A tentative return

So, it’s been a while.  If you’re looking at the Pen Poised posts and wondering about the gap, I spent a few years in Germany.  If you want to read blogs from that time, then pop over to “An English Writer in Germany”.

I’ve now returned to Chichester, West Sussex where I’m trying to finally finish my sequel to “And I Shall Be Healed” while studying to qualify as a Legal Executive, working full time and trying to develop my cycling stamina enough to allow me to ride some long distance trails.

So, the book.  Well, obviously I’m very pleased with it.  For now.  Actually, what I’m pleased with is that I’m back on the writing.  The historical concerned is to be done too and I’m reading a fantastic book called “The Third Reich in Power” by Richard J. Evans.  A very readable, comprehensive account.  I would recommend.

Tonight however, I’m off on a bike ride with Chichester City Riders.  My first with them and they’ve increased what is usually a 20 mile ride to 25 miles.  Still, I’m definitely going.  My capitulation in the face of being left alone in the office, in sight of Italian biscuits guarantees the fact.

So now I’m wondering whether to bring back my blog.  I’m told it’s quite the thing for publicising one’s book.  And really, I’m sure you’ll all love to accompany me on every stroke of my pen.  And it is a pen, I only type up afterwards.  Luckily, I’m fast.  Think the typist’s answer to The Flash, (without any floor-washing associations!)

This summer I have a new novel to edit.  And I am intrigued.  It’s an enjoyable job this time around!

Right, that’s it for now.  I’ll think about returning.

 

*** Update***

I’m back early from my first bike ride with the Chichester City Riders.  It was not a good experience.

Now, the only bike I have is a Dutch-style, German bike.  It is heavy and unwieldy but I think I do pretty well with it, keeping up with ease on groups rides with another group.  I was a little nervous of joining the Chichester City Riders because they’re very racing-focussed (they even have their own “colours”).  However, the people active on their Facebook page is very friendly and even states ”

“Whether you’re just getting into cycling or you’re a seasoned racer, Chichester City Riders have rides to suit you.”

Sadly, this is a joke.  And it is a joke at the expense of those people who are “just getting into cycling”.   Encouraged by the above, I thought I would be as welcome here as I am at other clubs. Instead, one of the leaders fell into step as we rode and, rather than explaining that the extended Tuesday ride might be rather tough for a heavy, 3-gear bike, he decided it was a better approach to humiliate me by asking me questions about the ride as though to suggest he thought me as thick as my bike frame. Somehow, he had extended the length of the ride from the 90 minutes described on the Facebook page to 3 hours.  Whether the implication was that this was due to my participation or intended to put me off, this was bullying from a grown man who lacked the courage to be frank.

I’m disappointed, this is NOT a friendly club for those just getting into cycling.  Unless, you’re the sort of person to try out a new hobby only after you’ve spent a month’s salary on a new bike.

This is a racing club that doesn’t want passengers and that’s fine but to claim to “welcome all” and then subject those who don’t have immediate access to lightweight bikes, to humiliation and snobbery just gives the sport a bad name.

A while ago I read a marvellous article at cheap-cycling.co.uk, I never really thought I’d experience it in quite such a naked form.  Here it is for those who haven’t read it: https://cheap-cycling.co.uk/cycling-articles/does-cycling-snobbery-damage-cycling/

 

 

 

 

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About Us

A much better view of the cycling community is here:

Bikes Philosophy

Arthur and Bruno.

Passionate travelers and bicycle lovers.

We know each other since elementary school and our paths crossed many times:
We played together in the same football team and we have also been bitter opponents.

in the last years, for a series of events, we discovered to share the same passion for cycling, that’s why we decided to open this blog in which we promote a healthy and sustainable way of living, traveling and exercising.
Obviously this madness started from a joke!
We were talking about bike culture in The Netherlands and the beauty of their cycle paths so we decided to challenge ourselves to something that we never did before: a short trip from Amsterdam to Utrecht and back via some little towns along the road.
We weren’t really prepared, but 50km a day can be do-able for everyone.
It was a great experience that…

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COVER REVEAL for Song of the Ice Lord

Excellent news – and special offer: get it while you can!

Wandering On Dark Shores....

Dear all:

Having completely failed to have Song up and ready to pre-order anywhere but Smashwords and Amazon.com (pbk only), shall I give you a sneak peek at the cover?

