It’s been a funny old running year. For much of it I just couldn’t get going. It was a struggle. On two successive Sundays I bailed out of my long runs and got the bus back home. I felt sluggish.
Everything hurt. Although I continued to lead groups on Saturday morning, and Wednesday evenings during the summer I stopped enjoying it so much. I didn’t feel up to entering races. In fact I entered four half-marathons (Southampton, Winchester, two in Jersey) but didn’t make the starting line in any of them.
I started wondering if it was time to pack it in altogether.
At which time I considered my diet again. Not for the first time in my life. I dusted off the juicer, hit the fruit and vegetable shelves, started following my own preaching about avoiding processed foods.
And what a difference it made, almost immediately. My body reacted joyously, I felt loose again, less achy, a spring in my legs. The enjoyment came back.
Once more I started to look forward to running. Early morning runs before work became a habit. The miles built up. I happily ran in the last few races of the year, the highlight being a 52-minute Autumn 10k, the age-equivalent of my best time set eight years ago. I hit my 1,000 mile target which, at one time, was looking hopeless.
So looking towards a good 2019 with renewed enthusiasm.
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I’m not that much into Christmas. I’ll therefore let my blogger friend Andrea deliver to you a bit of magic this Christmas Eve.
My food ran out days ago and there’s no prospect of rescue up here at the top of the world. I try to put up my tent, but the arctic wind bludgeons and tears at the fabric. My compass is gone, my GPS is behaving strangely and the whiteout obliterates the stars. I no longer know which direction to walk in. The next time I fall, I stay there, slumped in the snow, ready to give in to sleep at last.
I drift, watching flurries of snow dart past my goggles. The snowstorm cancels out any differences in the landscape. When my eyes close it’s darker, but that’s the only difference, it seems, between being awake or asleep.
There is something tugging me. Something rough and insistent. I try to shrug it off but it gives me no rest. I open my eyes to a blur of dark movement. It…
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I thought a few of you might like to see this excellent blog post describing the celebration of Lucia, the Bringer of Light. It is chiefly celebrated in Sweden and is told by Annika Perry.
TODAY (13th December) nearly every home, school, hospital, factory, workplace, church, hotel and restaurant in Sweden is celebrating LUCIA.
Lucia is the Bringer of Light and is celebrated on what, in the old almanac, was the darkest day of the year. The day is one of light, hope and love. The tradition has its roots in St. Lucia of Syracuse who died as a martyr in AD304.
Whilst the dark holds its firm grip on night, households across the country waken and quietly prepare. The long white gowns will have been carefully ironed the day before, the red sash belts laid out, candles and matches placed at the ready.
Lucia herself carries a crown of candles on her head. These are often now battery powered but not too long ago normal wax candles were used. The crown was placed on a damp handkerchief on the head…
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A quiet December day, I’ve been de-selected from jury service. Go back to work maybe? Nah. I’ll take a walk and – in particular – pay a visit to Mont Orgueil, something I haven’t done for years. And fair play to them for opening all year round. Times past, Jersey basically shut down from October to March, its money made from the summer tourists. Those days have gone.
Gorey became a fortress town 800 years ago. As relations improved with France over the centuries its strategic position fell away. Oyster farming became a big industry and source of employment, until the oyster beds were dredged out. Shipbuilding took its place, until steam overtook sail.
Today Gorey is probably as quiet a place as it has been for 100 years. Let’s take a look.
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Like a bad penny you turned up in the change
In any novel that we read or write there will most likely be a protagonist and an antagonist. You may end up with more than one protagonist, especially where there are different threads or stories throughout the novel. In Supply and Demand there are three clear protagonists.
Your antagonist may be a single person or entity. There might be one antagonist, or a group of some sort. Or your antagonist might indeed be ephemeral. In Supply and Demand it might be said that the entire human trafficking industry, or perhaps a section of it, acts as the protagonist in the story.
Then you have your secondary characters – those who act as facilitators and who add colour and context to the narrative. A question to the writers out there. What becomes of your secondary characters? Do they fade and disappear when their part in your story is done? Or do they resonate with you so strongly that they turn up later in your writing? Like a bad penny.
Tess Reitzel née Picot was one of four main characters in A Jersey Midsummer Tale. During that long, hot day four became three, then two. But when the story was done Tess kept calling to me. ‘Tell my story,’ she called. And so I did in Tess of Portelet Manor.
Similarly in A West Cork Mystery one of my protagonists started off in a Darwin (Australia) bar. There he was given a helping hand by a hard-bitten, blonde barmaid. Chantilly lasted for a chapter. But she deserved a bigger part as I pondered in this post. Finally she got what she deserved as one of my three protagonists in Supply and Demand.
So, to the writers, have you ever – without pre-planning – found a future role for a secondary character who you previously threw away?
Some stormy nights your memory haunts me
You won’t go away
‘Me and my mother and the babies, we live in a hut, in a room, next to the canal. We have nothing. We only wish for my father to come and live with us again. You see my foot?’ She pointed to her left foot. Startled, Dilawar now saw she had only four toes. ‘One night when I was small, a rat ate my little toe in the night. That is how we live. But it is OK. I am good at selling flowers.’
It was in 2011 that I watched the documentary The Day My God Died. I blogged about it shortly thereafter. Seven years later, after a number of false starts, my story inspired by the film sees the light of day.
It’s not a book that you may wish to read. It’s disturbing though not graphic. But, knowing that – as individuals – we are powerless to halt human trafficking, I felt impelled to write on the subject. If it helps to raise awareness then who knows, it might do some good.
Kindle e-book at the moment, paperback to follow shortly.
United Kingdom – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KV4SJX9
United States – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KV4SJX9
India (where much of the story is set) – https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07KV4SJX9
My perceptive and learned writing adviser Sue Ghosh was recently kind enough to interview me for her blog. Here’s how it went.
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The story’s written. It’s been beta read. Edits and minor re-writes done. I’ve proofread it to death (and still finding the odd blooper on the fifth read-through). I could almost recite the 66,000 words if asked. Now to turn my Word document into a mobi file for Kindle. ‘Simple’ you cry.
So where did my page breaks go? What happened to my line spacing? I need chapters to begin on new pages. I need dialogue not to have spaces.
Yes I know. There are dozens of ‘how to’ articles out there. A child could fix it in minutes. The thing is, my brain shuts down at any onset of tricky technology. Reading ‘how to’ articles bewilders me more than ever.
Which is odd really. I was there at the dawn of office technology. A former employer proudly trumpeted that our accounts department was now computerised, as a selling point. No more Kalamazoo cards. I took to desktop computing as a duck to water, happily backing up each night onto floppy disks (when they were really floppy).
With my colleagues I watched in awe as our Mark 1 facsimile machine sent its first document to New York. It took ten minutes, and we marvelled that the recipients were able to read it right away.
I was there when the boss gave the secretary a thick, ribbon-bound document with instructions to email it to another office – he’d heard we’d installed this wondrous new invention that could do it.
I was there when the boss excitedly showed me something new called a spreadsheet which could add a row of figures in an instant. (Whatever happened to Supercalc?)
See, I can cope to a degree having worked in offices and seen technologies come and go. (I mean, does anyone use a fax machine any more?) I’ve used Word, Excel etc. every day of my working life – at least since they became commonplace. But at a basic level. Anything beyond basic and my brain shuts down.
So I’ll battle on with the formatting. I’ll get there eventually, by trial and error. You can expect to see Supply & Demand available in a week or two. In Kindle anyway. Formatting for print will be a further battle.