Thrillers




Fiction with an edge




Saturday, 15 December 2012

FREE DOWNLOAD - THE MESSENGER - 500 Page thriller

For those of you who may have missed it last time THE MESSENGER http://goo.gl/Q3INE is available on FREE DOWNLOAD on Kindle today (15th), Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  A 500 page explosive mixture  of Enemy of the State and Sixth Sense.  You can read the first six chapters and the story behind the story on my blog pages (see right).  

REVIEWS:
The Messenger is a full on thriller with a mysterious twist. And while military novels are not my usual fare, I got on board with Jack Chandler when he entered the Land of Souls. John E. White skilfully weaves the two worlds together in the way Stephen King does, but without the fantasy tag. Amid tense Harrison Ford style action is the deeper `what does happen to war dead?' Tight, thought-provoking and a great read. You won't think the same about war again.

A thrilling read
By 
A great read with a great message skilfully handled. The suggestion of a sixth sense but leaving the reader to interpret that in their own way made it intriguing for me.


PACEY THRILLER WITH A POIGNANT POLITICAL MESSAGE 
John's novel has all the ingredients one would expect in an adventure story - a well researched and developed plot, believable characters in reader friendly and accessible prose. It's also pacey containing exciting action scenes within a contemporary and highly relevant political and historical setting.

This is not all however, in a layered narrative, The Messenger fuses the genres of thriller, adventure and the supernatural to excellent effect. This novel is a thoughtful critique of politics, economics and war.
By jaycole
'The Messenger' works on more than one level. As an exciting story with believable characters it carries you along in the way you expect from writers like Lee Child and Matt Hilton. And the military scenes, while not full-on Andy McNab, are pumping with action and well-researched authenticity. But it's the third dimension that makes this book stand out. Lots of people (probably lots of soldiers) who have had near-death experiences will be intrigued by Jack Chandler's visions and doubts. PTSD, paranoia, brain-washing? Or something else? Read it and make up your own mind.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Victory ... winning small battles leads to winning wars.

So, it looks like the public have spoken and Starbucks are going to start paying the tax they had tried so hard to avoid. Whether these payments will be of the order that will put the company back on a good PR footing with the general public remains to be seen. Interestingly, it was not just Starbucks who were playing the avoidance game. Amazon and Google http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20288077 ) have also been enjoying the fruits of their tax accountants hard work.  The point here is that, if the public vote with their feet, they can achieve anything. Now - how long will it be before the hard pressed citizens rise up and tell Government it must deal with the Starbucks, Amazons and Googles of this world before it hits the easiest and softest of all tax targets - the average man and woman - who have no choice but to pay tax and who, because Starbucks, Amazon and Google do not pay their moral fair share are being sunk by debt. Remember folks, if the boys and girls at the top paid their whack then the people at the bottom wouldn't be taxed to the degree they are. 

As an illustration of a girl at the top who takes her moral contribution seriously - I give you probably the most famous of writers, after Shakespeare - J K Rowling ( http://www.businessinsider.com/jk-rowling-on-high-taxes-2012-9 )  and from the article concerned I note the following:  

It is with this as a backdrop that it's worth recalling why the richest woman in the UK, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, says she remains a citizen of Great Britain even though she's now a billionaire.
The bottom line?
Rowling loves her country, and she wants her kids to grow up there. And, as someone who once depended on the safety net designed to help those going through hard times, she feels a debt to her society.
I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.
A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug

Sunday, 21 October 2012

STARBUCKS - grounds for avoidance?

I have enjoyed a Starbucks coffee in Singapore, in cities in the US and here the UK. I even wrote to the company when Drake Circus (mall) was being built in Plymouth and suggested that the company ought to consider opening a shop there. Their response that Plymouth was not on their agenda disappointed me, but, a couple of years later, when Drake Circus was finished they had changed their mind and, now, Plymouth has two Starbucks cafes. I used to tell friends to drink there - that the mocha was good. I suppose you could say I was a Starbucks man.

So, maybe you can imagine my embarrassment and anger when I read that in its 14 years in the UK, on sales of £3 billion, Starbucks has paid Corporation Tax to the tune of just £8.6 million up until three years ago - and, during that last three years, nothing. Apparently, it is not Tax evasion as that would be illegal. It is Tax avoidance - and whilst that, sadly, is legal, in this day and age of austerity when the average man and woman is being squeezed until the pips squeak to repay the Government's deficit, I believe it's morally repugnant. That average man and woman has no choice about whether or not he or she  pays tax - it is a burden that is visited upon them in the same certain way as old age. However, we should remember that the more companies like Starbucks avoid paying tax, the more that average man and woman have to make up their shortfall. I am not naive enough to think that Starbucks is the only company to have tax accountants expert in the field of tax avoidance - which is why I believe that those companies who don't pay their share should be identified - as they are effectively thumbing their noses at us, their customers. Once we know who they are, then we can decide whether we want to give them our business (our cash) or whether we want to give it to a company who is contributing to the British economy (like Costa coffee) - because those companies help to reduce our tax burden.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

It's worth persevering folks!

