed to go and live in a Sanctuary in Florida which homes other chimpanzees, mainly former research animals. They are of course not claiming Tommy is Human, but they are saying that as any human, he has rights that include not being locked in a cage in isolation, especially in his case as there has been no crime or wrong doing. People campaign that dangerous criminals shouldn’t be subjected to such conditions, so why should an innocent chimp.

This grows on from what started about century ago, if probably not before when people looked at animals and saw in them something more than ‘a creature’. They looked into their eyes and they saw souls and knew that they were real and they were feeling and they were alive! Soon came along the people who want to put a stop to the travelling circus’s and the captivity of wild animals: Born Free, WWF, DSWT just to name a few. We realise what human beings are doing to living conscious animals and we want to stop it. To stop cosmetic testing on animals, medical testing on animals.

 

It’s a complete contrast to the other side of the world in African countries where monkeys and primates are still hunted as bush meat. Black market poachers are hunting Elephants, Tigers and Rhino’s to extinction for far Eastern demand stemming from ignorant mythical beliefs and demonstrations of wealth.

In Such countries you can go as the typical Western Tourist and enjoy a monkey show or sit with a live tiger or ride an elephant, and trust me as someone who’s been, it’s soul destroying. You don’t see these magnificent creatures enjoying their natural habitat. They are a commodity to be exploited and you find yourself hating yourself for being apart of that industry and paying that money to sit on an elephant while they trudge round a tiny quarry. Then you watch the baby elephants perform and you can see the soreness on their legs where they have clearly been chained before being brought out to perform for you. baby elephants should be with their mother for a long time, not torn away from them to dance for tourists! The monkey show made me cry! Sat still, not even allowed to preen themselves as they do in the wild while tourists sat to have their photo’s taken with them and then made to perform and entertain.

These are intelligent, conscious, cognitive animals and they are wild and they have rights!

I personally believe that religions that still make sacrifices are as barbaric now as we observe ancient cultures were when they gave human sacrifices to the myths of gods and goddesses. Why is the slaughter of a lamb a justified sacrifice in the name of religion? I don’t understand a god that revels in the death and sacrifice of innocent life.

 

At the beginning of the year I turned vegetarian because of all things, Elephants. You may think that’s strange as I’ve never eaten Elephant and as far I’m aware neither has anyone I know. However I watched a documentary on the orphan Elephants left so because of the atrocious poaching industry built on the illegal trade of ivory built on the demand of wealthy easterners, mainly in China, who think they have some sort of right of ownership of this animals parts.

Many people were interviewed and I watched and it broke my heart, then one of the campaigners made a very powerful, to me anyway, statement:

“They don’t need the ivory, it’s not a necessity, they want it, it’s human greed and desire, that is all, animals are being slaughtered because humans want them. Then the same could be said for the meat industry!”

Bam! Like a bat round the head that hit me. I don’t need to eat meat, I ate it because I liked it, because I enjoyed it, because I wanted it. it was a want, a desire not a necessity. I was partaking in the supply and demand of a product that is built on the mass slaughter of animals everyday.

How could I condemn one instance and not the other?

I couldn’t and now I find myself getting angry with ignorant people who make those declarations of “oh I love meat, I couldn’t give it up, just don’t tell me where it came from!” I wonder if women wearing ivory jewellery say the same thing or the men with their expensive, precious ornaments: Just don’t tell me where it came from!

 

I’m not going to condemn all meat eaters and I’m not going to start having a go at farmers either. We had a farm when I was a child and we lost it due to the egg crisis in 1990 and I know how hard farmers work and that most of them are very aware of their animals and treat them well and with respect. It is from these that my wife, who has not gone vegetarian is now buying her meat. Local farm shops where it’s a little pricier, but we know it hasn’t been mass produced under some factory line of poor animals that are just being bred and farmed out in horrific amounts for profit.

I think most people would do the same if they opened their eyes instead of making the statement Just don’t tell me where it came from.

I think most human beings have empathy, compassion and a certain identification with animals. We reach out to animals and young children in ways which we rarely do for our fellow man; it was seen here in England not so long ago when the Manchester Dogs home was deliberately burnt down and the entire country stepped up, in less than twenty-four hours they had raised half a million pounds and the money just kept going up. To date they have raised £1,466,069.22. Because we reacted to the horror and suffering of innocent animals.

