Category: FANTASY

At last; The Journals of Raymond Brooks, Second Edition is out!

I am excited and delighted to announce that the second edition of Amit Bobrov’s Fantasy tale The Journals of Raymond Brooks is out now and I edited it!

I first met Amit through Goodreads.com and I took a peep at the opening pages of this, his first novel. I was immediately grabbed by the opening premise; Modern day assassin creeping up on house with two vampire survivors from the middle-ages. I had to read it!

What I experienced was an enchanting tale which guided me safely though a complex set of ideas. There were only two things which let the book down slightly, a slightly under-developed (very understandable for an Israeli writer) view of the extreme religious period of the Late Middle Ages and a poor English edit.

Fortunately I have ample experience of the former through my personal genealogical research, which took me back to 1240 France, and the number of weighty academic books I have read on the Medieval. Amit and I were able to work together to address these issues. I also did a small amount of development editing.

The result is what must be the first installment of a sweeping epic tale. I know Amit is working on the second book and a third is in the pipeline.

If you want a quick synopsis I would say the story is rich and complex with at least three protagonists and two narrative perspectives, which is why I see it as an epic. By the end of the book there is Jaunee, an elf-like vampire, her partner in crime, Ray (Raymond) and one other mysterious character in the background. This last character will be developed in the next part of the story.

Ray is an immigrant who is struggling to survive on the streets of Late Medieval England. He becomes the apprentice to a blacksmith, whose daughter Ray falls in love with. Jaunee is another survivor, a street urchin, whose own adventures eventually lead her on a course which converges with Ray’s. Neither are typical characters, both are complex.

While other non-English writers might settle for something which is ‘vaguely right’, Amit was open to suggestions and listened very closely to my opinions on how he could get his tale across in the correct period-setting. I am very impressed by Amit’s love of his art and how far he is prepared to go to bring the reader a tale which feels authentic.

If you like fantasy with a few twists, and a writer that is not afraid to mix genres, try this one.

Where could vampires have come from?

This week: An interview with Jake Nanden from the Iron Series and: Where could vampires have come from?

Where could vampires have come from?
I am not going to say here whether vampires exist or not; that is a question I might never find an answer to. But where could they have come from if they do exist? That is an interesting question.

funnily enough, since the beginning of man’s history, vampires have been seen to be some kind of ‘elite’. They are even idealised versions of humans in some stories. Recently this thought has played on my mind a lot.

It would seem logical to assume that the natural suspicion working and middle class people feel for royalty and nobility might naturally lead to an attribution to them of ‘unnatural powers’. I don’t think this is a modern trend and might have even been more prevalent in the age when Royalty were seen to be mandated by by God to rule

Vlad III, known posthumously as Vlad the Impaler because of his cruelty was just one such ruler. His first name, Dragwlya, is the origin of the modern name Dracula and Vlad is most likely the source of the legend of Dracula – a fiend who drank blood.

Then we have Elizabeth Báthory (be patient if I seem to be going over old ground here). She was also accused of drinking the blood of virgins.

What do both have in common? They are both European royalty. What else do we know about European Royalty (and indeed what did common folk know at the time about them)? They tended to inbreed. what sort of symptoms can one expect from inbreeding? An increased chance of haemophilia. Indeed Vlad III is rumoured to have suffered from it.

According to wikipedia: Haemophilia lowers blood plasma clotting factor levels of the coagulation factors needed for a normal clotting process.

In genetics it is linked to the X-Chromosome. Men have an X and a Y chromosome and women to X chromosomes and a Y chromosome. Thus haemophilia in women is very rare: if one X-Chromosome will not support the coagulation, the other X-Chromosome will express it. That is perhaps a good thing because the gene for haemophilia is inherited through the mother. The last thing you want in a royal family is a woman with haemophilia. If she is a silent carrier, her sons are 50% likely to suffer from haemophilia, if she herself shows symptoms, her sonds are 100% likely to suffer. And certainly in the middle ages it dramatically cut life expectancy; few sufferers would even reach adulthood.

But guess who was a silent carrier? Queen Victoria. From her, were born most of the European royalty for the next 100 years. And of course Czar Nicolas’s son suffered from haemophilia. A haemophilia sufferer will tend to be mororse, tend to stay inside and probably exhibit a paler complexion than other children or adults (if they are lucky enough to reach maturity). Is it too much of a stretch of imagination to suppose that haemophilia, and more particularly, haemophilia in royalty may be the source of the legend of vampires?

I am not discounting the idea that Vampires have a separate existance from this and indeed a legitimate place in the tree of evolution. But I propose that one of the legends around them originates in the European Royal Disease – haemophilia.

What is your opinion? Please let me know and join in the debate by commenting below.

An interview with Jake Nanden from the Iron Series

This interview appeared on the Library of Erana blog a few weeks ago. Thanks very much to Alexandra Butcher for permission to publish this.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s): Jake Nanden

Age: 34

Please tell us a little about yourself. I am 5’11’, dark hair, short – Army cut, slightly curly. Green eyes.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Getting middle aged, slightly paunchy with drying skin – like paper in places – except my mech arm. That’s synthetic skin on there and as smooth and supple as the day it was sprayed on. I even had mine tattooed but don’t tell anyone.

Would you kill for those you love? I kill every day – most days – to keep my culture intact. I would say that is killing for those I love. Of course there is a moral code… And as a soldier the moral code is almost everything. After a while… killing… it sometimes seems to be the only thing you have left. Family are too far away.

Do you like animals? I love animals. Their love is unconditional. You can never quite be sure with humans, can you?

Do you have a family? Ha! Ha! Yes. A test-tube. No seriously my mother – Mary, my sister Justine and a dog – a collie called Frisky. My adoptive dad was the famous robotics designer Robert R. Nanden but he’s dead. My mother was his assistant and pretty accomplished at that!

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? I am not sure about any of my childhood memories. They are probably all implanted. I am a replicant. The first memory I am sure about is playing on the grass with my adoptive mother watching me playing cricket.

She shouted out, “Jake! You are such a talented cyborg!”

Even at my tender age, I knew a replicant was not the same thing as a cyborg and I knew that she should know, as her first husband had been a famous robot designer. Her words had always stuck in my head.

But anyway, adoptive parents of replicant children are always told to create some vivid experience for their kid in the first few days so that the imprinting takes properly. So it’s probably not significant.