Check this out: http://goo.gl/keJwU 

In 2007 I complained to the Advertising Standards Agency and Press Complaints Commission about a company called Churchcastle and its wordsearch competitions in the Daily Mirror (and other newspapers / magazines). I felt these competitions were fleecing the public, by getting them to use premium rate phone lines to claim their (cheap) jewellery prizes and give away their private details (to be sold on to whoever?). As one would expect the PCC didn't want to know and the ASA said I was the only one complaining about it and they didn't want to take up the complaint. I kept at it and finally, last year, the ASA did take on the case. Today I see in the Daily Mirror (Penman & Sommerlad Investigate pages 24/25 - see above link) that Churchcastle has been fined £800,000. So, folks, it's worth persevering when you see injustice. It's a pity the newspapers, who obviously put advertising revenue above the protection of their readers, don't have to apologise to those readers for allowing the competition onto their pages. In additon, those newspapers / magazines who carried the competition, in my view, were complicit in this and should compensate their readers - mostly elderly I gather, who were scammed.

Interestingly I wrote this on my previous blog 'I really should be writing' back on Oct 20th 2008:
Churchcastle Ltd (trading as Spencer and Mayfair 2007) have a full page advert in today's copy of the Daily Mirror (page 47) suggesting that people can solve a word puzzle and 'claim' a 'stunning emerald pendant' - however, what it places in print (around font size 6, I guess) at the bottom of the page is that the call to claim one's stunning emerald pendent lasts 3 minutes and 30 seconds (at £1.50 per minute on BT landline - god knows what it would be from a mobile) at the end of that call you will be asked if you wish to transfer to another phone line to receive a 'matching bracelet' - if one does that then the call will last 3minutes (again at £1.50 per minute). So, 6mins 30 secs at £1.50 per min = £9.75! Well at least Churchcastle have dropped the heading of 'Do you qualify for a genuine emerald pendant', which they used in two previous adverts for the same thing last year. Some interesting links - I'm assuming here that the Churchcastle Ltd mentioned is the Churchcastle Ltd of the above - fair assumption?ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Churchcastle Ltd t/a UK Cash Rewards The Office of Fair Trading: Prize promoter gives undertakings to High Court This is a really interesting link - it was actually published in the Daily Mirror in 2002 They cash in on trash - Investigations  Maybe the Daily Mirror doesn't look at its back copies.

Friday, 21 September 2012

CIRCLE OF DECEIT - FREE DOWNLOAD - 22nd to 26th SEPTEMBER


CIRCLE OF DECEIT  http://goo.gl/YbL0J

Three months ago Harry Miller decided to leave a lucrative directorship in business to write children’s stories. His wife, Veronica, isn't pleased - she misses the high life and nags him to go back. But Harry can't go back – and he can't tell her why. Veronica's efforts to get him to return to business open a Pandora's box of lies and recriminations which have Harry questioning his friends, his marriage, and his future.

“The truth will out ...”


55 page novelette

Saturday, 15 September 2012

FREE DOWNLOAD - THE MESSENGER - SATURDAY 15th, SUNDAY AND MONDAY

For those of you who may have missed it last time THE MESSENGER http://goo.gl/Q3INE is available on FREE DOWNLOAD on Kindle today (15th), Sunday and Monday.  A 500 page explosive mixture  of Enemy of the State and Sixth Sense.  You can read the first six chapters and the story behind the story on my blog pages (see right).  

REVIEWS:
The Messenger is a full on thriller with a mysterious twist. And while military novels are not my usual fare, I got on board with Jack Chandler when he entered the Land of Souls. John E. White skilfully weaves the two worlds together in the way Stephen King does, but without the fantasy tag. Amid tense Harrison Ford style action is the deeper `what does happen to war dead?' Tight, thought-provoking and a great read. You won't think the same about war again.

A thrilling read
By 
A great read with a great message skilfully handled. The suggestion of a sixth sense but leaving the reader to interpret that in their own way made it intriguing for me.


PACEY THRILLER WITH A POIGNANT POLITICAL MESSAGE 
John's novel has all the ingredients one would expect in an adventure story - a well researched and developed plot, believable characters in reader friendly and accessible prose. It's also pacey containing exciting action scenes within a contemporary and highly relevant political and historical setting.

This is not all however, in a layered narrative, The Messenger fuses the genres of thriller, adventure and the supernatural to excellent effect. This novel is a thoughtful critique of politics, economics and war.
By jaycole
John White's intriguing anti-war thriller 'The Messenger' works on more than one level. As an exciting story with believable characters it carries you along in the way you expect from writers like Lee Child and Matt Hilton. And the military scenes, while not full-on Andy McNab, are pumping with action and well-researched authenticity. But it's the third dimension that makes this book stand out. Lots of people (probably lots of soldiers) who have had near-death experiences will be intrigued by Jack Chandler's visions and doubts. PTSD, paranoia, brain-washing? Or something else? Read it and make up your own mind.
 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Plymouth International Book Festival 15 - 23 September 2012

http://goo.gl/hWyZI




Saturday 15th September

Writer-In-Residence/Word Marathon: Writing the Museum’s Stories

During the week of Plymouth International Book Festival there will be a number of opportunities to work with the Writer-In-Residence at Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery. The public are invited to come into the museum and have a go at writing a Haiku poem in response to the Endless Summer surfing exhibition and they can also drop in and have a go at writing a Haiku in response to museum objects that will be on show in the Plymouth University Marquee on the Hoe on 16 September. 