 

Do we humanise them too much? Is giving a chimpanzee the legal right of personhood a step too far? Is calling our cats a and dogs babies and giving them their own indoors beds and rights in our homes too far for animals that were domesticized for work. Is attributing Pigs, dolphins, elephants and monkeys with our intelligence a bit extreme? Or is it just that we are finally evolving enough to understand that the imprisonment, forced labour, exertion of our will over a creature less developed than ourselves is exploitative and just plain wrong. Maybe we realise as the creatures that have evolved with intelligence and conscience that the lesser animal aren’t here to serve us, but we are here to protect and serve them. It is our responsibility to look after this planet and all the living animals on it.

Cracker: my little girl

Cracker: my little girl

I believe all animals have the same capability of emotion that we do. I come home from work and my little dog is so happy to see me she tries to wag her tail and her whole goes with it, she is that excited. She runs across the field with me and loves to play. She’s obedient because she wants to be, because she loves me. Many may say we are attributing a human ability and emotion to an animal that is incapable of it, but trust me, she loves me. I look into those gorgeous, sweet brown eyes and I see the soul of a unique, one of a kind creature and I see the love in her eyes for me.

I love her too, as I said, she is my little girl!

 

Am I just a bit over the top? Or am I spot on the money? Maybe I’m not even close? I don’t know; I’m sure all of you will have your own opinions about what animal rights should be and what you believe an animal is and has in regards to personality and soul. But surely we must all agree that we don’t want to leave a planet to our grandchildren where they read about elephants, Rhino’s, Tigers, Orangutans, Whales, and so many other animals as we do about the Dodo. creatures that once were that no longer exist because the viral plague of human beings wiped them from the face of the planet?

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Run Run Run

So just a quick one to let you all know I am still here, I just have so much to do and of course there is not enough hours in the day or days in the week. To top it off I’ve gone and involved myself in more things to take up my time:

I bought a campervan! oh yes, I am to become the travelling scribe. Venturing around Britain with our little dog taking in all this historic country has to offer, and of course I feel I should write about all of it:

The Travelling Scribe

 

I’m also writing a short novella for the Beaten Track Christmas Anthology . Boughs of Evergreen a Holiday Anthology.

Boughs of Evergreen

Boughs of Evergreen

It is to be an anthology of diversity and love, Hope and and overcoming, all focused around the holiday period. I am very excited about being a part of this project and am exploring race, religion and lgbt issues in my story. It’s actually a story I came up with when I was twelve (coughs 20 years ago). I have sat and thought to write it several times, but thanks to the way the world has changed in twenty years, (it really has) the story as evolved from its original, excuse the pun, black and white format. When I came up with it 20 years ago I simply in my 12 year mind called it Prejudice, but that seems to have too much of a negative connotation. So I’m on the look out for a happier, more embracing title. I have three weeks so any ideas throw them at me!

 

I’ve been working on a children video tale, it’s a very early on project so I’m hoping it will come to fruit, but it could end up being one of those things that pans and is never spoken of again. I’m hoping by bringing it up here it will push me to actually achieve something with it, especially as now we have a campervan: it’s based on George The Travelling Troll:

George the travelling Troll

George the travelling Troll

Thanks to my 2 year old niece we have taken to taking him everywhere and snapping shots of him holidaying and exploring, so I feel I Should document his journeys for her and figured why not share it for everyone else as well.

I am still working on my tale I mentioned a few weeks ago based on a script I came up with for the BAFTA writing competition, I feel that actually become this years NaNoWriMo.

 

Finally, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t set myself some crazy physical challenge to get in the way of everything else. In October, just 48 days away, I’ll be running The Great South Run raising money for Cancer Research UK.

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Instead of opening a new Just Giving page for every new challenge I am keeping open the one from May when I completed the Rat race Dirty Weekend. This is of course in memory of my wonderful dad who passed away last year from lung cancer. All and any support is greatly appreciated:

Running for Cancer Research UK:

So Amazing Dads, get to be Amazing Grandads

dad and pip

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A Gay Christian Scientist: Reflection on Vicky Beeching Coming out.

