…no, Authors… writing PERFECTION is NOT your objective…

…blasphemy?… heresy?… ravings of a mad writer?… signs of an author finally succumbing to the madness that years of tilting at imaginary characters bring?… that this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler should posit that the purpose of creative writing is NOT to achieve perfection?… p’raps, Mabel, but just hold on a minute with that frantic phone call to the lunatic asylum to come and cart me away… in a lifetime of reading, my choices of literature have been as broad as can be… Steinbeck, O’Hara, Ruark, Christie, Dickens, Eco, Fitzgerald, Child, Austen, Churchill, Burns, Chaucer… an endless list of library index heroes… every name there acknowledged as classic in his or her own metier, regardless of genre… sparkling storytellers all… but equally, I have noted in many instances, flaws, sum’times, in their narratives… incomplete closure on certain endings… use of language occasionally misplaced… part of that may be attributed to less than splendid editing, but the result in these instances is … LESS THAN PERFECTION… and did it impinge negatively on my pleasure in reading them?… not one jot!… y’see, the skill in expression, the art of spinning the tale, of enticing me into their stories, of hypnotizing me into page after page is the real essence of the writer’s grail…

…of course, as a novelist myself, I try assiduously to keep my writing as free as possible from glaring grammatical or tautological error… but the primary objective is to have the reader step into the imaginary world I create… and the world itself is not prefect… over the past ten years, I have reviewed certain books by other authors… initially I would pick up on small and sum’times not so small issues in the writing… but after a while, I dismissed these and carried on with ‘getting absorbed in’ the tale… and how much better has become my enjoyment of their wee masterpieces… I read sum’where else a while ago that Life is not a Game of Prefect’… my writing is a major part of my life… ergo, My Writing is not a Game of Perfect either… thoughts, good people?…  see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…ambition – to be the youngest centenarian ever… whaaa???

…I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘Age’ and ‘Ageism’ are two of the vilest inventions that Man has ever devised… by charting the passage of time vis-a-vis how long I’ve been physically on the planet brings a mountain of potential booby traps… scientifically, I will not deny that bodily change occurs in every human being… but there’s too much emphasis on specific numbers that tick off the pile of years that I’ve survived thus far… it’s not a race to the grave… I know when any such contrived ‘race’ started for me… its called the Date of my Birth, but I have no desire to guesstimate when the ‘End Date’ is supposed to be…  my comedic God, (now Sir) Billy Connolly says, ‘don’t call me middle-aged, ‘coz that presumes I’m half way to that as yet unknown ‘End Date’… another of his other beautiful epithets covers ‘Acting your age … well, like him, I’ve never been this age before, so I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to ‘act’ it… LIVING IT IS THE THING!... when I was in my teens and twenties, I regarded folks of forty and fifty as ‘old’… then when I sailed through my own fortieth and fiftieth notches, they didn’t seem so ‘ancient’ after all… now that I’m sailing the post-sixty waters, it seems even less decrepit and crumbly… my brain still harbours enuff of the wee grey cells to let me laff and even scoff at the stupidity of ‘Ageism’…  I began writing my Jack Calder crime thrillers after my sixtieth birthday, and five of these are on Kindle, with a sixth as WIP… not bad for a guy who’s ‘past it’… I’ve retired three times in my career, but like the Mafia, ‘you try to get out, and they pull you back in again’...

 

…still happily gainfully active with my own corporate advisory firm for banks and companies in the Middle East… my writing expands apace, having added the ghostwriting of autobiographies and family histories to my activities… so, whatever the ‘Use By Date’ was, it means bollix to me, Mabel… my ambition is to be the youngest centenarian ever... see yeez later.. LUV YEEZ!

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…when a ‘well done’ steak may be, well, not so ‘well done’…

…ever since my first taste of real steak, when I was around twenty years old (in Docklands Govan in Glasgow, where I grew up, steak was an unaffordable luxury), I have relished the texture of a steak cooked medium-well… usually accompanied back then by spud-sack loads of chips (I never knew they were called ‘French Fries’ until I left Scotland to work as a Trainee Financial Master of the Universe in London’s Lombard Street), and attended also by a solid helping of green peas, and the mandatory lashings of HP Brown Sauce

…fast forward when the callow Govan youth had metamorphosed into a globe-trotting banking executive, and I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in some of the best restaurants in the WURLD (all on the corporate expense ticket, of course)… included in that was a memorable business trip to the prestigious Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland...