Do you have any phobias? Mirrors. Can’t stand them. They make me sweat and… well, I’m very nervous around them. I avoid them.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I write books – well, I am writing my first; a detective thriller. It’s kind of Raymond Chandler-ish. I call it Chandleresque, but I guess that’s bad English. My adoptive parents are first generation J5 – that’s a space station – so they kinda inherited a USAC – United States of America and Canada – accent. Anyway, I am rambling. The main character is Dusty. He’d a sucker for the pretty ladies!

Tell Us About your world

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Well, I was born on Mars – at least I was adopted on Mars. We lived under a dome for most of my childhood. My most precious memory is of my dad taking me out on a hoverbike to see the real Mars sunset. Of course, you could see sunsets from the dome, but the U.V. protection took out most of the colour and I had nagged him for weeks to take me outside to see one. With difficulty, because my fingers were so small, I lifted the outer U.V. filter and gasped. The white disk of the sun almost burned a hole in my head. Its white was so intense it was almost blue and the blue became a corona as my eyes quickly looked up and away from it. The corona gradually faded into a riot of colour that filled the rest of my vision. The purples and oranges were deeper than those in a bowl of the freshest and most tangy grapes and peaches.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? That’s three questions in one! Yes of course there is religion but I struggle to believe in anything other than a goal of justice – for my friend’s death. We have the usual Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, and a few others that go way back on Earth. Plus we have the got Mech! Well, what can I say about him? It started with cyborgs and androids worshipping the God of mechanical things. They believe Mech created humans to service the machines. Lately even replicants are converting. Most replicants find it difficult to have faith in anything other than themselves.

Name and describe a food from your world. We can make what we like using n-gens; nano-generators. ‘Fried’ is my favourite: bacon, eggs, potatoes, beans, fried-bread and mushrooms. I am old enough to remember what these things are called, and what they look like. To most grunts they are just ‘fried’,

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another? We are more concerned with Ischians – aliens. We call them ‘Dogs’ because they have evolved from something like dogs. Pretty formidable though… You don’t want to mess with Ishuns. Races? I don’t think anybody notices any more. Still a stigma to being a replicant though. I think that’s where people’s racism has gone.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Mech, the god for all A.I. beings, as robots and androids were now permitted to call themselves, lived in a red world of dust which corroded him and he had three sons, Iron, Tin and Wire. They lived in the desert for they were afraid of the sea, but one day Iron, who was the eldest son, committed a sin by openly doubting Mech and Mech banished him. Iron wandered alone until he came to the sea, and left his mark upon a rock but no more was ever heard from him again.

I guess the other one is that God looks after us all. Replicants don’t agree. You should see the size of funeral urns replicants get. Then you would know all about inequality.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears.

The Iron series: Iron I, Too Bright the Sun, Iron II, Unknown Place, Unknown Universe and Iron III (published soon) Worlds Like Dust

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Why should your main character have flaws?

This week: Sneak Preview, news about an Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate promotion and: Why should your main character have flaws?

Why should your main character have flaws?
All of my main character (and thus protagonists) have flaws. In my earlier books I think it was just instinct that led me to this. In fact you could argue that for James Brennan in The Man Who Recreated Himself and King Vaslav in Infinite Blue Heaven the question of whether they are flawed or not is the main theme examined in the novels. James is perhaps naive and Vaslav is perhaps sexually weak, being a willing participant in incest, something not uncommon in the 17th century. In The Ice Boat, which is my first novel completed, it’s very obvious that David Dee is flawed; naive and confused by life. Physically he is in good health however, as are the other two characters mentioned.

The practice of giving the main character (MC) flaws probably began in Greek literature with Odysseus. He is a superb physical specimen, canny and intelligent far beyond the abilities of most around him. He takes on the Gods and wins. He dreams up the Trojan Horse trick which had become legend. But, he has a kind of self-loathing, and considers himself ‘odious’, from which the author – nominally Homer – gave him his name. However, Odysseus is not part of a tragedy; he does regain his Kingdom, his wife and his son – eventually. In Greek tragedies we have perfect beings that suffer terribly as a consequence or despite of this. King Leonidas (whose name incidentally derives from the root ‘lion’) doesn’t seem to have had a fault; incredibly brave, resourceful, physically strong and tough, and loyal to Sparta beyond consideration of his own life. Moreover he was real; he actually lived. Of course he probably wasn’t perfect but his exploits have become legend. With 300 Spartans of his own personal guard, he held the pass at Thermopylae against at least 10,000 Persians long enough for the Greek navy to assemble and defeat the Persian navy. He and all his men were lost. This is the essence of Greek tragedy: great deads and great intentions that end in disaster for the main protagonist.

It is said that we no longer write tragedies: perhaps we no longer can. All modern MCs are flawed. We even have the ‘anti-hero’ now; a character so flawed he would probably be the equivalent of the baddie in Greek Literature. Perhaps it’s because we no longer look to stories for moral guidance. Nobody likes being preached to and even authors of quite ‘high’ moral literature such as J. R. R. Tolkien distance themselves from any suggestion of allegory in their work. Nowadays we prefer to sympathise with characters. We are looking for escapism. All we want to do is imagine that we are the MC in a book or one of the main protagonists and absorb ourselves in the world the writer has created for us.

In Iron I: Too Bright the Sun, Jake Nanden has his flaws: he has mechanical body parts and is terrified of mirrors. He also has the deep lack of confidence that is the realm of replicants. Jake was a fascinating character to create and write about because he saw himself as non-human so he felt he had a perspective on the whole human race. Stone, in Iron II: Unknown Place, Unknown Universe is a self-proclaimed douchebag. They don’t come more anti-hero than Stone. I loved writing his part because I could make him as selfish, self-absorbed and obnoxious as I wanted. Then of course there are the aliens! Chief among them as protagonist is Kek-suîxjh. Super-intelligent, he nevertheless suffers from an innocent awe of the world that slips dangerously over into naivity at critical times.

My most flawed MC is the anonymous hero in Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. He has an eye defect, a kind of spiritual’weakness’ and suffers from extreme bad luck. Incidentally one of the other protagonists in this book, Georgina, is much-loved by fans and readers despite the fact that she is a baddie and out to exploit the MC. Strange how such characters can sometimes gain sympathy.

I am about to start work on a pure Vampire novel. Now the MC will have no flaws other than that he is a vampire. Is this a flaw? I don’t know but certainly some people view vampires as super-beings. Perhaps vampires, werewolves and other shape-changers or mutants and the last domain of the ‘perfect’ being, albeit in disguise. It will be interesting to see if a ‘perfect’ character manages to gain audience sympathy. In fact this leads me to my main question this week: could a perfect character gain acceptance from an audience today? I want your views so please post your comments here.