Drop-in Haiku workshop 10am - 12pm

  • Saturday 15 September
  • Tuesday 18 September
  • Thursday 20 September
Plymouth Artists book fair logo

10am

Plymouth Artist's Book Fair


Plymouth University brings together an international selection of people working with 'the book' as an art project. Exhibitors will include individual artists as well as small independent publishers, all of whom will have a selection of books to peruse and buy.


Helen Dunmore

2–3pm

Helen Dunmore: Writing Magical Words


The award-winning creator of the fantastic Ingo series talks about creating wonder and magic with words. A great event for the whole family where you'll have a chance to meet Helen and ask her about her wonderful work.


Babette Cole

3:15–4:15pm

Babette Cole


Having first started as an illustrator for children's television, Babette Cole has been publishing children's books since 1976. She joins us to give an insight about how she creates her work, and the highly competitive world of children's writing and illustration.


Making Great Illustration

4:30–5:30pm

Making Great Illustration


Derek Brazell and Jo Davies, authors of Making Great Illustration and curators of the same exhibition are in conversation. They discuss the Illustrator's world and the unique collection of works on display in the festival exhibition. A gem for fans of all kinds of illustration.


Audrey Niffenegger

6–7pm

Audrey Niffenegger


From Chicago, Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife, tells us about her work as a visual artist and writer. Her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, is a ghost story set in and around Highgate Cemetery.

 


Sunday 16th September


Patrick Gale

2–3pm

Patrick Gale: A Perfectly Good Man


Patrick Gale's 14 novels include The Whole Day Through and the Richard & Judy bestseller, Notes From an Exhibition. He joins us to talk about his latest novel, A Perfectly Good Man.


Moby Dick Big Read

3:15–4:15pm

Moby Dick Big Read


Launch event of the hugely anticipated 21st-Century audio and visual rendition of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick featuring a live reading by our guest of honour, actor and director Simon Callow.

The daily online release of chapters recorded by a host of international and national celebrities including, Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton will launch on Monday 17 September. The audio will be accompanied by images from some of the biggest names in the contemporary art world, including Gavin Turk, Anish Kapoor and Susan Hiller.

There will be an introduction from author, Philip Hoare, a musical performance entitled Call Me Ishmael, by Sam Richards and the premiere of a short film featuring international, best-selling, kraken-tattooed novelist China MiĆ©ville reading extracts from ‘The Squid’, directed by the award-winning BBC director, Adam Low.


Etherington Brothers

4:30–6pm

Celebrating Young People's Writing


Join us in the Marquee overlooking the stunning Plymouth Hoe for a rip-roaring celebration for, and by, young people. The Etherington Brothers will keep 7–12 year olds busily enthralled, Babette Cole will help us to crown the new Young City Laureate and we'll have a few surprise guests and book launches along the way. Free Event (booking essential).

 


Monday 17th September

Eduardo Miranda

5–6pm

Professor Eduardo Reck Miranda


Eduardo Miranda introduces Sound to Sea, his major new work that revisits the magnificent British choral tradition, through a myriad of different cultural references including the literary works of Horace, Shakespeare and Mark Twain and the music of Elgar, Mozart, Messiaen and Stravinsky.

Tania Hershman

6:30–7:30pm

Tania Hershman: How short can a short story get?


Tania Hershman joins us to read from her second collection of short stories My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions. She'll also talk to us about the short story and even shorter 'flash' fiction, and her work with The Short Review, an online journal.


 

Tuesday 18th September
Stephen Eastaugh

6pm

Stephen Eastaugh: Unstill Life


By his own admission, Stephen Eastaugh is geographically promiscuous. He is one of only a handful of artists to winter-over in Antarctica. His Knots series, created whilst resident at Mawson Station, bring a contemporary interpretation to that remote landscape.

Stephen joins the Plymouth International Book Festival at the start of the Marine City Festival to complete his Knot series with a new work for Plymouth, commissioned by Plymouth Arts Centre and Plymouth City Marine Festival.

This is a free event held at Plymouth Arts Centre.


Short Fiction 6

6:30–7:30pm

Short Fiction 6 Launch


SHORT FICTION, the visual literary journal, launches its 6th issue tonight with a reading by contributor, Jamie Edgecombe.

The journal, edited and published by Professor Anthony Caleshu, of the English and Creative Writing Department, Plymouth University, aims to showcase the best new fiction, alongside bespoke illustration. In addition to Jamie's reading, the launch will include a talk about the short story form, and its contemporary importance.