…accompanying me on the trip was an American colleague, whose taste in food ran all the way from steaks to… erm, steaks… the waiter in the restaurant resembled a cross between a relative of the Addams family and a scarecrow… his jacket sleeves were a third of the way up his arms, and his trouser legs ended about four inches above the top of his socks… thick, streaky brownish-blond hair swept back from his brow in a front to back comb-over… a once seen, never forgotten image…

…my friend ordered a steak- ‘well done’... in due course when it arrived, it was sum’where twixt rare and medium… my man called over the garçon and bid him return to the kitchen to get the steak ‘done right – well done’… it came back a  little while later, but still nowhere near the conventional ‘well done’ one might expect elsewhere… my companion, in exasperation, said to the waiter, “I asked for ‘well done’ – this isn’t ‘well done’ – what is THAT?”.. the man didn’t blink an eyelid and condescendingly uttered the immortal line, with a sneer worthy of the best put-downers in history, “Sir, THAT’S how we do ‘well done’ at the Bar au Lac!” and promptly sauntered off, stage left… my friend spluttered all the way through the balance of his meal, while I tried to hide my smiles… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…a tale of two pussies, and a favourite Authoress, Jane Wenham-Jones…

…my, how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself, eh, Mabel?… fully ten years ago, when this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler was staring into the unknown, but beckoning, abyss of self -publishing, I had the great pleasure to meet a wunnerful character, Authoress Jane Wenham-Jones, a kindred spirit in writing and assorted daftness… I travelled especially  from the Middle East  to Deepest, Darkest London, where she and I had lunch… I’ve LUVVED her ever since, as well as her terrific b0oks… today she graces this ‘ere blog with a Guest Post announcing her latest tour de force, MUM IN THE MIDDLE… enjoy…

Thank you for having me, Seumas!

I first got to know this lovely chap back in 2008 when he emailed me to say he’d enjoyed my first non-fiction book Wannabe a Writer?https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wannabe-Writer-hilarious-informative-published-ebook/dp/B008J0BTGW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 and wanted to take me to out to lunch. I was his third choice of lunch companion, he added winningly – Billy Connolly and Sir Alex Ferguson had turned him down.

I am not usually in the habit of rushing off to meet strange men (and some of them who email are most peculiar! See the book’s sequel Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of   https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wannabe-Writer-Secrets-Success-Writing-ebook/dp/B008HJBXNE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 and the chapter entitled Nutters & Weirdos) but his email made me laugh and I had a good feeling about the encounter. Always trust your instincts.

We met on Friday 13th.  Seumas pitched up bearing not only a touching number of my own books for me to sign, but a cuddly, black cat to quell my superstitions. I have him still.

He lives in my car (currently a mid-life crisis vehicle – a Mazda MX5 of which I am extremely fond) and I like to think he keeps me safe as I whiz about. I have a real black cat these days as well who trashes my office, brings in field mice at one a.m. and is called Nugget. That’s a photo of him with me above, allowing me to hold him.

In the intervening years since that first lunch, when Seumas was quizzing me on the whole publishing process, describing himself as a dinosaur when it came to the internet, he’s become a blogging superstar and has finished more books than I have.

My latest novel Mum in the Middle  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mum-Middle-Feel-funny-unforgettable-ebook/dp/B077ZNWD34/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8  was a long time in the making – during a period of time when real life frequently, and not always happily, got in the way – and is the first new tome I’ve published since 2014. I had forgotten how thrilling it is.

The paperback is not out until September but the ebook is alive and kicking now, at the bargain basement promotional price of 99p. It’s the story of Tess – one of the stretched generation with adult kids still needing financial support at one end and elderly parents kicking off at the other. Described by one kind reader as part romance, part mystery, part family drama, it deals with the themes of DFLs (Down from London) and the effects on communities when new rail links mean the commuters move in, and is partly set around a local newspaper. (Write what you know, they told me!)