Sneak Preview
This is from my latest project, December Radio:

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

Roger Dyce was beside himself with frustration. His eaglet frame paced up and down inside the small anti-chamber within the Cabinet War Room complex while Mr Brown sat, apparently calmly, on one of the wooded chairs placed against the wall.
“Sit down Dyce! You have nothing to worry about!”
“I’m not worried sir! I’m… well, I’m very angry! And frustrated! Yes, that’s what it is. Didn’t I say…?”
“Yes! Yes! We’ve been all through that. But perhaps this is your chance. Don’t blow it!”
That made Roger sit down. “First of all nobody will listen to me! And then it is implied that I’m somehow to blame for sitting on evidence!”
“Yes. Okay. I know, War is never fair.”
“And I’m nervous! But why here?” he continued. Brown didn’t answer. Dyce stared at the flaking cream paint smeared across bricks. During the last fifteen minutes they had heard the sound of muffled shouting from within the Map Room where the British Prime Minister was about to receive them. At that moment the door to the Map Room was flung open and out stumbled a well-built man whose facial features were so pleasingly regular and whose receding hair was so neatly minimal that they both looked as if painted onto an egg. He was wearing a neat blue suit. He nodded curtly to Brown and smiled curtly at Dyce. Roger could see the man was hurt underneath a brave façade of brisk efficiency. Whoever he was, Roger didn’t want such a powerful man as his enemy. They both followed the man though the door and took seats facing Winston Churchill.
For brown, this was only the second time he had met Winnie but he was no less nervous than Roger for it. Winston was in a foul mood:
“Now, you may wonder…hm, why we are meeting here?” The Prime Minister’s face was graven. “The truth is, from what I have learned yesterday, the War is not as over, as I thought it was! Indeed, we are in the most grave danger! Grave! I have no intention of leaving here until this is resolved. Brown, you’ve met J. J Llewellin, MP and currently serving on the board overseeing the American Nuclear Bomb programme. And this, I understand is the young Dyce!” A fleeting smile from the Prime Minister showed Roger that he alone in the room was above blame. This gave him confidence.
He smiled. “Yes, Prime Minister!”

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate promotion
I have just signed up to a new website promoting covers and first pages of novels. The website is run by internationally selling writer Laurence O’Bryan, a writer much respected and with nearly 200,000 followers I am hoping to get some decent exposure from this promotion. I have chosen Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate for the promotion because it’s my best-selling novel and is most like Laurence’s own work. The promotion will run for one year from the day it starts (in the next week or two) and to mark the occasion I did one last edit on the novel to create the Third Edition. The website is: http://booksgosocial.com
Apart from some small corrections to the text to make it more readable I have taken out the Author’s Notes and the Secret Codes that they referred to. I felt that the book has stood the test of time and no longer necessarily needs the Secret Codes to be enjoyable and furthermore, they may put off some of the more serious adult readers. I am quite sure the book’s contents are mature enough to please such readers.
However the Secret Codes, for anybody who wants to try deciphering them and nobody has successfully done so yet, will still be available in the Second Edition. For some reason, known only to Amazon, even though this is still available, it’s not associated with the Third Edition and is only possibly to find by searching specifically for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Second Edition.

The Moon, Shape-changers and Consciousness – what is the truth?

This week: The Moon, Shape-changers and Consciousness – what is the truth?

The Moon, Shape-changers and Consciousness – what is the truth?
I recently started a discussion group around the concepts in my Ordo Lupus series. You can find the group here and I invite you to join. I am planning a pure Vampire novel as a follow up to this series and I want to try to understand further how shape-changing has become buried so deeply in our consciousness and explore whether it actually exists in humans.

Notice how I carefully say ‘humans’, for it certainly exists in other animals. Look at butterflies, moths and flies for instance. The crysalis stage is a fascinating example of metamorphosis in nature.

In Vampire Beneficence I go one stage further and suggest that it exists in humans and that the change to a kind of benevolent ‘super-being (which we currently call vampire or werewolf though sheer superstition and fear) is triggered by diet. In other words, when man became adept enough at gathering food that a diet of pure blood was possible, the human body could transform into something quite different.

In conversation I often say to people that I am affected by the phase of moon but I experience the worse effects during the new moon. Twice I have felt out of sorts and guessed it’s a new moon and I was accurate to within 2 hours and 1 hour.

In my Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate FB group we recently had a discussion that went like this:

I said:

Another member said: No [werewolves don’t exist], but full moons, Friday 13th and clock changes do seem to have an adverse effect on those who are psychiatricly unstable.
Possibly in times gone by, those people may have been considered ‘wild’ or ‘animalistic’ in behaviour.
I said: Personally I am absolutely convinces that my mood is affected by phases of the moon. Twice I have suddenly felt it was a new moon and when I checked, I was accurate to within 1 hour. As somebody said to me, the brain is over 70% water so why should not the pull of the moon have an effect?
Yet another member replied: I do hope Werewolves do not exist, same as with non-Twilight Vampires. Last thing I want to discover it that we’re not at the top of the food chain. Why no problem with Twilight-Vampires, because at worst they’ll try to seduce dumb 16yo girls. Not such a risk for humanity, if anything they’d be doing us a favor by making sure dumb 16yo don’t pass on their genes to anyone else.

Seriously though, the phases of the moon do affect mood swings, as far as I know.

———————————-

I went on to do some research: I watched a program about Metamorphosis: the Sea Urchin is really strange. It had an a juvenile which grows inside a larva and when it is ready the larva dives to the bottom of the sea and the juvenile breaks out of the larva fully formed and eats it!! this raises all sorts of questions for me, as one who believes in the soul:
Where is the soul when the larva is being eaten by the emerging adult?
If it’s in both bodies of matter how can a consciousness be in two places at the same time?
If the above are both the case, does one defer to the will of the other?

You can see my problem. How does one get around the idea of a consciousness occupying two bodies at the same time. Is it possible that vampires and werewolves have a parallel existence within this world? Or do the lycanthropes or shape-changers just exist within a separate world of pure ‘consciousness’?

What do you think?

Other news
I estimate that I am within 2 days of completing the first manuscript of The Ice Boat Volume II! It has been tough going making something out of something I wrote ten years ago. And yet somebody I know is actually reading it and they like it! I was told, “Dude, your description of that Santana album while they were high was AMAZING, a true joy to read,” and that the book is erotic. Expect it to be published as an unexpected bonus for 2014. Sign up for my Newsletter to get the release before anyone else.