Anthony Caleshu is author of two books of poetry, a monograph on the American poet James Tate, and a novella, as well as numerous short stories. His recent poetry collection, Of Whales (in Print, in Paint, in Sea, in Stars, in Coin, in House, in Margins) was a 'book of the year' in the Daily Telegraph (2010). He is founding editor of Short Fiction.The journal boasts lauded contributing editors such as Ali Smith, Jayne Anne Phillips, Helen Oyeyemi, Toby Litt and Gerard Donovan.

This is a Free Event
Crosspoint, Roland Levinsky Building


 

Wednesday 19th September

Carol Rifka Brunt

3–4pm

Carol Rifka Brunt


Carol Rifka Brunt is a New Yorker, now based in Devon. She joins us to chat about her much-anticipated debut novel, Tell The Wolves I'm Home, a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion makes us whole again. Free event.


Johnny Mains

7-8pm

JOHNNY MAINS: THE CHANGING FACE OF HORROR


Join us for this shockingly enjoyable and informative talk. British horror stories have a long and proud tradition. Johnny Mains illustrated talk takes us through the changes in tastes and styles that have kept British readers enthralled from the 1920’s to modern times.


Leviathan

12:00 onwards

The Leviathan: 24 Hour Comic Book Project


The BA (hons) Illustration course at Plymouth University hosts a remarkable event, where 12 artists and illustrators will work intensively in the gallery over 24hrs, using the novel Moby-Dick as the inspiration for their own comic book creations. 
Come watch these inspirational artists at work - names include the wonderful Jonny Hannah, Jack Teagle and Viviane Schwarz.

This live art event will take place in the Peninsula Arts Gallery and then be displayed in Crosspoint, Roland Levinsky Building - This is a Free Event.

Gallery opening times 10am – 5pm with extended gallery opening on September 19th, 10am - 9pm




Friday 21st September
Open Mic

12–6pm

WRITERS’ FAIR AND OPEN MIC


Interested in writing? Come and meet some of the groups and organisations that make up Plymouth’s vibrant writing scene. Meet writing groups, performance promoters, literature development organisations, readers’ groups and more.

This is something for all writers based in Plymouth, and those who are just curious. Local writers’ groups and writing and reading agencies will set up camp for the afternoon in the Central Library; come along and find out about local writers’ groups, what support there is for writers in Plymouth, and writing and reading initiatives in Plymouth. You can also browse, and buy books written and produced by writers living in the area.

5.00 – 6.00 PM - There will be an open mic slot for people to read their work

This is a Free Event



The Dark Crystal

6pm

Wendy & Brian Froud


In addition to the film screening The Dark Crystal you can, as part of your event ticket, attend a special talk by the puppet-makers of The Dark Crystal (and many other feature films) Wendy and Brian Froud.

Wendy Froud is an American doll-artist, sculptor, and puppet-maker, best known for her work creating Yoda for "The Empire Strikes Back" and creatures for the Jim Henson films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

Brian Froud is an English fantasy illustrator. He lives and works in Devon. His work has been used as the inspiration for creatures in films such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth (both in conjunction with Jim Henson's Creature Shop).



7–9pm

The Dark Crystal

A special screening of The Dark Crystal, a 1982 British-American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The animatronics were considered ground breaking. The primary concept artist was the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, currently living on Dartmoor, famous for his distinctive faerie and dwarf designs. Froud also collaborated with Henson and Oz for their next project, the 1986 film Labyrinth, which was notably more light-hearted than The Dark Crystal.




Saturday 22nd September
Crime Writers Association

2–3pm

Crime Always Pays


The Crime Writers' Association give a master-class in writing the perfect crime novel. This session covers plotting, character, twists and turns for anyone wanting insider info on how to create the perfect narrative. In association with Cyprus Well. Tickets: £10 (booking essential).

Peter Hamilton

3:15–4:15pm

Peter Hamilton


Peter F. Hamilton is the Uk's bestselling Science Fiction author. He is the author of 10 novels and two short story collections, including the Night's Dawn Trilogy and The Void Trilogy. His new novel, Great North Road, will be published in September 2012 and copies will be available at the event.


Criminal Writing

6:30–8pm

Criminal Writing

A fantastic opportunity to meet bestselling Norwegian crime writers Jorn Lien Horst and K O Dahl as they read from their work and talk about the continued popularity of Scandinavian crime stories to Britain's leading crime fiction expert, Barry Forshaw.


Criminal Writing

7:30–9:30pm

Sound to Sea

Sound to Sea is a major new symphonic choral work from Plymouth University's Eduardo Reck Miranda, inspired by the words of the explorer Captain Scott. It has been commissioned to mark Plymouth University's 150th anniversary since its founding as a School of Navigation. Tickets: £12




Sunday 23rd September
Philip Gross

2–3pm

Philip Gross


A chance to hear the poet and winner of the TS Eliot Prize 2009, writer of novels for young people, science fiction, plays short stories and radio, talk about his work. With readings and an opportunity for discussion.