Reactions have mainly been positive, but not always. One reviewer was outraged that a book billed as “hilarious”, features a mother with the early stages of dementia. She refused to read more than 5% of it as a result. I was sorry she had been upset. In fact, I do not make any jokes about that hideous disease – although I have always used black humour to get me through – but saw it as the serious strand to the novel. I drew on my experiences of being Lasting Power of Attorney to an aunt with Dementia with Lewys Bodies. Shelagh was an author herself, spoke fluent Greek, did the Times crossword daily, and still swam, walked miles and went to dance classes in her seventies.

She was immensely distressed by the diagnosis and did not want to live long enough for the disease to take hold. Unfortunately it progressed too fast for us to help her execute her wishes. She would have been mortified to see herself as she is today. There is nothing funny about any of that.

There was, however –  I hoped – comedy to be had in the slightly manic life of Tess who is supposed to having “me” time but instead, is frequently running in circles. Again – I wrote what I knew.  If you have 99p to spare, I’d love to know if it resonates with you.

www.janewenham-jones.com

www.wannabeawriter.com

@JaneWenhamJones

www.facebook.com/JaneWenhamJonesAuthor

www.instagram.com/jwenhamjones

…as ever, m’Lady, Jane, I’m indebted to you… you really have no idea how much encouragement and added motivation you gave me through that first lunch meeting… another way of saying that is : YOU’RE TO BLAME!… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…AUTHORS… why do YOU write?…

…I’m led to believe that in a protracted game of chess, from start to finish, there may be possible combinations of moves amounting to billions… given the number of books that have been written since Man first discovered how to put WURDS on to stone, paper, typewriters , and computing devices, that figure of billions could easily be surpassed by the aggregate combinations of stories and narratives produced over the millennia…

…it’s not a difficult step from that suggestion to surmise there are prob’ly countless reasons why anyone in particular may want to ‘write’… when this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler first began to write seriously, about a decade ago, never having written a novel before, my primary urge was merely to see if I could actually produce and complete a whole book… little did I know what lay in store… the first time I wrote ‘The End’, an overwhelming elation descended on me… I felt I was floating three feet above the floor… that ‘pink cloud’ sensation has never totally receded… ten years later, with five Jack Calder crime thrillers in the bag, I’m just beginning to understand the powerful force of attraction for we penspeople… it’s certainly not about money… if anyone ever told you that as an author you would become exceedingly rich, then you were appallingly misled

…writing for me has provided a hitherto unknown oasis against the madness of the universe… a mental sanctuary to which I retreat on a daily basis… the pleasure of creating sum’thing from my own grey cells is a regular triumph… which underlines the fact that I write, first and foremost, for ME… if anyone else derives pleasure from it, that’s a bonus… and here’s the added positive kicker – whatever else I may pretend to be to the outside WURLD, be it as a corporate advisory genius, or as a Financial Master of the Universe, or as any other professional persona, at heart I AM A WRITER… and I LUV IT! see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…the mystery of 1950s foodstuffs in Docklands, Govan in Glasgow…

…over the years, Master Gallacher’s career has brought him around the planet to no less than four continents across several decades… of the many different and fascinating experiences that have been thrown his way, none are more interesting than the various samplings of food served in other countries than his own, native Scotland… Hong Kong gave me the delights of eating snake steaks

…not unlike enlarged eel cutlets, usually submerged in a piquant soup, and utterly delicious on a cold winter’s day, in what was then a British colony (temperatures in January often flirted with freezing there)… a few hours flight thence, in Singapore and Malaysia, many crab and lobster dishes were strewn with fiercely hot chilli peppers… not for the timid of palate…

…in the Philippines, newly-incoming, foreign residents were compelled to tackle balut, a half-developed, bird embryo, boiled and eaten from the shell, still half-grown, half-baby bird, the beak sum’times providing hard nibbles to digest…

…strange as these menu items may seem, when I was a lad growing up in Docklands, Govan in Glasgow, certain food items were no less mysterious in their genesis… for example, until about the age of ten, I believed that strawberries grew in tin cans, complete with delicious sugary syrup, the contents eked from one small can into p’raps four serving bowls for me and my siblings, with the ultimate gourmand’s addition of Carnation-brand condensed milk…