Blog: The Taste of First Blood

This week: Werewolves in Mauritius, Rewards for Reviews, Short Stirling aircraft recovery, Video Blog Tour

Werewolves in Mauritius
I often feel like a rabbit in the headlights when it comes to blog time. I simply haven’t prepared anything much and I am so busy, yet I want to give something to my readers and fans. This week it is a little easier because I came across this article on Werewolves in Mauritius. Actually it’s not the original recent article I was looking for – I heard of this phenomenon back in the summer – but the frequency of reports shows just how steeped in Werewolf culture Mauritius is.

Werewolves – or Loup Garou – the French equivalent word – inhabit the Mauritian subconscious like the sea and sun of this gorgeous island. They are said to prowl the streets and night, rape women and appear as naked men covered in oil. They are also said to be able to vanish at will but despite having such supernatural powers, they are not averse to a little high-tech gadgetry in their lives. The most recent spate of sighting this year included several eye-witness accounts of the Loup Garou carrying mobile phones and even talking on them!

I am fascinated by Vampire and werewolf… shall we call it culture, for now; I hate the terms mythology and legend. To me, vampires and werewolves are part of our very deepest emotions and views of the world. I believe man has had the idea of vampires and werewolves since he could visualise his own existence. Indeed I have been slowly developing a para-world that includes this as part of its fundamental structure. They may not be part of the physical world around us but their effect is.

I am equally fascinated by werewolves and I think they fit a similar niche in our inner-most thoughts. Shape-shifters or lycanthropes all, and welcome to my world if you believe. To this category we might also add the classic zombie – a creature which is also undead and loves the taste of human flesh. Their only real disadvantage is that they are rather impractically slow. I seriously doubt zombies of the classic Hollywood type could catch a hedge-hog, let alone a terrified human. Perhaps if we allow them a little more speed they too fit this category?

Whether you believe in the benevolent lycanthropes of early Medieval culture, or Jewish views of the seductive Lilith, or the predatory creatures of Hammer Horror, they fascinate most of us.

Getting back to Mauritius, of which I now have some knowledge, this island seems to regard werewolves as no more unusual than rain storm although they engender a much greater fear. A few things strike me about the Mauritian view:

1. The sightings are often most frequent just before, during or after a cyclone. Some claim (as quoted in the linked news report above) that these rumours are circulated by the government to deflect criticism away from their Prime Minister who claims a divine ability to stop Cyclones. If so, making the people even more terrified seems a bad tactic at a time of devastation.
2. Mauritius is not the only island subjected to tropical storms which has an endemic belief in this collection of supernatural beings. Haiti is regularly subjected to these storms and has some of the most fascinating zombie tales of all.
3. Mauritius is not the only former French colony to believe in these supernatural monsters – Haiti does too.
4. Mauritius is not the only Creole speaking community that believes in these creatures. Haiti does too.
5. Mautitius is not the only culture steeped in Voodoo that believes in these creatures. Haiti, and in fact most Caribbean islands do. Some of these use Creole too. Here is the Wikipedia page on Zombies in Haiti.

I think you probably see where I am going with this; rather than the standard view that fear of and belief in shape-changers and zombies comes from backward, third-world countries, are we looking at a belief culture that is being propagated from France – indeed the France of the middle ages?

I believe so. Furthermore, I speculate in my books, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, and The Devil’s Own Dice, that these creatures are born of the clash of two great cultures – the European and the Eastern which met like great tectonic plates in the Balkans and forced belief systems like Catharism into being some time between the 6th and 10th Centuries.

I do believe whatever forces brought up vampires, werewolves and zombies from the very uttermost depths of our souls, are still acting as well-springs of secret desires and fears today. I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?

Rewards for Reviews
I am reducing the price of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate to £2.99 for Christmas but I still need more reviews. I also need reviews for my new book Attack Hitler’s Bunker! As you will see further down in this blog post, I am planning a Video Blog Tour for both books soon and more reviews would certainly help persuade more people to try them. So, if you submit a review of either book to Amazon in December or January I will give over my blog for one day to you to post about your book, cd or any other product (within reason!) I will also include you in my Video Blog Tours which will provide you with loads of traffic and plenty of material to post about in the form of interviews. Two things you probably don’t know about these two books:
1) There is a pass called Pas de Loup near Rennes-le-Château which I feature in The Devil’s Own Dice. To the best of my knowledge this translates as Wolf Pass. No idea why it has that name.
2) I knew the Hollywood Oscar Winner Cliff Robertson towards the end of his life through a brief correspondence. He was a very skilled pilot and owned a Spitfire for many years. He was partly the inspiration for Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

So hurry up and get reviewing!

Short Stirling aircraft recovery
stirling
If you’ve been following my blog you will know that I write about, and am mad-keen on World War Two aircraft. I first came across the Short Stirling – the first British 4-engined bomber of WWII, when I made an Airfix model of it in my childhood. Since then I have often wanted to see a real one but there are no Short Stirlings left in the world. This seems a great shame to me. The Stirling Aircraft Society is doing its best to rectify this. Time is running out now for WWII aircraft wrecks that are viable restoration projects. After 70 years those left are mostly in the sea and too corroded to lift. The recent Dornier Do 17 lifted off the English coast may be one of the last that is raised. Let’s hope its not too late for the Stirling.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw a video on youtube showing a fairly intact example, dived on my a French team. I regularly scan the web for any news about Stirlings and hadn’t seen this. I watched it again and then immediately reported it to one of the senior members of The Stirling Aircraft Society. He told me he had seen it and tried to contact the divers but nobody had replied. Knowing how tricky it can be to communicate with youtube, I was determined to try and contact them myself. After a lot of googling and guess-work I found two email addresses and fired off two friendly emails. I received two enthusiastic replies and was able to put them in touch with the Society. Things are moving along now, with both teams working on identifying the aircraft so that the French Authorities can be contacted for permission to dive the wreck. I would be very happy if anything comes of this. Let’s hope so. If you want to watch the video, it’s here. The wreck is on its back but seems relatively intact and in shallow water. If you are interested in The Stirling Aircraft Society, they are here. As an interim measure the Society is attempting to build a replica of the forward fuselage section of a Stirling and you can read about it here. Short Stirlings feature heavily in my WWII action thriller Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Click on the menu item at the top of this page if you want to grab a copy!