Ruthie Henshall

7–9:30pm

Stage and Screen: FILM SCORES AND SONGS


Plymouth International Book Festival 2012 closes in style with a grand finale in the spectacular setting of Plymouth Hoe. The Ten Tors Orchestra, conducted by Simon Ible will be joined on stage by special guest & star of Broadway & West End, Ruthie Henshall, who will perform songs from popular shows. With music from blockbuster film scores including Gladiator, James Bond & Pirates of the Caribbean to classic show tunes from Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera & Carousel. 
Tickets: £20


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By the way, biopsy results arrived. No further surgery required on that particular problem - ongoing monitoring will be programmed. Just wish it could be the same for everyone suffering from cancer.   

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Come on White - move yourself!

Well, here we are guys. The operation went well. Thankfully the bone scan was clear as was the dye test. Currently waiting on the results from the tumour biopsy. That will determine the need for any other surgery or ongoing monitoring - hopefully the latter.

This experience (I hope that doesn't sound to clinical a phrase - it's not meant to be) is teaching me many things, not least of all that I have brilliant friends who genuinely care about what happens to me. Obviously, family do too and I know this has been a very difficult and stressful time for them, especially my wife, Jill.

I don't feel up to writing / editing / doing anything creative currently - can't seem to get motivated or concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm sure that will change, but for now it's taking its toll.  
    
By the way, the free download promotion of The Messenger, which took place last weekend, received a good response and I am extremely grateful to the 400+ people here in the UK, in the USA and Germany who took advantage of the offer. I hope they enjoy the read, and I wait in anticipation (trepidation?) for their reviews. Hopefully, I will do the promotion again soon and give advance warning on here of when that is.

Friday, 24 August 2012

THE MESSENGER -- FREE DOWNLOAD 25th / 26th AUGUST

THE MESSENGER will be available for FREE download - Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th August 2012.
The Messenger is a full on thriller with a mysterious twist. And while military novels are not my usual fare, I got on board with Jack Chandler when he entered the Land of Souls. John E. White skilfully weaves the two worlds together in the way Stephen King does, but without the fantasy tag. Amid tense Harrison Ford style action is the deeper `what does happen to war dead?' Tight, thought-provoking and a great read. You won't think the same about war again.
John's novel has all the ingredients one would expect in an adventure story - a well researched and developed plot, believable characters in reader friendly and accessible prose. It's also pacey containing exciting action scenes within a contemporary and highly relevant political and historical setting.

This is not all however, in a layered narrative, The Messenger fuses the genres of thriller, adventure and the supernatural to excellent effect. This novel is a thoughtful critique of politics, economics and war.
By jaycole
John White's intriguing anti-war thriller 'The Messenger' works on more than one level. As an exciting story with believable characters it carries you along in the way you expect from writers like Lee Child and Matt Hilton. And the military scenes, while not full-on Andy McNab, are pumping with action and well-researched authenticity. But it's the third dimension that makes this book stand out. Lots of people (probably lots of soldiers) who have had near-death experiences will be intrigued by Jack Chandler's visions and doubts. PTSD, paranoia, brain-washing? Or something else? Read it and make up your own mind.
A thrilling read
By 
A great read with a great message skilfully handled. The suggestion of a sixth sense but leaving the reader to interpret that in their own way made it intriguing for me.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The 'c' word

"Where did that come from?"
"Who could have seen that coming?"
Those sorts of phrases (and there will be others - like how "Life sometimes bites you on the arse when you least expect it") tend to focus the attention. One minute you can be seated reasonably comfortably riding the bus along life's freeway, staring at the problems of others passing by and wondering how they cope, and then Wham! something comes out of the blue, smacks you in the mouth and throws you off the bus. Suddenly you're in the road trying to dodge the traffic while it motors on without you.
It's then that you begin to realise what you had - and what you now don't have - your reasonably comfortable seat has gone!    
You pick yourself up and start running in the hope that you can get back onto the bus, but things get in the way - doctor's appointments - specialists - intrusive fingers - cystoscopes. 
And then, while you're lying on a hospital couch with your trousers and pants around your knees, shirt rolled up, the query "Tumour?" appears in the air almost as a rhetorical question between professionals.
Your gaze which, until now, has been trying to look past the nurse and consultant to the examination room's white ceiling, flicks from one to another, waiting. Nothing is said.
    You are are invited to  get dressed.
    As you wipe some wet, mildly anaesthetic, jelly substance off your genitals with a green paper towel you wonder if you misheard? Should I ask? Maybe it isn't. Maybe it is. You take a breath, 'Are we talking cancer here?' you ask hoping he is going to laugh and say "No, of course not". 
    He nods. 'Yes - you have a cancerous tumour in your bladder.'
    He begins making notes and suggesting courses of action, but your mind's not taking it in. The 'c' word has taken control. You stare into your hands. What are you going to tell your wife - your children - grandchildren?  
    'It's superficial.'
    His words lift your gaze.
    'A small tumour,' he explains. 
    Is that good? Is small good? He doesn't answer your thoughts. You look to the nurse - she's talking to you. Follow her into her office. You get up, thank the consultant. Why do we do that? Thank the person who has just told you that you have cancer?
    It's not his fault. 
    Is it mine? Did I do something wrong? 
    As you walk into the nurse's office you realise you didn't get all the jelly off your balls - you're walking like you've peed yourself. 
    She runs through your future - ticks sections in a book, a book about cancer - superficial bladder cancer. Tells you what to expect. Dye tests - to check your kidneys, urinary track. Radioactive liquid tests, to scan your bones.
    Shit, what if it's gone into my bones? Is that why my shoulder has been painful for weeks? Has going to the physio been a waste of time? She reads my wide-eyed expression and reassures me that all these tests will be completed quickly. And they are.
    Two weeks later a gentle voice on the telephone advises, 'Your operation is programmed for Aug 20th.'