Two points first:

Please note – Song is currently priced at $0.99 / £0.77 but will go up to $2.99 / £whatever is nearest equivalent at the beginning of July. This is because the regulars – the real die-hard fans who wait anxiously for new releases and buy them as soon as they’re out – tend to miss the chance to pick up on the deals, and THAT’s not fair. So here for you regulars is a special release-deal. I’ll update links as it appears on other sites.

Secondly, release date is 21st June, the Summer Solstice. Get it before then if you can, and if you’re on Kindle, put a reminder in your diary…

Right. Admin aside, the…

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Theatre Review: Hero by Laura Bess Jernigan

A warrior saves the world then gives her life for love…or music?

It is a good beginning, a dark, downstairs stairs room in the heart of London. Haunting violin music swoons over the gentler plucking of the guitar as we settle, greeting friends, sipping wine and, in my case, hunting for that rather essential pen. The scene is set; soaring, heart-searing music in gentle dark. Into it, comes a chorus of bright and brash girls. They move well; fluid, synchronised, the music cheers up replacing the mournful milonga with something Celtic, the lights come up and we know something is about to happen. The vocal delivery of the chorus disappoints a little – physically it is very strong but I wanted more presence in the voice to match it. The arrival of the Gypsy Father heralds another beginning as he introduces the central theme of the play – that each choice we make has a cost.
This then, is the prologue, for there is yet another beginning. The resurrection scene where Guide, excellently played by Janet Kumah raises Hero from her injuries into a new – post war – life was well done but could have been more powerful centre-stage. There was a lighting malfunction at that point as much of the scene was performed in the dark which certainly added to the mystery of the scene though not perhaps in quite the way intended. Again Azita Mehdinejad’s violin came into its own, synchronising with the movements of the Guide with the sort of precision we have come to expect from Théâtre Libre Productions.
In production terms, this is a strong piece of work. The actors are all competent and even engaging, Janet Kumah’s Guide is reminiscent of Dante’s Virgil as she chides and encourages her charge. The movement pieces are sharply executed while Mark Lee stands out as the irrepressible and occasionally insufferable Rat. Less successful is the lead. Rebekah Roe’s Hero is ferociously bad tempered throughout and we are never quite sure why. She is a woman in a traditionally male role, objecting to being called a girl because she is a general – a general with a toastie obsession and small grasp of victualling a company. A woman general is a nice touch and could provide fascinating avenues of thematic exploration but the writer chooses not to develop the point and has so Roe has little to work with but stride about the stage shouting, leaving us with the impression that although Hero has just saved the world she is still trapped in a self-conscious imitation of a male warrior confusing aggression for authority. It is a sad day for feminism when a woman can save the world but still feels compelled to lower her voice.
The biggest problem faced by this production was the play itself. That is not to say that the writing was bad, it wasn’t, but the play simply didn’t quite hang together. We are repeatedly told that Hero has saved the world but from what has she saved it? As she progresses on her way home she comes across a number of characters who are aware of the world-threatening battle that has apparently taken place around them but appear untouched by it. The Thirty Years War ended in 1648 and yet its reverberations were felt right up to the moment a consumptive student pulled a trigger in Sarajevo in 1914 leading to a war that still speaks to us a hundred years on. Yet here, the battle that Hero has unexpectedly survived attracts little obvious interest although Hero herself is held up as some kind of celebrity – in itself a point worthy of exploration. Into this state of affairs comes Poet (Thom Short), a musician who pops up like Michael McIntyre making a guest appearance in “Willow”. He gives a likeable performance but strikes as too “modern” for the general feel of the play. There is a lack of chemistry between him and Hero and so their love story, enacted only in dreams, doesn’t ring true though it must be said that Hero’s pre-emptive statement that she doesn’t remember her dreams effectively kills off any change of plausibility. However, the Poet’s set piece, his only violin performance, in which the violin is depicted by a young woman moving in time to the music was excellently done and was one of the highlights of the performance but was it reason enough for the Hero of the world to sacrifice herself? I was not convinced.
Marco Nanetti has excellent presence as the Gypsy Father and yet I have deep reservations about the persistent tendency among writers to represent gypsies as thieves and mystics. It betrays a lack of research in an age where gypsy and Romany culture is more accessible to the gadje than it has ever been – why “Gypsy Father” and not Rom Baro? Gypsies, Romanies and Travellers are a significant ethnic minority throughout Britain and Europe, their dismissal as little more than “picturesques” is outdated and lazy, and all for the sake of a little research.
Overall this play is worth seeing for the quality of the production, the musicians and the dancers are excellent and the actors are all highly capable – none of them gives a weak performance – and the strong direction keeps the whole things moving along at a good pace. However I felt that the play was not quite at performance point, the ending seemed rushed and at times seemed to veer between a philosophical quest poem and a parody of the genre. This writer can write, and there are a number of excellent ideas embedded in the text but would have benefitted from being drawn out and developed.

