Mystic blue embraces all,
Giving thanks for peace.
Lone tree, spirit strong
Bedecked with icy jewels
Awaiting warm Spring.
Mystic blue embraces all,
Giving thanks for peace.
Lone tree, spirit strong
Bedecked with icy jewels
Awaiting warm Spring.
Wouldn’t our existence be monotonous and bland if we didn’t share our lives, thoughts, events and experiences? Sharing with family and friends is at the core of living and so it is with books.
Finishing a book I am always keen to talk about it with a person close to me, chatting away about the story, the characters development and the emotions evoked. At times (not nearly often enough!) I take a step further and with joy review the book and as a writer, I fully appreciate what this means to fellow authors.
Personally, I treasure every single review! I’m uplifted and heartened by this precious gift of time and energy. This is true for one recent review for my book “The Storyteller Speaks” and within a few paragraphs it delivered a positive punch to my spirits. It is an incredible feeling when someone is deeply touched and affected by one’s work and a terrific boost to one’s writely self. I promise that being mentioned in the same sentence with the outstanding Alice Munro has not gone to my head!
“The Storyteller Speaks” is a beautifully written book of timeless stories, poetry and flash fiction.
Annika Perry writes a carefully constructed, powerful, multi-layered story. She skilfully foreshadows events and a life less than ordinary.
Annika Perry has the gift of a true story teller. She engages the reader to emotionally connect with the characters and stories: My heart aches for an inconsolable child. I have an unexpected visceral reaction to an accident. I am transported to the exact moment in time where I hear the silence. I realize courage can come in many colours. I am moved by the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
“The Storyteller Speaks” reminds me of the powerful stories written by Alice Munro. They are stories that never leave me. The words forever change me. I continue to savour these stories, of ordinary people living a remarkable life. I highly recommend “The Storyteller Speaks.”
Review by Erica Henault on Goodreads
Many thanks to Erica for her review and in the time I’ve known her I value her warm friendship, honesty and humour. Her love of life, family and friends shines through her wonderful and inspirational blog at Behind the Scenery ‘Grateful for the Present Moment’. Do take a closer look at her posts as they brim with her passion of ‘… sharing new perspectives with each other and learning from each other … always observing and paying attention, especially to the lessons that begin in whispers, lessons that get louder and louder.’
“Infinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and, above all, our love.” William Simon
*Quote from Erica Henault’s review of “The Storyteller Speaks”.
Christmas and its songs will be more poignant than ever this year. In unprecedented times we cling onto traditions as a boat to its anchor, aware of the storms, trying to ride them out, knowing the anchor will hold. Life will prevail and calm will return.
As we prepare for a very different Christmas I am fortunate that my family and friends are all safe. We, like so many, will celebrate within our smaller existing group and look forward to a larger family gathering in the summer instead.
For now, the house begins to glow with the warmth of the light of the season’s decorations. The star adorns the window and is a beacon of hope, I trust.
Music ties us to other times in our lives when we first heard the tune, the emotional connections an inherent part of us. Carols and Christmas songs are even more so and they are a major feature this time of year. I would like to share eight of my favourites Christmas songs with you.
Christmas during my early childhood was celebrated every year at my grandparent’s house in Sweden. It was a joyful bustling affair with up to thirty family members on Christmas Eve (this being the time for family celebrations to start in the afternoon with presents later in the early evening). Although it seemed to take forever for everyone to eat before Jultomten (Father Christmas) arrived there were lots of games, songs and dances to entertain the children.
One of my favourite songs involved everyone holding hands, dancing around the Christmas Tree and house (this was literally possible inside!) whilst singing ‘Nu är det jul igen’ /‘Now it’s Christmas again’. The ensuing chaos was hysterical and would involve us falling to the floor in fits of giggles!
The next song suited my twelve-year-old angst-ridden self perfectly. At school, we were learning about the First World War and I was deeply moved about life in the trenches for the soldiers. ‘Stop the Cavalry’ starts in the voice of one soldier before the song swiftly changes to the Cold War era of the 1980s with references to nuclear fallout, a very real and credible threat.
I played ‘Stop the Cavalry’ by Jona Lewis incessantly the December of its release until my brother for the sake of his and the family’s sanity took the single into hiding for a month!