 So readers, I'll catch you after the surgeon's knife has done its work.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Olympic Mind Games

I wonder how many people will have looked at the billions of pounds spent on the Olympics in London and thought to themselves: 'Just think of the good that money could do for  ... (insert cause of choice)'?
I was one of them. I had reservations about that amount of money being thrown at this event - especially in these times of austerity when so many of the population are having to tighten their belts to the degree it is making their eyes pop out. Then there was the G4S scandal - when the company's contractual undertaking, to supply security staff was, at the final hurdle, found wanting to the degree that the Government had to deploy military personnel to ensure the necessary amount of trained people were available. As for the promised ongoing benefit to tourism over the next few years, that is a target we will not know we have exceeded / achieved / fallen short of - until those years have passed - and, by then, it will be too late to do anything about it. Then we have to wonder what is going to happen to the buildings erected to house the competitors / officials etc., will they be allotted to those who need them or sold off to those who can pay the highest price? 
Having said all that, as a non-participating sports person, (watching rugby on TV aside) I have been engrossed from the opening ceremony. How many other countries understood the 'Britishness' of it remains to be seen, but it was colourful and told a tale of this green and pleasant land - despite Paul McCartney's strained and quaking voice (I have always been a Beatles fan, but wheeling out Paul for every national event is not doing him any favours). Anyway, like I said,  essentially as a non-participating sports person there have been several elements that have had me glued to the athletics, swimming, rowing, sailing, boxing, volleyball - the list is endless! I have even been mesmerised by the equestrian events and BMX racing! In all of these sports I have been struck by something incredibly heartwarming - the humility of the winners. I mention here the case of a totally exhausted and emotionally drained Zak Purchase and Mark Hunter who apologised to the nation for only winning Silver in the Mens' Double Sculls. These guys worked their balls off and yet they felt they had let down the nation - rather puts obscenely overpaid prima donna footballers into perspective doesn't it? I know who I would rather have as a role model for our young people.
Thinking about role models - these sportsmen and women have engendered an enthusiasm, for a huge range  of sports, that the Government must not let lie fallow - especially in these days of obesity - in children in particular. It needs to capitalise on this wave of interest by investing in sports clubs and facilities that are not elitist or out of reach financially of our youngsters or their parents. Maybe those bankers who got us into this fiscal mess and earned obscene bonuses on the back of ordinary folk and small businesses might like to invest that money in our youth. It might go someway toward  redeeming them in the eyes of the rest of us.

The Olympic Games end tomorrow - and if they are to leave any legacy for our young people then it must be one of action by Government (and bankers?).    

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Courage ... four-legged style.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpYRITtLSg 

One dog risks death to save another on a  busy motorway. 

How many humans would take a risk like this?    

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sisters Noire - Ed Evans

Check out Ed's site.   http://goo.gl/iXW3m  

A malady creative?

Isn't it strange how some poets, songwriters, artists, etc., can do their best work whilst suffering some form of angst, depression, relationship problem or other malady. For instance, being ditched by a girlfriend or boyfriend can open up a channel of creativity that the spurned lover never knew existed within them. That first hesitant slash of paint on canvas suddenly becomes an onslaught, the blocked poetic mind suddenly overloads with verse, the lyricist who may have rhymed 'Moon' with 'June' is suddenly coupling phrases like 'name tag on it' with 'plate tectonic' * - and the writer whose offering was without feeling suddenly overflows with emotion.

What about alcohol and other mind-altering drugs - do they have a place in opening this channel too?

* Kaiser Chiefs brilliant album Employment is used here as an example of inventive coupling.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Shame on them!

I wonder how many more so-called personalities are quaking in their shoes hoping we don't find out that they have been thumbing their noses at us, the public, who put them where they are - the public who have no choice in the matter of paying tax.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Circle of Deceit

Three months ago Harry Miller decided to leave a lucrative directorship in business to write children's stories. His wife, Veronica, isn't pleased - she misses the high life. She nags him to go back. But Harry can't go back - and he can't tell her why. Veronica's efforts to push him into returning open a Pandora's box of intrigue and recriminations which has Harry questioning his marriage and his future.