Hero Cast
Hero Rebekah Roe
Guide Jan Kumah
Rat Mark Lee
Poet Thom Short
Gypsy Father Marco Nanetti
Captain / Sailor / Soldier Barney Hart Dyke
Gypsy Miranda Colmans
Gypsy Dancers Josie-Beth Delamere
Julie Havelund
Soldier 2 Juliet Heap
Musician / Composer Azita Mehdinejad
Musician / Composer Pavel Mezihorak

Hero Crew
Playwright Laura Bess Jernigan
Co-Director Kaitlin Argeaux
Co-Director Jo Bunnell-Thompson
Movement Director Justyna Ziarek
Fight Choreography Glenn Delikan
Lighting Designer Tom Kitney
Set Designer Rachel Ryan
Costume Designer Shoni Wilkinson
Marketing Assistant Natalie Thompson
Composers Simone Walsh & Roi Erez

Keep on writing

Well, the book is selling well. Did I mention I had a book out? No, how careless of me / Yes – where have you been dahr-ling? Oh very well, if you insist: http://www.amazon.co.uk/And-I-Shall-Be-Healed-ebook/dp/B00HHMKQ2G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389621260&sr=8-1&keywords=and+i+shall+be+healed There, don’t every say I don’t give you anything. Obviously, I’m not giving anything here as the book costs £1.88 but you know what I mean.
So, it’s selling well and the reviews are lovely. Want to know the best bit? I don’t know any of the the reviewers! How cool is that? The paperback is in draft form – I still have one set of feedback to come back but hopefully it won’t demand a rewrite. All things being well, the paperback will be out at the end of this month and that’ll be that.
Now I just have to decide whether to publish the play texts I was planning. I had it all planned and now I think, it’s a lot of money, especially if I stick with my plan to use a UK cover designer – more expensive, even without the exchange rate. Ah, well. I shall have to think on.
In other news, the next novel is coming on. “The Lost Son of Ambrose Garfield”, set in the C17th 3-5 years after the execution of Charles Stewart (Charles I if you prefer). Now this is another book that I have been kicking about with for over ten years. It started life as a romance but very quickly took a darker turn. So now we have a witch-hunt and a lynching, a returned soldier whose memory is so much destroyed he doesn’t know that his arrival is a return, and a family who take him in while still waiting for news of one of their own.
Add to this the C17th century fruit trade in Sussex and a picaresque tour of the country over the proceeding twenty years (it’s a dual narrative) and… I have my work cut out.
But in a good way.
The thing about “And I Shall Be Healed” (did I mention it was available from Amazon?) is that I wrote and rewrote it over such a long period of time that I had quite forgotten what hard work a first draft can be. There is something both tiresome and liberating about throwing down words, knowing that you’ll probably have to change every one of them before the book sees a reader never mind a publisher. The purpose now, though, is to get the story staked out. I can take my time in choosing my colours. It’s really quite exciting.
Sartre’s Nausea gave me the first person present tense style that I used in “Healed”. You will be relieved to know, perhaps, that his “The Reprieve” has not done the same thing for “Lost Son”. “The Reprieve” is a fabulous book and I’m enjoying it – now. But for those of you who, like me, tend to lose track of who is saying what in Hilary Mantel’s novels, “The Reprieve” is even worse – it certainly takes some getting used to. However, it is worth the effort.
Tip for the day: never, NEVER write fiction while watching “Sherlock”. It does weird things to your dialogue.
Ah, the grindstone calls!
Anon, good friends.

New book! Last day for freebie

Well, I have been remiss. I published my novel, “And I Shall Be Healed” on Christmas Eve and forgot to put it up on this blog. I have put it on blogs, you understand, just not the one with any, um, followers!

Well here it is then:
UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HHMKQ2G
US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HHMKQ2G
Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00HHMKQ2G

It isn’t vastly expensive when out of promotion, but we all like a bit of free stuff every now and then so today is the day.

I have done so much work on this book that I can’t bear to talk about it any more. I have two more books, a play, a proof-reading course and a law diploma to get to grips with before I go back to work on 6th January 2014 so I’m just going to leave all this with you.