Ok so I know, I’m late to the party on this one, I mean it’s been nearly two weeks right, we’ve all moved on! Although we haven’t because people are still writing about it with a lot of opposing views coming to the table. It’s taken me this long to write not because I’ve been busy or not bothered about it, but because it’s been a constant stream of thought running through my head and mixing up a stream of emotions that surface every now and then and I didn’t want to rush in with a knee jerk reaction.

I’ve written about homosexuality and Christianity before and I always say I’m going to follow it up, and the few people who read this regularly will know I haven’t managed it yet. Not because I get bored or there is nothing to say, but because there is so much to say you could spend your life researching it and just get lost in it all and never come out with an answer.

 

This week I’ve read Vicky’s interview about ten times! I’ve read replies and responses, both positive and negative. Each time I see her response on twitter or in a quote or on Facebook and I’m impressed by her resolve and her strength and her standing as it is in her original interview.

She said that many would and have turned their back on the church but she will not because of her love for God. In response many Christians have come out, however the amount Christians coming out seems small compared to the amount of out gay and lesbians declaring their faith! I guess I’m in the second group…kind of

 

Everyone’s telling a story and I could tell you mine (that might actually make some people stop insisting that my book Judged By Your Peers is my true story: it’s not! But that’s another rant for another time!)

However this is a blog not a novel. Also I did write my own story and then last night saw a comment from Vicky on Facebook saying how hard the last few days had been due to some of the nastier and more derogatory comments having taken their toll. Today I saw some of those comments and it saddened me greatly, but mostly it made me angry.

 

I was raised in a very Christian home, I went to church/fellowship every Sunday, I went to Sunday school, on Tuesdays we went to bible class, on Thursdays were prayer meetings and on Friday evenings I went to the church youth group: Jesus’ Joyful Juniors, or 3J’s as we called it. When I was 12 I spent a week at church camp and at the end of the week I was stood on a grown mans shoulders in Leeds city centre holding a microphone singing this little light of mine and for some reason I was showing a skill of being able to juggle one handed with my other hand. I was not in any of these instances forced or made to go, it was a an option, it was one for my brother and sister as well. They chose not to go, I wanted to go, I honestly did and more to the point I loved every minute of it.

 

Then I hit my teens! I guess my story is not dissimilar but also very different to Vicky’s.

I was 13 when I first realised I felt differently and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

I prayed over and over and over and over to make it go away . I begged and I begged to make it better, my prayers and my pleading went unanswered for years. As I started to realise it was never going to change, I began to change my life. After 12 years, when I was 25, I went back to university and found more of the answers I was looking for in science and that, along with my sexuality caused me to question my faith and what it was I was actually believing in and why I was punishing myself for something that had never seemed to bring me anything but heartache.

 

The night I came out to one of my best friends, I was 26, I was on the floor in the town centre literally sobbing. My whole body was shaking out of control as I just couldn’t think what else to do.  When I woke up in the following morning, a necklace I had worn for about ten years, a little silver cross with my favourite psalm on it was gone. I have never found it! I felt that I had finally opened up and given up trying to change and for it I had been abandoned!

The truth is I got drunk and angry and upset and the chances are that cheap silver chain got caught and snapped and in my drunken state I hadn’t realised. In my head and in my heart, I had been abandoned by the God I had been begging and turning to for years for help.

I went to counselling to try and change, but all that did was make me realise how angry I was.

I was so angry!

 

I have questioned my faith every single day, I have lost a lot of people I love and I have hurt and tortured myself over how I feel coincides with that upbringing. I have stood and questioned how any of it can be real when I see the evidence in science that shows a very different reality, and when I see the suffering and horror around the world. How can this God of love be real when just about everyday we look around us and find barely any evidence for it? All we see is heartache, struggle, suffering and in some, true and real evil.

My answer was really in my family and my Christian family. I was not disowned by anyone in my family, I was not discarded by the church I was raised in. My old pastor and Sunday school teacher have both been wonderful. You see I isolated myself for all those years presuming from what I was reading that these people would interpret the readings as I had and I would be pushed out in the cold. They haven’t or if they did, they don’t anymore and I have been loved and welcomed home.

 

It’s not been an easy road by any means. I’ve had people tell me I can’t be gay and Christian, I’ve also had people tell me I can’t be a scientist and a Christian. I’ve been shouted at in public for holding my wife’s hand and wearing a cross necklace (I bought another one…it was that simple!) We’ve had stares, we’ve been called names and we’ve been shouted at.