My short-story Circle of Deceit (15,000 words) is on Kindle - you can read the beginning under the 'Pages' section to the right of this post. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Friends ...

One of the most important resources a writer can have is friends. Friends are there when self-doubt creeps in - and it does with creative minds. Friends are there to say where you're going wrong - where that story needs tweaking - why the character you just spent a week creating, and think is brilliant, - isn't working. Friends look at your manuscript and tell you why a scene, which you absolutely love, doesn't move the story forward. 

Friends are there when you can't write, because life has just erupted, the car's just failed its MOT and you need to ferry the kids to dancing / judo / fencing / extra maths lessons - or your washing machine / freezer / central heating system has just gone down and it's Saturday night and no tradesman is going to call on a Sunday unless you raise a mortgage for the call-out charge. 

Friends are there when the people around you don't understand why you want to curl up in a ball and cover yourself with a duvet, because an agent has just told you that your story is not what he / she or anyone else in the western hemisphere is looking for. 

Friends are there when you see a TV mini-series which has the same storyline as the book you've been working on for the last three years - and it gets bad reviews. 

Friends bolster, boost, encourage, cajole, listen, but, above all, friends are people who tell you the truth, because they want you to be the very best writer you can be.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Olympic torch visits Plymouth.

The Olympic torch made my wife, Jill, and I feel a wonderful part of this special and historic event.

The torch arrived on Plymouth Hoe at around 9.20 this evening. Overseen by statues of Sir Francis Drake and Queen Victoria, the atmosphere from the thousands present was tremendous and created a magnificent start to the rest of the torch journey.
70 days to go to the Olympics in London.  

Thursday, 10 May 2012

To preach or not to preach ...

In The Paradigm Culture, my main character, Tom (working name), has a hatred of injustice and believes the judicial system needs beefing up - a feeling close to my heart.


Now, as a writer, it would be very easy to get into preaching mode and, through Tom, bring out all my pet hates and frustrations with the justice system as if they were his. Of course, Tom can have feelings like mine, but they would need to be as a result of his upbringing - his insecurities - his need for stability and fair play - not mine. If I created a character purely as a vehicle to promulgate my own views then the reader would very quickly see through him and realise what was going on. 

A character's actions and thinking are motivated by many elements - fear, love, justice, money, etc. Tom's motivation centres on rules. He feels comfortable with rules - society needs rules - and those who break the rules have to be dealt with. For Tom, failure to deal with them brings chaos.

So imagine, when Tom is granted the power to bring to justice these people who think they are outside the law, what his reaction will be. What would yours be? What would you do if you had the power to invade minds?   

Friday, 16 March 2012

So near and yet ...

The last few months have been taken up with my edit / rewrite of The Paradigm Culture. Today I am at page 190 of 199 - so, close to the end. Once it is finished and I have read the hard copy a couple of times - then re-edited, I can hand out hard copies to the readers who have offered to provide critique on it. 

To a writer, those who provide critique are worth their weight in gold. Their feedback can make or break a story - or, indeed, alter it in a way that the author didn't see coming when it was written. Being close to the story can often be a double-edged sword for a writer. It can mean that we don't see the wood for the trees and the 'critique readers' can tell us that. 

The Paradigm Culture was a cathartic journey for me and one I will explain here when the book is finished. I will also post sample chapters in the same way that I have with The Messenger - here on this site.  

In the meantime I will leave you with this quote from a spokesperson for the alien race who created our universe as a sanctuary from war in their universe: "It was going to give us breathing space. Somewhere to rebuild, rearm … repopulate. We evacuated tribes to what we thought were viable planets, yours and others, but our people became ill and died very quickly. Your planet was the only one where they lived a little longer. So, we concentrated on it. We still lost people, but we realised that if we could create a new race using the planet’s animal life form we might have the means to build a new army."

So, no higher being - just an experiment in logistics.

Friday, 9 March 2012

The 400th ...

Written by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian: 7th March 2012:  http://goo.gl/u79xh 