Video Blog Tour
I am planning Video Blog Tours – or VBTs for both Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and Attack Hitler’s Bunker! soon. This will hopefully be a series of interviews I do about these books with the questions set by other blogs talking about related subjects. So if you are blogging about Vampires, Werewolves, WWII, the Luftwaffe, RAF, Short Stirlings or allied bombers of WWII please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. I am now following a long list of such blogs so if I don’t hear from you, I will be in touch!

Blog: Amazon Women on the Moon – Lazlo Ferran

This week: Walking in Buckinghamshire, Reviews, OCD update, Badger culling, Free Offers

Walking in Buckinghamshire
There is no sneak preview this week because the stuff I am working on is very complex and time-consuming. Hence I haven’t actually written that much. If I do sneak previews every week there would be no need to publish. Instead I will tell you about my ramble in the Chiltern Hills of Bucks on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. Originally I had intended to go on Saturday but it clouded over. The forecast said Sunday would be more completely overcast but warmer. In the end, there actually was some sun. The autumn leaves thickly carpet the ground now and bathed these ancient clay woods with a yellow light. I used to spend a lot of time there in my childhood but I don’t remember them looking more bewitching. Most were still in church so the woods were quiet although I had a strange incident. As I parked my car among those of the worshippers at a tiny church, the priest spotted me and said, “Ah! You!”.
He looked Asian which intrigued me; this area of Bucks is true-blue Conservative terrortory (ha! ha! Pun intended). I thought by the way he was talking that he must recognise me from my youth although this seemed very unlikely as I didn’t recognise him and I have a very good memory for faces. When I walked up to him, a crowd gathered around the ‘stranger’ and I asked, “Do you know me?”
He said, “No!”
I wanted to say, “What the fuck did you speak to me like that for then?” but I just said I remembered the place, and the priest, before his time. The onlookers relaxed and nodded with everything I said. I explained I was here to walk and that I had to leave. He mumbled something and seemed to physically reach out for me.
‘Desperate,’ I thought.
I walked away and heard others saying they, “Had to leave.” The crowd scattered and he was left alone.
I know the church is getting desperate – I am a believer but I don’t like the ritualised formality of Church – but why do they have to try desperate tactics like pretending they know you? It’s more like the sort of behaviour I expect from evangelical Born-Again Christians on Tottenham High Road.
Anyway the beauty of the woods soon relaxed me. The sun also came out and while walking along an old track I saw some mushrooms growing on a tree-stump. I had a clean, spare bag with me so I picked them up with this to take home for cooking. Later a woman walking her dog passed and smiled. Even later still she crept up on me and asked me if I was ‘mushrooming’. I had to deny it, explaining I had only picked half a handful. Funny that in this day and age you have to defend picking a few mushrooms. I have head of criminals being caught with 40 tonnes of topsoil containing blue-bells in May. They are the real criminals. But it was all good-natured on Saturday. As the sun began to set I started back towards my car. Imagine my surprise when I saw a dark brown butterfly or moth. I think it was a butterfly actually, but I can’t be sure. Either way to see large lepidoptera on 1 December is very unusual. Perhaps its not so cold an autumn as I thought. I also passed a line of very ancient cherry trees. These are some of the oldest in Britain and nobody is quite sure why they have lived so long or grown so tall. No longer yielding any berries, nevertheless they tower majestically some 80-100 feet above the main path. Normally its unusual for cherry trees to grow taller than a two-storey house. If you know of any similarly tall ones, let me know.
I did notice that the woodland quiet was rent by the squarkings of thousands of birds. Even the pigeons were singing at the top of their lungs. I have no idea why and its the first time I have noticed this.
Then it was back to the car and a nice drive home with a Snickers along the way to fill my hungry stomach.

Update: Despite thoroughly using all the websites I could find to identify the mushrooms, I could not do so. I had to throw them away; there are mushrooms which are so poisonous you have to have a kidney transplant to survive.

OCD update
I am now four weeks into the new course of intensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I must say doing it once per week instead of every three weeks is helping a lot. My therapist is not wasting time either. He is really encouraging me in getting to the root of the issue and I am even attempting ‘exposures’ myself. ‘Exposure’s are instances of attempting something you usually avoid when you have OCD. In the woods on Sunday I jumped off a fence and although I was wearing gloves, I had to put my hand down during a heavy landing and some mud got on my hands. Normally I would probably get pretty anxious about this but I left it (after checking there were no rabbit droppings on that patch of soil!). Later I cleaned my hand with some clean grass and that was it! When I returned home I didn’t even clean my hands before eating. This could be progress but we will see after I discuss it with my therapist. There was a funnier incident when, in the middle of some dense undergrowth, I found an old abandoned and collapsed shed with some kind of large, heavy bowl outside. It was full of black water and could have once been a tractor hub or something. In any case somebody – probably one of the gypsies who were frequent visitors in the 60s – probably used it as a stove. It was very heavy. I tried turning it over with my foot to see what it was. I couldn’t move it at first but then it moved slightly and spilled all its contents on my foot. Normally I would be horrified; after all there could be anything in that old water. This time I just accepted it as a test. I later thought of the phrase, ‘getting reinfected with reality’ to describe my feelings about it. I will keep you updated, as usual, with my OCD. If you suffer from OCD, or think you do, do not hesitate to seek help. There is plenty out there, even if you just google it on the web. Some websites offer self-help guides but you can get help for free on the NHS although the waiting lists are about 10 weeks at the moment. If you are not sure but think you might have OCD, these are some of my symptoms:
1. Obsessive and repeated washing of hands, accompanied by rituals
2. Fear of dust and germs
3. Anxiety when going outside unless wearing gloves
4. Generally repeating actions a lot to make sure you did them correctly
5. Episodes of Brain-block: this is where your mind gets stuck and you find it hard to start of finish an action. OCD sufferers often have great difficulty moving from ‘inactive’ activities (such as thinking, sleeping) to active activities (such as walking, moving)
6. Using rituals to avoid certain unpleasant thoughts.
This book by David Veale is excellent as a starter but do seek professional help: Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques. I may well do an OCD page in the near future with some useful resources.

Badger Culling
It seems that the two experimental culls have come up way short of the 70% fatality they were aiming at. For those not following this grim story, the Government led culls need to kill at least 70% of the badgers in any area to effectively wipe them out. Any less than this and the colony will survive. The hope is that even babies safe in the set will not survive if 70% of the whole group is not killed.
Of course the Government is claiming ‘illegal activity’ on behalf of protesters as the cause of the failure. Frankly, I don’t care as long as it stops. Killing innocent animals when an effective vaccine (just requiring a little more time and Government investment) is just around the corner is inhumane. Perhaps David Cameron and George Osborne are just hoping an excuse for a return to hunting is in the air?