 

18 months ago my father died and again I was so angry. My whole family, we had begged and pleaded for him to come through it and recover, for a while we honestly believed he might, but then he was lost and I was furious with God; he never answered my prayers!

At my own fathers funeral I heard two comments from people, not direct to me but I was in earshot, whom I had known within the church, about how they couldn’t come to accept homosexuality in the church, one even snubbed my wife with some sort of righteous indignation…at my fathers funeral!

That is not Christian love, that is arrogance and ignorance! It’s also petty and quite frankly pathetic!

 

Reading the responses to Vicky’s interview, I realise something more now: I’ve not always been angry with God, I’m angry with people and their hateful spiel of my Christianity and faith. I’m angry with these people who use what is supposed to be a word of love and use it to spread hatred and condemn people who might not think or feel or follow the path they do because their minds can’t consider an alternative.

 

Many are insisting that the bible is the word of God and is final and we can’t change it or question it to suit how we feel. Many use Sodom and Gomorrah as examples of how homosexuality is unacceptable by God. However surely that story when read is the example that we can question God.

Abraham pleaded to god for Sodom; God said he would destroy it and Abraham questioned him and asked: what if there are good men in there? God resolved he would save it for good men. Abraham questioned him again and again until he had resolved with God that if there was only ten good men in all the evil God would not destroy Sodom. I think this shows that if we’re not completely content with what has been said in the bible ‘by God’ we can go to him and question it!

I think it’s also ok to be angry with God; we get angry with our parents all the way through our lives for one thing or another, why can’t we be angry with God as our heavenly father once in a while? When my father died I was angry, I was told that’s natural and it’s ok to be angry with God for that. Yet I was told I can’t be angry with God for me being gay because of what God has made natural. There is nothing more in the natural order of things than dying and I was allowed to be angry about that so why I can’t I be angry about something I don’t feel to be completely in the natural order of things? At least not for me.

 

The Bible is a book and it was not written by God; it was written by men, and then interpreted by men and then assembled from hundreds of scriptures by men. It was influenced by culture and by the civilisations and empires that ruled through that history, which is why the original scriptures are in several different ancient languages. It is very much open for interpretation. It is biographical and it is factual for some events that took place: there was a flood in the East in ancient times, there’s evidence of an armies remains under the red sea, there was a comet that went across the sky two thousand years that would’ve been a visible trail in the middle east. The Bible accounts for historical events, but it was still written by men interpreting these events and what they understood God to be saying to them.

 

There were also dinosaurs, Neanderthals, sabre-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, a comet that wiped out nearly all life on earth and there is a universe out there that is much bigger than our little world and there is of course evolution! These things are undeniable and they are not in the bible.

The Bible is not everything, just like any history book you pick up is not the entirety of history. Every text book you pick up for any subject is not the entirety of that subject.

People are forever researching and learning about science, development and also about history and the papers and theologies and understanding of them are constantly changing. It’s ok for that to happen with religion, theology and faith too. There are other scriptures that didn’t make it into the Bible: the apocrypha, the pseudepigrahal and deuterocanonical books are some we’re aware of. The Dead Sea Scrolls weren’t even discovered till 1946 and are of a  lot of historic, religious and linguistic importance to many different faiths.

 

The fact that I say all this has caused a lot of people to ask me the same point Vicky made in her interview. Many who come out turn away from the church and from their faith as they can’t reconcile it. My friends have said: well just stop believing in it if it bothers you that much!

I can’t!

I can sit here and say I have stopped believing in it, and I can use every logical persuasion and scientific reasoning to justify that and back me up. I would however be being to myself in that regards, what I did to myself for many years with regards to my sexuality; I’d be lying. I’d be lying to you and to myself. I can try and convince myself that I don’t believe in it, that I don’t follow it and I don’t feel this way towards God, but I did that already with an important part of my life that it hurt and almost broke me, I’d like to think I’ve learned from that mistake.

As much as I would like to stop believing because it causes a constant internal questioning and conflict, I can’t just make myself stop having faith anymore than I could just stop myself from being Gay, as much I wanted and tried to for a long time.