"The death of the 400th Briton killed serving in Afghanistan is another grim statistic in a conflict that has been going on so long it would hardly be surprising if people became inured to the toll.
It offers another chance to pause and reflect, and to ask whether another milestone tells us anything significant about what has happened and is still happening in Afghanistan.
Context is important. Though UK forces have been in the country since 2001, only five British troops died in the first five years of combat. The numbers started rising fast in 2006, when 3,300 personnel from 16 Air Assault Brigade were sent to Helmand province amid fears the Taliban had reclaimed territory in the south of the country.
Explaining the decision to triple troop numbers, John Reid, then defence secretary, said the UK could "not risk Afghanistan once again becoming a sanctuary for terrorists".
However you characterise the Taliban, the British contingent quickly discovered they had arrived much too late, and with too few people. At times, they were in danger of being overrun.
In 2006, 39 British troops died, the following year 42. In the following three years, the figures rose sharply – 51, 108, 103. In 2011, the figure dropped to 46.
The curve on the graph tells you something about the fierceness of the fighting in 2009 and 2010. It does not explain how western governments so completely underestimated what needed to be done to impose some kind of stability and security in Afghanistan's contested heartlands. The drop in casualties last year came after the US "surged" 30,000 extra combat troops into the country, spearheading a campaign to take on the Taliban in its strongholds.
So the 400th death comes at a time when casualty rates are falling. But British fatalities have to be put in a Nato context, and a civilian one too.
In 2011, 418 American troops died in Afghanistan. In 2010, 499 were killed. On 1 January this year, a total of 1,864 US personnel had died in the conflict, much the highest of any nation in the military coalition.
Twenty-eight nations have lost troops in Afghanistan, but Canada – which has lost 158 – is the only other country to have suffered more than 100 casualties.
None of which compares to the number of Afghan civilians estimated to have died since 2006. The United Nations believes almost 10,000 died as a result of the conflict in the four years to 2010.
Within three years, only a few hundred British personnel will remain in Afghanistan. The withdrawal has already begun and, if trends continue, the number of British casualties is likely to fall as hundreds of troops head back to the UK this year, with thousands more to follow in 2013 and 2014.
Sometimes it is easy to look at the conflict through the prism of statistics, but 400 is not just a number. It is a person who will have a name, an age, and a rank. Their death will mean another family coping with the loss of a loved one; friends and colleagues with the pain of being told someone they cared for won't be coming home. The military will put a protective arm around those who are suffering; liaison officers will take families through the arrangements, commanders of regiments will write eulogies and, where possible, read lessons at funerals. Wives of other troops will form a tightly knit circle around women who have lost a husband or partner.
These formal and informal practices will carry on out of the spotlight, and bring comfort to relatives who will have good reason to question why British troops are still out there, and the price of the sacrifice they have made."
---

I quote Nick Hopkins report here not only because it is well written, but because it contains the fact that,in addition to our young men and women who are still being killed, an estimated 10,000 Afghan civilians have also been killed - many of whom will  be children. Of the ones who have survived, many will be injured, traumatised and left without parents, brothers and sisters - and will have known nothing but this conflict from the day they were born. To my mind the question here is: After a decade of death on all sides, when we and the rest of the world walk out of Afghanistan what will have changed?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

An Orchard of Kindles.

The Kindle presentation was well received at the conference room of our new library. It's interesting to see the number of new and potential authors who view the opportunity in this publishing method. This empowerment for the older writer, especially those who have tried the agent route without success, is allowing dreams and ambitions to be achieved.

Talking, recently, with people keen to develop their writing skills, some have said that they would like writing groups to cover not only novel writing, short stories and poetry, but journalism, writing for magazines, article writing for profit, etc. I began wondering how many groups teach all these elements and how many do it successfully - or whether trying to be all things to all people doesn't work. Any views will be appreciated.  


Last week I visited Orchard Studios, Gunnislake (Cornwall), http://www.orchardlearningstudios.co.uk/     owned and run by Jay Hooper. Amongst other activities, she and her tutors are running creative writing workshops and courses not only at the studios, but around the east Cornwall area. Jay is keen to see a network of groups around the Devon and Cornwall writing community link to other groups in other parts of the country - an ethos close to my heart too. She is also keen to investigate the Kindle path to publication for her students. Hopefully, we can work together on this element.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The future is e-range

I've been invited to give a talk (Feb 9th) during the opening week of our superb new library - rebuilt after the original burned down a few years ago. Myself, Emma Tofi, children's author and illustrator: (www.thingleypress.com) and  Tom MacKenzie, blogger, Herald columnist, author  (www.lastfoundling.com) will present on our chosen subjects (in my case Kindle Publishing) and then answer questions from attendees. 
It's interesting that in excess of 11,000 libraries in the US are embracing Kindle. It seems too that some forward-thinking libraries here are looking to do the same. People will always have differing opinions about technology and its effect on the world, and I am not suggesting that books are approaching the end of their particular road, rather, that the e-reader performs a function which, for an increasing number of readers, of all ages, fits their particular need. And, in the case of the new writer, for whom the task of obtaining an agent can be a lengthy, difficult and frustrating process, the e-publishing element of such as Kindle is an opportunity not to be missed. Having said that, the facility to publish at will does not  improve stories which have poor plots, characters who are flat and writing that doesn't flow - and it's important that, before attempting e-publishing, the new writer investigates the possibility of whether that was why the agent(s) declined to represent them. Therefore, the ability to stand back, accept critique, not be defensive and be willing to learn are critical to the success of the serious writer. E-publishing, however, is not a shortcut to success - it is a alternative path for those writers who have proven that their book is ready in all respects. Why is this so important? Because Amazon reader reviewers are not known for pulling punches - and neither should they be, e-books are a product for which the customer pays - it's a business transaction!