Reviews
I have had some great reviews on Amazon lately. Here are two:

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate
Exciting read
In the genre of The Da Vinci Code, this is a good read. It is well plotted, very well researched & I liked the characters. If you liked the Da Vinci Code, you will like this book.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker!
Great read
Great concept.It really captured the dedication and spirit.Not to mention the bravery it took to stand up to the task of defeating an evil axis.

Free Offers
With the exception of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, And Attack Hitler’s Bunker!, all my kindle books will be free for periods between now and Christmas to give you a chance to give one as a present.

Other News
In case you’re wondering this title is from the excellent and very funny 1987 film. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. The title is also a reference to my issues with Amazon this week.
I have become weary of sellers on Amazon offering my paperback books at extortionate prices even up to £40 in one case. There are currently more copies on offer than I have actually sold. This means either sellers are offering them (including used and quoting the condition ) before actually buying them or buying them, tearing them apart, copying them and printing them.
I spoke to Amazon’s support about this and the representative said Amazon allows them to charge whatever they like for products and cannot prove if they like and has no way of checking whether they have actually bought the item or not. It seems they don’t even care if the item is a fake or illegal copy. He said the onus was on me to prove something illegal was going on and than to email copyright@amazon.com.
Consequently I have had to spend quite a bit of time getting a detailed royalty payment history from Createspace – who publish my books. I mentioned that Amazon own Createspace but was told it made no difference. They still couldn’t access the data on my behalf! Now I have emailed Amazon at the above email address with the detailed account history and list of the offenders I have found on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I have also emailed the sellers directly warning them of my actions (one of them – any_book removed the book immediately, another – gb_book is trying to, so they tell me! Another Pamaxs hasn’t responded). If you see these sellers, avoid them. I have also put up the prices of most of the books (older books and Iron I being the exceptions) to make it not worth while anybody copying one and selling it. If you are selling a paperback at a low price and it’s popular, watch out! Somebody might be copying it and selling it!
I guess for a writer publishing on Amazon, being independent means having no support at all!

Update: I just received Amazon’s reply (although I don’t understand it or their apparent lack of interest)
“Amazon respects a manufacturer’s right to enter into exclusive distribution agreements for its products. However, as the enforcement of these agreements is a matter of contract between the manufacturer and the distributors, it would not be appropriate for Amazon to assist in enforcing these agreements.”

Elsewhere
I was a big fan of Time Team in its early days. In recent years its got a bit too long in the tooth. I was fascinated by their Special programme on the 1066 Battlefield. I would love to see more like this. I only regret that they didn’t have enough time to do more than speculate that the actually centre of the battle was at the centre of Battle (no pun intended). Let’s hope they have another go soon. No evidence of the battle has ever been found but it has to be there somewhere.
I have also found the recent series on the Cold War fascinating. It’s very worth watching if you can get it on catch-up TV if only for the idea that Brent Cross shopping centre won Britain and the US the Cold War! The series has been good material for my current project (hint!). The presenter is a bit too pro-Maggie Thatcher for my liking; I am one of those who narrowly avoided a prison sentence for busking under her ‘iron’ rule. Many people suffered terribly and who can forget the pole-tax?

Blog: How to Commit the Perfect Murder – Lazlo Ferran

This week: How to Commit the Perfect Murder, Rant about Adespresso, updated bio, book price increases.

How to Commit the Perfect Murder
There is no Sneak Preview this week because I am still only slowly progressing with the latest book. If I excerpted every week you would soon have read all of it 🙂 Instead let me write about something which has preoccupied me this week and does for some time during most books I write. There is often a murder and one often has to think through just how the murderer in the book is going to handle it. There are many ways of murdering somebody so that it is unlikely you will be found out but very few people can or actually, do it in cold blood. It is more often done out of passion and on the spur of the moment ( it is more commonly state-sponsored executions that are planned). Serial Killers I won’t count here because they are not generally sane, usually psychopaths and don’t think rationally about what they are doing.

So my main character finds himself with a knife in his hand and the means, and motive, to kill somebody. It is war-time and you might think nobody will notice a missing person, or will care about a body in the street. But you would probably be wrong. Apart from cleaning up the crime scene (if he or she can do the deed) as best they can, the murderer will next have to consider either how to dispose of the body or how to conceal the act and make the death look natural. In my case (ie the character in my book, not me!) the latter is not possible, nor does the character need to fake his own death, but he does want to take the place of the deceased for a while. Therefore he needs to dispose of the victim.

Acid
Acid is of course one method but very difficult to execute: one needs to order large quantities of the acid, transport them, store them and have a device to fully immerse the body parts. You then have to dispose of the slush that results.

Immersion in water
Immersing in a fast flowing river or the sea is better.
This was my chosen method; in the murder’s location there are many ditches and canals. None of these are fast flowing. The next problem is therefore how to sink the body. Initially I just thought of using a sack of coal tied to the poor victim’s feet but this seemed at the same time too easy and  too dangerous. Where do you get the coal? Where do you get the sack? A crate suggested itself and then mud or stones. A combination might be quite good as long as all the soil doesn’t get washed out of the crate.

I had the person doing the concealing (who I must reveal here is not the murderer) using the victim’s belt to attach the crate to the body but then there is the question of whether the crate should be put on top of the body or underneath as an anchor.

Of course in time the body will rot. At first it will sink but then later it will tend to float. It’s hard for anybody doing the concealing to allow for thinks like tide, varying depths of water (in drought for instance), the action of boats, children, even animals chewing through the leather of the belt. Then there is flooding.

It’s a perplexing problem for the concealer and the writer too. The concealer can only hope that the body stays concealed long enough to decay beyond recognition. Of if at sea, that it gets washed out into the great oceans and decays there. I’m glad it’s not something I have ever had to consider for real and I hope I never have to.

Rant about Adespresso (http://www.adespresso.com/)
I tried out a so-called Beta package called Adespresso; software which allows you to compile advertising campaigns and post them to Facebook through the Facebook Ad API. It all looked good but first of all I received warnings saying that neither of my ads had posted! I received to notifications that the tech team were aware of the problem and would sort it quickly.
“Fair enough,” I thought.
Nothing happened and the campaign durations were almost at an end. Then I tried to contact the Adespresso team. The contact form didn’t work in Firefox or Chrome! I couldn’t believe it. I searched on the internet and found that it had the capability to import my existing ads from Facebook. This would be really useful so I resigned myself to the fact Adespresso didn’t work properly but could help me decipher my already-complete campaigns. I found the setting to import the campaigns and clicked the button. I had a jolly message telling me:
“Congratulations. It worked! You will be able to see the campaigns shortly.”
Did I, Hell! Nothing happened at all! I tried several times – nothing!
Oh- I did finally manage to submit the contact form – it only works in Internet Explorer. I thought such days were gone!