…scrumptious!… this delicacy appeared on the rare occasions when my father’s occasional sixpenny flutter on the nags yielded enuff for my mother to splash out at the corner store… other prized servings included bread doorstops (the crusty-end, black bits of the plain sliced bread loaf) fried in lard… little wonder Scotland has one of the highest incidences of heart disease on the planet… fruit was an endangered species in Govan… but dollops of hot porridge oats with milk and sugar or salt set us off to school inured against many a freezing Glasgow morning…

…and always, regardless of the season, the ubiquitous, constant pot of soup/broth/mince/mutton/hot-pot, added to as the week progressed with potatoes, lentils, barley, and whatever other food scraps arrived in the house… the Gallacher appetite for foreign foods is easier to understand with the splendid Govan gourmet grounding… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…an excellent Guest Blog, this time from my dear friend, authoress, Dedra L. Stevenson…

…my dear friend here in the Middle East, Dedra L. Stevenson, is a prolific pan-genre authoress… enjoy her post …

Dedra L. Stevenson, author of the acclaimed trilogy, The Hakima’s Tale.

Creating a ‘Whole New World” as a Fantasy Fiction Author

My name is Dedra L. Stevenson, and I’m a multi-genre author and an emerging filmmaker.  My books cover Courtroom Drama, Horror, Children’s stories, and even the Culinary Arts, but it was my greatest love, Fantasy Fiction, that started everything for me.

 

The Hakima’s Tale: The Revenge of the Blue Jinniwas my first book, one that took me into another world and inspired me to create characters unlike any that the world has ever seen, including a villain that you can hate while admitting that he makes sense sometimes.

Coming up with the character of Phoenix was a really fun challenge.  At that time, the Harry Potter books were really taking off, so I didn’t want to make my protagonist a boy. I really believed in my heart that we needed a girl to save the world and fight the forces of darkness for a change.  Also, why should the priests have all the fun? In the Middle East, we really wanted to have the chance to chase away something sinister, using our ways, as told by Arabic folklore.

Although the famous collection of stories, 1001 Arabian Nights, isn’t at all appropriate for kids, it does give us an idea of how much of a role the Jinn play in Arabic folklore.  For those in the Western world, let me just remind you that the Jinn are not as Disney has portrayed.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a huge fan of Disney’s, Aladdin!

However, the Blue Jinni in the beloved Disney movie is nothing like what a Jinni would be portrayed as by an Arab.  The Jinn (plural) are beings made of smokeless fire (as described by the Holy Koran) and they reside in another dimension, but can enter our dimension at will, although they are “technically” not allowed to interfere with our lives.  In spite of this, some do just that, as they torment human homes by tormenting residents with actions that one may typically describe as a “haunting”.

They have tribes, families and religions, just like us, and that means that some are friendly and don’t wish us any harm at all. In fact, it’s said that some people have Jinn followers that help them.  For example, if you’ve ever lost your keys and “magically” found them somewhere obvious, you may have been assisted by a Jinni.

Like humans, they have been granted free will, and can choose to be good or bad, unlike Angels who have no choice but to be good. It’s the bad ones that we have to worry about, especially the fierce ones.

Sometimes they manifest in the form of people, but mostly as animals or shadows. Two of their most common forms are the snake and the black dog. You may find that unnerving, to know that a person may, in fact, be a Jinni, but it’s said that there are a few ways that you’d be able to identify them.

They are mostly either unusually small or tall, even for a human, and there’s always something “off” about their eyes and feet, as sometimes they can disguise their cat’s eyes and hooves for feet, and sometimes they cannot.

Of course, in The Revenge of the Blue Jinni, I was given the chance to “amplify” their abilities.  That’s an author’s privilege. As a resident of the Middle East and a believing Muslim, I believe the Jinn to be a reality, and their presence explains most supernatural phenomenon, but it’s clear that the Jinn don’t do most of the things that I say they do in The Revenge of the Blue Jinni.

Creating a fantasy world for my characters means creating a world that “could be” possible within the bounds of one’s own imagination and what we know to be true about the subject.   Your story doesn’t have to be true of course, but there should be elements of truth woven into the pages to make it sound feasible.  There’s already 2 billion people on the planet that believe in the existence of these beings, and there’s already been one famous written work that makes them larger than life, 1001 Arabian Nights, so as the author, I simply had to use our established beliefs as a basis for their existence, and will their additional abilities into existence through their descriptions.