They are two parts of my very being that I cannot change and are at conflict with one another on many platforms.

 

Not long after my dad died a friend I have known for years said she suddenly realised what was wrong with me all those years.

She said that even when I had seemed at my happiest  there was something behind my eyes that had seemed faded and lost. In the last couple of years, since my coming out, it was gone and I had seemed truly happy. When my father died she said it was back, and she now realised that all that time, from when I was a teenager, I was grieving!

 

There are five stages to grief (generally)

 

1.Denial and Isolation: Oh yes, I definitely did this.

 

  1. Anger: I feel I’ve just rambled about that at length (not sure how much sense it makes)

 

  1. Bargaining – I begged and pleaded and prayed for it to go away and every account I’ve read has been the same.

 

  1. Depression; for most of my late teens and early twenties: it’s exhausting trying not to hate yourself.

 

5 Acceptance: I think I’m there.

I accept that nothing I am really marries well with another part of me, maybe that’s why I write so much, maybe that’s where my weird personality comes form, maybe I’ll be trying to reconcile those parts of my life and forever be questioning.

And maybe, that’s ok!

 

People have used the Bible for centuries to justify hate and segregation against different types of people. Race, religions, creeds, gender, culture and now it’s sexualities turn.

Vicky as a public figure in the church is challenging that on a very open level and I can’t even begin to imagine how scary that is. I found it scary just to do it in my little world.

I’m Gay, I’m a Christian, I’m a Scientist.

It can’t be impossible for that to happen, people can’t say you can’t be all three or two of them, because I am all three and I exist. As do many others and in our little worlds we are standing with her in challenging those stances.

Unfortunately Vicky Beeching will hear hate and judgement and there will be people fighting her all the way. Some days it will hurt and some days it will be too much and she’ll probably want to run away and hide somewhere. She’ll probably get very angry and she’ll get very upset and she’ll wish she’d just kept a very private person and not said anything.

In those times I hope she knows there are so many of us who are not against her, but with her. She is not alone and there are a lot of us who have an amazing admiration for a very brave woman.

 

Yesterday I was blessed to celebrate my first anniversary with my beautiful wife, next year we will convert our civil partnership to a marriage under the UK laws. What would make it perfect would be a blessing or church ceremony, maybe with the strength and convictions of the Vicky Beechings in this world that will one day be possible.

 

I cannot believe that to feel this happy and this loved can in anyway be a sin or be wrong and I truly hope Vicky Beeching finds that happiness, and the love she deserves in her faith, in her church and in her personal life.

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Fabulous Five Blog Hop

OK so I have a confession to make: I don’t have five nominees to proceed me. I tried but trying to get hold of people during holiday season is like trying to find soldiers during leave period: they are scattered to the winds and don’t want to hear about work. I myself am on holiday, but I found myself suckered in and now I sit on the East Coast with my laptop while wife grumbles about missing Pyefleet Week (it’s a sailing thing!) However I am very excited to tell you about what I’m up to as it’s been a while.

Fabulous Five Blog Hop

 

I’ve been invited to answer these questions by Debbie McGowan, author of Contemporary Fiction, Her current work includes the Hiding behind the Couch series.

 

  1. What am I working on?

 

I think it’d be quicker to answer what I’m not working on, however let me tell you about something new. I am working on a script which I started for the Bafta Rocliffe competition, and I am now developing further into a novella as well, called The Blame Lies.

This looks at how the disappearance of a 12 year old girl has affected the friends she grew up with. Her best friend Nicola has spent sixteen years blaming her elder sister Vanessa for the girls disappearance as she was supposed to walk her home the night she vanished, but left her alone for the last two hundred, fateful, yards.

However when the remains are found under a set of swings and the investigagtion opens again we see there is a tangle of tales and heart ache surrounding her disappearance and death and maybe those who were blamed were never really at fault.

 

  1. How does my work differ from others?

It’s a crime story, but it’s not from the point of view of the police, or even the criminal, it’s seen from those left behind. Those who have punished themselves for the little things they did wrong and had their closest and most important relationships affected by the crime, without being the actual victims. It tells how people deal with their guilt and their shame and their secrets for so long after the crime has taken place and how their search for closure goes on and on.