My assessment: Okay it didn’t cost me anything but they call it a Beta! Its more like an Alpha if you ask me and in reality its just a pretty web page that does absolutely nothing! Either they are very optimistic (about both their customers and their own capabilities) or very cynical. Its just possible of course they have bitten off more than they can chew but don’t want to admit it to their investors. I did see one of the campaigns appear in the Facebook Campaign dashboard so it’s hard to tell whether it is Facebook at fault, Adespresso or both.

Very disappointing. Avoid Adespresso.

Updated Biography
I have updated my biography across all websites to reflect the new fans I have gained in the Far East, Middle East, and Egypt. Welcome to all of you. I hope you find something of interest here.

Book Price Increases
I have had to put my book prices up – generally to around the £3.99 mark. This is partly because Amazon are charging me a ‘supply’ cost for my kindles of up to 15p each and partly because I think this is just a fairer price for my books. I hope we will soon be far enough out of the recession that people can easily afford these prices. It is very little for projects that take a year of my life. I will be keeping down the price of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate  to £0.99  for just a little while longer and Too Bright the Sun will stay at that price. Oh and by the way, the title of the blog this week is from a TV series and not a film.

Blog: The World Is Not Enough – Lazlo Ferran

This week: Para-Worlds, Social Network build and Free Offers.

Para-Worlds
I have spent most of this week defining a para-world. When I sit down to work on one of my literary projects now, I often feel hesitant: have I forgotten the thrust of the book; does what I am going to write fit into the world-view o the main character; oes the story express the world view I want to show. With about ten books published it is getting increasingly hard to keep track of the different world-views my stories encompass. moreover its becoming harder to invent new stories that are either so radically different from my existing ones that I don’t have to worry about any incongruity or ones that are similar enough to existing ones that I need to avoid the reader saying, “Hey, this doesn’t fit with that previous story – what’s going on?”

So I decided to think about coming up with a para-world which could encompass my sci-fi and fantasy stories. I am not exactly coining the term ‘para-world’ but I had better define what I mean. I mean by that a world that explains the unexplained elements of our own world; the hidden world as I see it if you like. Actually it is more like a hidden world as I see it; it is not the only view I have and is probably not the one I use in my day-to-day life.

I am not the first to try it either; Tolkien did it on a monumental scale; The Silmarillion can hardly be equaled for breadth of vision. I certainly don’t expect to equal it. I have come up with something though. To my delight I have found that it can accommodate most of what I am writing and most of what I have written. It does make me wonder a bit if it wasn’t there all the time without me knowing it. I have documented it and will develop it in the future. It may well remain a secret although bits of it will obviously seep out.

Social Network Build
If you follow my blog and read last week’s post, you will know that I am developing my own social network; I have the skills from my years in the IT industry and I may well have the will to do it now. Three of my friends have accounts now so that we can develop some ideas.

This week I added an email module to Drupal so that one can sign up on the test version without the admin having to unblock accounts. I also downloaded the Zen theme so that I can mess around with the look and feel. I have an idea or two to try and will probably develop them this week.

Free Offers
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be FREE on Amazon from 1-5 November for Halloween.
Attack Hitler’s Bunker! will be FREE on Amazon from 6-10 November. This will be its first free promotion so make sure you grab a free copy.

Elsewhere
Has anybody noticed that Eddie Jordan is looking more like Woody Allen every Formula 1 race? I would love to see Woody Allen commentate on F1. He would be even funnier as the pit-lane reporter.
David Coulthard: Woody, did you see that tyre change? What more can you tell us from the Ferrari pit?
Woody: Jake? Is that you? I am having a… what’s the name… a panic attack! Oh my god! This woman with something above an F-cup just walked up to me and asked me for her autograph. She thought I was Niki Lauda.
David Coulthard: I see. That’s great, Woody.
Woody: Yeah, it would be but she didn’t have a pen. She didn’t have paper either but she wanted me to sign her thigh. Needless to say I left my pen in the ladies toilet. I could hardly say, “Come with me and I’ll take you to my pen!”
David: How did it get left in the ladies loos?
Woody: Yeah. Well, that’s another story… Anyway, turns out she’s a psychotherapist so I think I got it made!
David: Thanks Woody for the latest from the pit-lane.

For me, F1 is getting very boring. I rarely even make the effort to watch now. Apart from the domination by a young man who has been spoiled into thinking he is the best, the technology has become somewhat stagnant. I look forward to the return of turbos next year.

I also wish Valentino the best in tomorrow’s MotoGP. Great that Hayden made it onto the front row, a very rare thing for Ducati these days. They really need to get their company philosophy sorted out. Do they want to be the best small manufacturer out there or an average medium-sized manufacturer? Also, it was a terrible error for Marquez last week but he is young: you can’t go through a rookie season without a few big mistakes.

Blog: Best Seller

This week: Stats from FREE Promo, sneak preview from Escher’s Stairs and another FREE OFFER. This week’s title is from an obscure movie but starred James Woods and Brian Denehy, both great actors. What happened to Woods after that recent Lawyer series?

Best Seller
BookCoverPreviewThe big news this week is that I had over 2500 downloads of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate last week during it’s free promotion during which it made it all the way up to #74 in the Amazon US Best Sellers lists!! I can hardly believe it. Anyway more of that in a moment but don’t despair; the sneak preview is below this section this week.

First of all, my apologies for the late post this week. I was so busy trying to keep up with the unexpected high downloads of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate; staying up all night to see how high it reached in the ranking and tweeting about the success in every language I could manage, that I didn’t have time to post. I really wish Amazon had a more logical system for feedback on how well your book is selling.
After some research I have found that it actually reached #74 and not #82 as originally posted. It was probably for a few minutes and there is no way of seeing this unless Amazon report it as they did in this case. See image below:

74rank

As I mentioned, one has to stay up all night to be sure you see your highest ranking, and, if you are lucky, see how high it gets in both the Best Sellers ranking and the Top 100 Free Kindles ranking. I made the mistake of not keeping an eye on things last time and I wasn’t goint to make the same mistake twice. Unfortunately my book never made it into the Top 100 Free Kindle lists on the Amazon website which is very odd because number one on the web page listing was only #119 in the rankings and number two was only #1500!! Confused? I am. I did however make it to #74 in the Best Sellers ranking but again this didn’t show up on the website. Furthermore there are books that are always in the Top 100 Free Kindle list. I am not sure how this is possible so I emailed their support and this was their reply:

“We have minimum list prices that we require to accept KDP books for sale on the Kindle Store. However, sometimes we match free promotions on other sales channels, and we may do that in the future for this or other titles.
We’re sorry we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. We will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.”