The Blue Jinni is the villain of The Hakima’s Tale trilogy, and as their supreme leader, he had to resemble tyrannical leaders that we have experienced in the human world. As a Jinni, he can be invisible, can occupy inanimate objects and possess people, and he has an inherent jealousy of the human species.  He’s helped the mighty King Ghalib (also a fictitious character) to defeat rebellious human tribes, so he already knows our weaknesses.  Although he respected the King tremendously, he became increasingly more and more disenchanted with “us”, humans, and became convinced that we don’t deserve this position of dominance that we’ve been granted.

Well, come on, one must admit, especially given the current state of things on planet Earth, that he may actually have a point. Humans, as a whole, haven’t proven to be very worthy of their status. Of course, as with any maniacal villain, his plans for cleansing the Earth are morally reprehensible.

As for his abilities, the Blue Jinni can wield storms of a natural disaster variety, cause people and objects to thought travel, and move great amounts of land from one place to another. His impressive abilities are restricted by the King and this causes a great deal of resentment. Of course, as with any story of one with unresolved power and repressed abilities, the result isn’t good for people.

His mighty generals, Coulda, Bafeemus and Angrit are in charge of building his empire while he’s imprisoned in his lantern at the bottom of the sea.  They are also charged with finding him each time the planets align and enabling his release. These three are equally monstrous, but Coulda assumes command.  I chose these names for my Jinn generals because they don’t resemble any names from human nationalities.  After all, they aren’t human, and the whole “separation of people by nationality” is considered ridiculous by them, and of course, a human weakness. Therefore, it was quite important for me to name them something that doesn’t sound like anything we know.  They aren’t Arab.  They aren’t American or European.  They are Jinn, and that’s it.

 

Coulda is a reptilian looking creature capable of flight, even flight into outer space.  He can influence thought and appear as reptile like creatures. Bafeemus is “Brute-like” and resembles what one may think of as a muscle bound demon, with a bald head, jagged teeth and bulging eyes. He’s not smart, but he makes up for his lack of smarts in brute strength, and the ability to thought travel. Angrit has a lion-like appearance, and although he’s terrifying in appearance, he’s the nobler of the three. He can appear as any animal form at all, except the Wolf. The wolf is said to be the only animal that can kill a Jinni, so for centuries, he searched for a way to not only appear as a wolf, but a way to command wolves.  Finally, he and the other generals acquire the mask of Anubis and get this long desired ability.  In the Rise of the Warrior, this acquisition comes under threat from Phoenix Kassim, the protagonist of The Hakima’s Tale.

Writing these characters was fun, and it’s interesting that I’ve not been asked as much about them in interviews regarding The Hakima’s Tale trilogy.  I’ve been mostly asked about Phoenix, which is only natural, since she’s the star of the trilogy, but I’m very happy to have the chance to talk about my bad guys for a change, because authors infuse a tiny bit of themselves into each character they build, even the villains, so they are also part of me, just as Phoenix is, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love reading about a fabulous maniacal mass murdering psycho that truly believes he’s doing a service?

The Hakima’s Tale books are available as E books, Paperback, or Audio books via Audible.com. They are particularly fun to listen to in the car!

 

If you’d like to check out my work, log on to www.dedralstevenson.com or www.bluejinnimedia.com and have a look.  I have the three books of The Hakima’s Tale, a Courtroom drama called, Desert Magnolia (that’s been called a modern day, To Kill A Mockingbird), a collection of short stories called Tales of the Lantern, and a horror called, The Skinwalker Resurrection. Additionally, I’ve just completed an international cookbook called Breaking Bread Around the World and an award winning short documentary, Lemonade, that will soon be available on the sight. I’ve got plans for a whole lot more, so sign up for our newsletter and join me on social media!  Here are my links:

https://www.facebook.com/Hakimastale/

https://www.instagram.com/dedrastevenson/

https://www.dedralstevenson

Twitter handle:  @Hakimastale

Stay in touch and keep the magic alive!

…thanks gazillions for sharing with us, m’Lady, Dedra … see yeez late… LUV YEEZ!

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