 

  1. Why do I write what I do?

I love crime fiction and I love the old fashioned detective stories, however in those we only ever hear the tales the witnesses, victims and criminals tell the detective and then what they determine themselves. I’m interested in the real point of view, the actual people involved rather than the mystery. I think that’s because my work and my training is in the mystery, and I’m more interested in the people involved. I like to write about peoples emotions and what affect circumstances have on them.

 

  1. How does my writing process work?

 

Well I wake up full of ideas and spend the whole day at work or at chores developing them in my head. This actually usually involves me talking to myself in the dialogue of the characters which I’m certain is going to get committed one of these days.

I then get home and basically free write, even though I have been going over it in my head all day, I very rarely write it down in note form, which I then berate myself for. I have for this story written some notes down, but mainly because it started out as a script and I was in a rush to get it down.

Once I’ve finished I print it out and hand edit it; I hate wasting paper but I find looking at paper a lot easier to sort through than looking at a screen. Once I’ve edited through it, then I’ll send it to my eReader and read it as a story and take notes to see how it reads. It usually goes though my own editing three or four times, I’ll then ask a friend to go through it and see what they think before I send it to my editor/publisher or beta readers.

 

Who’s next on the Blog Hop?

 

Steve McHugh, Yorkshire Born, Southern Residing Author of the very successful Dark Urban Fantasy Series: The Hellequin Chronicles

[ https://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com/%5D

Laura Susan Johnson “Let Your Light Shine” Author of successful M/M conteporary romance novels Crush and Bright.

[http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760057.Laura_Susan_Johnson/blog/]

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Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival: An Experience!

Well hello there, I know it’s been a while! It’s been chaos in the M-Steel house, or more to the point house-move.

I’m not however going to bore you with those details, I’m here because I had a fantastic weekend at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. It was, quite frankly awesome!theakston-crime-300x200

What made it so awesome? Well where do I begin?

Watching the amazingly talented Belinda Bauer win Crime Writer of the Year for her novel Rubbernecker. The first night was this marvellous treat, which was preceeded by the fantastic Lynda LaPlante winning the Outstanding Achievement award, after this a fantastic party to kick the weekend off. Already I was mingling and chatting away which for this shy introverted writer to do is a task, especially seeing as I was driving and hence sober. I did however manage to introduce myself a little and begin to get to know who I was milling among.

 

Friday presented us with a line-up to get anyones murderous juices flowing starting early doors with Denise Mina with an insightful and humorous discussion on not just her books, but inspiration, method and even a touch of poilitics.

A great panel with self published writers followed, a first for the festival in its 12 year history, and we heard some of the greatest success stories, a great boost to authors like myself. Authors like Mel Sheratt who provided great insight into how to make a success of self publishing and how to stay motivated…and a wonderful signed copy of her novel Watching Over You.

The Turning to Crime panel with the amazingly talented Tony Parsons then had us all wetting our appetites before lunch as the writers explained how they came to become to crime Writers from multiple other walks of life; Journalism, Rock and Roll and even stand up comedy…we all eventually falter to a life of crime!

Image from Amazon .co.uk

Image from Amazon .co.uk

A whirl wind of panels taking us  through different angles on how to approach crime writing and other genres to pull into the mix: domestic, comedy, historic, fantasy and of course my favourite: sci-fi. Yes I have obtained myself a copy of Lauren Beukes’, The Shining Girls  no spoilers please!

I found myself incredibly drawn into the Domestic Noir panel and walking away with twenty different ideas for stories to come. Of course we know this isn’t knew, my favourite topic to write about is family; they do after all have the best secrets to hide!

IMG_20140722_214135The Headline act, of course, Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling herself; what a star! She was humble and softly spoken, but very certain about what it was she wanted to say and teased the audience with humour and wit. She was very gracious with her compliments and seemed genuinely very excited about now stepping up as a crime writer, but of course not away from Harry completely. There was the hint of something special to come with Fantastic Beasts.

Of course the best part of the entire few hours she gave us of her time was when she signed my copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling and said she really like my turtle necklace! That is of course, quite simply, because Turtles are cool!

 

Is it over?

 

Of coure not, along comes Saturday and the most hilarious hour I’ve had in a long time as Lynda LaPlante took the stage and had us all nearly falling off our chairs we were laughing so hard. For a woman who writes about dark, terrifying people and the acts they can commit, she is absolutely hilarious and I encourage anyone to go and see her if they get the chance.