Hm, very helpful!
I think it’s possible 1) these authors have died, 2) They have renounced their rights to the work and thus it is in the Public Domain, 3) The book is free elsewhere and Amazon is simply price-matching. I want to offer my first set of short stories for free permanently to draw in new readers (it would be a loss-leader) and method 3) seems to be the only one available to me. So I have made the first set of short stories free on smashwords.com. So far Amazon hasn’t price matched this but I will wait and see.

Anyway for the records here are the download figures for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate:

US 2495
UK 46
Germany 17
France 4
Spain 1
Italy 3
Japan 1
India 3
Canada 8
Brazil 1

Total 2579

Since the sale ended I have had 15 sales of the book at the £2.99 rate (and about 4 sales of other books).

I am still not quite sure how the downloads took off so fast. Until the third day I had reached about 150 downloads but the curve was tapering off and I was a little disappointed. I decided on the Sunday to pay for a Facebook advert and started this late that night. Until Monday afternoon it had made little difference. I went to get something to eat and when I came back there had been 150 new downloads. I can only guess that something viral happened or perhaps the timing was right in America. As you can see, almost all of the downloads were in the USA. I find Facebook adverts a bit hit-and-miss; my first one wasn’t really good value for money but this one was- perhaps due to luck. If I sell a few more books I will have made back the money I spent and then it will all be profit!

Sneak Preview
This week’s sneak preview is the last from Escher’s Staircase. It’s from the section; Monk. It’s almost the only passage I can post here safely; the erotic content of the rest is far too erotic for the general public. If you like erotic literature, wait until the book is released and then download it! It should be out by the end of the year. I am still not sure if Amazon will ban it or not; the content guidelines say simply:

Pornography
We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

What the hell does any of that mean? My book is not pornography but serious literature. Furthermore they do carry books like Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Ada by Nabokov, both of which contain references to incest and other taboo sexual subjects. I don’t think my book is more offensive than these. What worries me is that Amazon might delete all my books as punishment before giving me a fair hearing, simply because I am not well-known. If any other writers have had to deal with such content on Amazon or anybody else has any suggestions, please get in touch.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

Whereas the men had not much spare material to construct the pew, they had made it short and consequently the two of us had to sit and kneel close together. Thus it was I could hear each one of her gentle breaths as we prayed.
During one particularly miserable evening, with heavy rain pattering on the wet linen roof, I thought I heard her weeping. I continued to pray but part of me was listening and then I knew it; she was weeping. This was the more surprising since I had come to think of her as a hard woman, belied by her gentle looks. Now I had the almost irresistible urge to look at her. It was however impossible for me to comfort her. Our vows did not permit such interactions between a monk and nun, unless it were in confession.
This weeping reoccurred several times during prayer over the next few days until I could stand it no longer. We were always alone during prayer – the lay brothers were not permitted to pray at the same time as we, so I suddenly turned to her:
“What is ailing you, Sister?” I sounded almost angry. This I regretted.
“It is nothing, Brother. I am old, an infirm. I am prone to various pains and ills. I… I… No, it doesn’t matter.”
Her reply irritated me more than if she had kept silent. Now there were questions in my mind. I tried to dismiss these but they persisted. They began to have a life of their own. It was not long before I found myself having tender feelings towards the Sister. This was confirmed to my conscious mind during an encounter she had with one of the other Sisters.
“What are you doing, Sister Agnes?” she admonished. “That bucket is too full! You are spilling half of it. If it is too heavy for you to carry, get one of the other sisters to help you, or lighten the load!”
“Yes, Sister Justyne!”
Though the girl looked hurt by the rebuke, I felt angry with her, and not Sister Justyne.
‘This is not good!’ I told myself. I began to think about talking to the Abbot about my feelings.
That evening, we both prayed as usual. I recited the Lord’s Prayer, which I usually did first, when I thought I felt something on my hand. I assumed it was a fly and attempted to flick it off. Then I knew it was something bigger. I finished the prayer with some difficulty and glanced to my left. Sister Justyne’s hand was against mine and again she was weeping. Instantly I felt my member stand to attention. I was shocked. I hadn’t felt this for so long that I believed it would never happen again.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
“We are old,” she whispered. I sometimes wonder how it is women managed to make pithy remarks which somehow seem self-evident. If law courts made decisions purely based on verbal delivery women would make the best lawyers. For a moment I could not think of a suitable response. Then I nodded. I looked into her brown eyes. She held my gaze and for just a moment I believed that what we did was not wrong. It’s effect was like a rock entering a pool. The ripples spread through my soul until the calm water was once again a living, vibrant body of water. I finished praying and somewhat abruptly left for the security of my cell. I prayed right through the night for my own soul. However I did not mention it or confess. I didn’t even believe my own prayers that night.
The following day she grew bolder. I had hardly begun to pray when she took hold of my hand. Hers was cool to the touch but it was so delicate that I felt a welling of emotion. I clasped her own hand between my own and continued to pray. I was praying for both of us. I have to admit that I gave her little hand a tiny squeeze before finally releasing it. Now I was an accomplice. There was no going back. I didn’t even pray for our souls that night and went to work the following day almost sanguine about our secret alliance.

Other News
The Ice Boat Volume I is now FREE until 11 September. It’s my earliest major work; it has many faults but I think it’s of value so download it and give it a go. I have now relocated the manuscript for Volume II so that will be published one day.
I am within a day or two of finishing Escher’s Staircase, at last! This has been a pet project I worked on between other projects, on and off for the last two years. At first it was simply a sketch, then a series of sketches before I realised it might actually make a complete story. it still needs a lot of work but at least I can send an initial draft to two test readers. It has a lot of erotic content but this is not the heart of the book. That is a non-dimensional odyssey of consciousness for one man.
In the next few days I will do the final corrections on Attack Hitler’s Bunker! and then it will be published. The cover is already complete.