Anon, good friends.

Julia

Happy Post-Christmas – did I mention my book?

Hello!

I am about to dash off and have my hair cut (why?  Oh why?  I get very fond of my long hair the minute I book an appointment with the hairdresser, much like I feel never so healthy as when I have booked to see the doctor) so a vague feeling of obligation towards the principles of marketing have compelled me to sit down in the cold room and write this blog.  When I say cold room I don’t mean Cold Room – there are no hams hanging from hooks in the ceiling or anything like that, it is just a cold room.  It is, alas, also where the computer is kept so here I am. 

Anyway, let’s get grasping.  The best book you’ll ever read* is now available FREE (until Sunday – inclusive) at http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Shall-Be-Healed-ebook/dp/B00HHMKQ2G/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1388133532&sr=8-1&keywords=And+I+Shall+Be+Healed

That’s it, I’ll leave it with you.

 

Enjoy!

 

Anon  good friends.

 

 

 

*you’ll note I used the term “best” there, so this is not an objective claim capable of substantiation, just my opinion and of course it would be my opinion of this book as I wrote it.  Also, book selling brooks no self-deprecation!  😉

The ISBNs Cometh

I suspect, at some point this year, I made the resolution to write this blog more often.  All the guidelines for blogs recommend it and yet I appear, quite unintentionally, to have rebelled from their dictates and fallen silent.

This is really a guilt-blog – the equivalent of petrol station flowers after a row – and so it will not be a long one.

Since I last wrote I have made good progress on the novel, “And I Shall Be Healed”- the rewrites as suggested by my proof-reader are in, we are now on the second round of correction-inputting with a small number of rephrasings / developments going on and I burning awareness that I really ought to mention the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March 1917) at some point.  It is not, as I may have mentioned before, a “war book”.  If you want a detailed account of who wore what, where, why and what they fired at each other, go elsewhere.  The main character, Leo, is assigned to a Sussex Regiment but that is all you get; a Sussex Regiment.  Those more familiar with the subject will spot that his regiment is an amalgamation of various others in terms of his progress from France to Flanders.  I’ve done that quite deliberately to lend a historical / military flavour to the whole but the focus of the book is on Leo himself – as a chaplain he takes no part in the fighting and so the fighting must, necessarily, take a back step.  Still, that doesn’t mean he has to be (or is even able to be) entirely oblivious of certain developments in the war around him, hence my interest in dropping in relevant references where I can.

So, the book is in hand.  As I now spend six hours a day commuting I am robbed of my evenings (and now, I am not going to do detailed correction-work on the train) so it must wait for the weekend.  This weekend is a return to London for the opera.  The Magic Flute this time – last seen at the Marionettentheater in Vienna last year not as “wooden” a performance as you might think haha!  (Sorry)  And this production is set to be good.

What else?  Ah yes, the iphone is no more.  Not only did I find myself checking my e-mail like a think possessed, I also worked out just how much £27 per month was costing me over a 24 month contract (£648).  As I spend most of my days on the computer anyway,  I thought I’d save some money so, at the end of the contract I gave it all up, bought a “non-smart” phone and a sim card, loaded it with a £7.50 “Goodybag” and, three weeks later, am only about 2p into it.  So, hoorah for economy.

That’s it now, must get on.  The book is on course for a January publication (e-book).  The ISBN numbers arrived yesterday, the cover is due in on 1 December, I
simply have to finish the thing and send it off to the typesetter then we’re good to go.  Hoorah again.

However bad I am at keeping up with this blog, you can be sure I’ll get better when the book comes out.  J

Anon, good friends.

En guarde! Forgotten

Welcome to my new followers and apologies to those who have also followed the En guarde! blog.  That blog was abandoned after the initial flurry of posts in December 2011 and, unfortunately as I like the name, I cannot get access to it anymore. 

Anyway, the sharp-eyed among you might have spotted that the basic outline for “The Way Home” by Jay McKeown matches “And I Shall Be Healed” by J. Lee Dean.  They are one and the same; this book has changed it’s name more times than Elizabeth Taylor.  Previous titles include:

 

1. “Purgatory” – from the short story from which the novel originated.  If you ask very nicely I might post it up here.

2. “The First Circle” – I did Dante at university

3. “The Way Home”

4. “Earth’s Vain Shadows” (Abide with me)

5. “Till the Night is Gone” (Lead, Kindly Light)

6. “As I Passed Through” The opening lines of “A Pilgrim’s Progress”.