Very quickly though she had us all remembering the darker side of what we were all there for; crime writing and explained how she wants to write for the victims. She stated:

“How can you see on one hand, people like Myra Hindley in prison, having rehabilitation, therapy, qualified psychologists.

“The victim’s mother haunted the moors with a bunch of flowers, asking ‘where is my son’s body?’ There was no therapy for her. There are no guitar lessons, nothing.”

The room hushed into silence and there was an angry simmering over us as her words touched everyone in the room. I believe that statement will stick with me for quite some time. Not because it is new to me, I know the horrific story of Hindley and Brady, but because she was able to bring us to almost angry tears from hysterical laughter in an instance with that one statement. She reminded us that although we indulge in the literature, crime is real and when it’s real for you, it’s horrifying, tragic and life changing.

Seriously if you get to see Lynda LaPlante, go, she’s an inspiring, wonderfully funny woman!

Val McDermid then brought us to the attention of The new blood panel and introduced us to some authors just emerging in the crime fiction world and they brought to us their journey’s into the publishing world and their inspirations. Of course most importantly they brought their stories of which I was particularly intrigued with Eva Dolan and her tale of migrant workers here in the UK. I quickly got on the internet and purchased the eBook.

Of course the panel that I was really looking forward to was The New Wave of Forensics, to indulge not just my love of crime fiction but the forensic scientist in me stirring to hear how experts in my chosen field approach crime writing and how they feel the reality of science and investigative work is portrayed in novels today. I was sat next to a great new pal, who just happens to be a former police officer and even in the amazing heat of the weekend we were both alert and eager for the q&a at the end when both of our hands shot into the air.

 

For me the weekend came to a close at 6pm, of course only after the final panel with the marvelous Olivia Colman, fantastic script writer Chris Chibnall, brilliant author Erin Kelly and top of the shop Yorkshire Lass and cracking actress, Jodie Whittaker on the Broadchurch Panel. Of course I got myself a signed copy of that too.

 

So what made this weekend so awesome?

People: people are so friendly and writers all with the same thing in common and a host of readers milling around you openly asking you what your book is about and where they can find a copy. I met a former cop, a current cop, Journalists, agents, actors and actresses, authors, publishers, poets and writers and of course those most important of all people: Readers!

Every single one of them was kind, talkative, funny and genuinely as interested in me and everything going on around us as I was in them. I came away with a sense of accomplishment, though I didn’t write a word. I came away with a sense of camaraderie and new friends.

I also came away with a whole heap of reading in Crime and justice:

A fantastic collection

A fantastic collection

If I would change anything? Book a hotel, forget the driving and stick around when the drinks start flowing!

So that’s me now googling hotels in Harrogate, see you all next year!

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Lotus on Tour!

So I’ve been quiet for a while, as I said last week I was in intense training for the Rat Race Dirty Weekend to raise money for Cancer Research. We did great, all 20 miles and 200 Obstacles in 7 hours 27 minutes (but take two hours off for all the queues!) But I’ll tell you more about that another day.

 

Today I wanted to let you know that I’ve taken Once Upon a Set of Wheels Part 1 Baby Driver on tour with Orangeberry Book Tours!

Slide1

So if you’d like to read a guest post or check out an excerpt or see what other people have thought about the British Crime Thriller, here’s the tour Schedule:

(*) signifies book club review which will be posted by the end of the tour. Please refer to starter kit item #8.

Book Tour Schedule 

13th May  – Twitter View with OB Book Tours

14th May – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

15th May – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces

16th May – Author Interview 1 at Mommy Adventures

17th May – Guest Post 1 at Author’s Friend

18th May – (*1)Book Review & Guest Post 2 at High Class Books

19th May – (*2)Book Review & Excerpt 2 at Book Professor

20th May – (*3)Book Review & Excerpt 4 at The Reading Cat

21st May – Author Interview 2 at Reading Problem

22nd May – Guest Post at Aspiring Book

Find out what makes a crime author think up such things, why setting means everything, how we overcome the procrastination demons and the methods I use to knuckle down. Check out parts of Lotus’ story as she encounters the darkest of the human consciousness and see what turns a lost little girl into a dangerous killer.

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