5. “And I Shall Be Healed”.  I followed Graham Greene’s lead and went back to church.

 

Memorise these; you never know, I may one day be someone’s specialist subject on Mastermind (UK TV show for those not currently in Blighty).

 

That’s it for tonight.  I’ve been kicking my Employment Law Essay around all day.  So far I’ve done the reading but must admit it was probably a mistake to stick “A Draughtsman’s Contract” in the DVD player as “background”.  It is not a background film.  It is never a mistake to watch the film; in fact, if you are not currently in possession of this Peter Greenaway film, go and order it now.  It’s more like a Restoration play than a film.  Not a wine & chocolate affair but it is bloody marvellous.  Anyway, I digress; which has been the problem with the essay.  It’s not 7.30pm and I reckon I’ll be satisfied if I get the introduction done tonight.  As the lady says, “Tomorrow is another day!”

 

Anon good friends.

A little tease

So, I’ve been reading an article on the the Writer Unboxed website which says: “Stop Being Afraid of Posting Your Work Online”.

As it looks like I about to the way of self-publishing wend, I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of the book’s prologue ahead of publication next year. It’s all strictly copyrighted of course but, here goes, hope you enjoy it. The whole book will be available in e-format from about Easter, with hardcopy to be released in time for the WW1 centenary. This is unless the publisher decides to save me from a few months of production editing!

Anon, good friends.

Prologue
(Christmas Eve 1914, Singleton, West Sussex)

“What has happened here tonight must never be spoken of. Do you understand, Leo?”
For a minute I think I have misheard and, still clutching my throat, look up at the doctor in disbelief. My throat is bruised and burning sore and my attempt to protest produces nothing intelligible. My feelings must be apparent, however, for the doctor suddenly leans closer.

“Listen to me, Leo.” He says, as though to a stupid child. “This is very important. You must promise me that you will tell no one what happened here tonight. No one.”
“Stephen almost killed me”. My voice comes at last; it is a relief to hear it, small and shocked as it is. I swallow painfully, still feeling the vicar’s hands at my throat.
“Please Leo.” Stephen’s wife sits beside me and squeezes my hand until I look at her. “If this gets out we will be ruined. He will lose his living; they will lock him up as a madman. We have a child, Leo.”

She turns her pale, shocked face to mine, pleading my silence. The taste of blood in my mouth distracts me. My world has been turned upside down this evening and yet I think it is this that upsets me more than anything else. The still-rational part of my mind reassures me that I must have bitten my tongue but still my stomach contracts with dread.

Somewhere in the room a clock chimes, ten o’clock.
“I must prepare for Midnight Mass.” Taking refuge in routine, I stand up and turn to the door, struggling against the dizziness that sends the room dancing about me.
“You must promise me, Leo.” Forrester catches my arm; stops me from falling, stops me from leaving.
“No one must know what has happened here tonight”
My mind is distracted; I feel the pressure of Forrester’s grip but my thoughts are on the parish church and a dozen other practical considerations. In less than an hour my Christmas congregation will arrive to sing their carols; my parents will be in bed by the time I get home. I must be careful not to disturb them.
“I will have to cancel the early service tomorrow.” My voice echoes somewhere beyond me, addressed to no one in particular. “If…if my voice holds out tonight I could manage the others myself. I…I will say he is ill.”
“I know you will do what’s right, Leo.” Forrester releases my arm and turns towards Eleanor. I look around me; at Eleanor sobbing quietly, at Forrester’s implacable resolve. An hour ago I would have called them friends but now they have closed ranks, shutting me out. Now it is not just my bruised throat that makes it difficult to speak.
“You mean I agree to keep quiet and we all go on as before?”
Forrester nods solemnly. “I know how you must feel, Leo, but Stephen has done a lot for you over the years.”
“He was my friend.” I think of Stephen’s silences, his uncharacteristic irritability, of the war service I turned down, only this week, at his request.”
“You don’t know how I feel.”
“Nothing’s changed.” Eleanor pleads. “He thinks the world of you, Leo, you know that. But he isn’t well; you must have forbearance, forgive this…this…”
“Everything has changed.” The bitterness in my voice strikes me though the sentiment itself is nothing new. “I cannot stay here, I will not.” Defiant now, my eyes linger on each of them in turn; the wife and the brother standing together against me. There is no fighting them. “Nothing can be as it was before…” I swallow the blood in my mouth. “But I will keep your secret.”

© J. Lee Dean 13th August 2013

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