Since living in England in the late 1970s we always have a quiet moment of reflection during the festivities and early on Christmas Eve afternoon the TV will be on to listen to the opening solo tones of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ held at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.
This is part of ‘A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ and was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now watched by millions of people around the world.
Christmas is also a time is one of joy and fun, so what could be better than a bop to ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ by Boney M. Anytime this comes on the radio I have to down the pen/wooden spoon/iron/book and dance around, singing away. Do join in!
I discovered my next favourite Christmas song three years ago whilst researching a blog post one winter. It immediately became popular with many followers and I’m sure you’ll recognise it. Click here to see the post and read the lyrics translated into English.
The theme of ‘Tänd ett ljus’ /‘Light a Candle’ is that Christmas will light a candle as a symbol of hope for a better world and it was recorded by Swedish band Triad in 1987. The outro includes Christmas and New Year’s greetings in different languages. The finger-snapping is hypnotising and the a cappella mesmerising. One can’t help but try and ‘dom dom dom’ along!
For many years it was not Christmas unless the Elvis Presley movies were showing every morning! We’d rush down, half asleep and enjoy a relaxing and musical viewing! It seemed to be the unwritten rule that these were part and parcel of the season!
Of course Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ is as popular as ever and although about unrequited love it captures the sadder side of being apart at this time of year.
Christmas of 1984 is memorable for the amazing work of Bob Geldof (lyrics) and Midge Ure (Music) to create ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ Bob Geldof put together the supergroup Band Aid for the event.
As a teenager it was astonishing and heartwarming to see how so many came together to record the song in aid of famine relief in Ethiopia. Band Aid featured the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time and the song was recorded in just one day.
Furthermore, the record became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling a million copies in the first week alone and passing three million sales on the last day of 1984. A record held until 1997.
My final song returns to the message of Christmas reflecting on the birth of Jesus as humanity’s redemption.
‘O helga natt’ /‘O Holy Night’ (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) by poet Placide Cappeau.
I’ve heard the song many times but it’s one that has particularly enthralled me in recent years. I’m sure you’ll agree that Tommy Körberg’s performance is outstanding and magnificent.
I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to and learning about my eclectic mix of Christmas songs and that they’ve put you in a holiday mood.
I wonder which are the carols or songs you always turn to during the winter holidays! Please feel free to share in the comments!
Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful celebration!
Just imagine … no delete key! To be typing away with no way of erasing one’s words. Where force is needed on each letter, the loud clickety-clack echoing around the room.
Some will have learnt to type on the old-fashioned ribbon typewriters, whilst for others they are an alien concept. How can one manage without autocorrect, cut, copy and paste!?
Forget the modern contraptions and imagine an antique typewriter set on a lone table. In a bookshop. Paper rolled into place. People approach and can write a sentence or two on it. What would this be?
Where’s the power button?
what is the password?
Just such a scenario developed as part of a community project in a bookshop which opened in 2013 in Michigan and the results are beautifully collated in the book ‘Notes from a Public Typewriter’.
A joint owner of the bookshop, Michael Gustafson, whose love for typewriters stemmed from inheriting his grandfather’s beloved 1930s Smith Corono, first imagined a great new American novel would be co-written by hundreds of people.
He couldn’t have been more wrong! Yet the messages are more than he could ever have predicted and they offer a unique insight into the human psyche as the anonymity allows people to bare their souls.
I’m scared I’ll spend half
my life deciding what to do
with it and the other half
regretting that choice.
They provide glimpses into other’s lives, their marriage proposals, relationship breakups, love, loss, addiction, joy, worries over school, college. Some cut straight to the question of our human existence.
The hardest thing about
loving someone so broken
is you might fall to pieces
Some are funny and intimate.
i love it when you talk typewriter to me.
Others are sweet and poignant.
I raced the snowflakes
to see who would fall first.
Of course the novelty of a typewriter features often as one young writer shows.
If I had to write a
five-paragraph essay on
this thing, I would withdraw
from middle school.
The purpose of life in all it’s facets is captured in a few profound sentences.
Every evening Michael Gustafson would collect the reams of A4 papers, read the messages and cut them out, placing some on The Wall of Fame. Fame that grew as news of the bookshop’s unusual activity became more widely known.
In 2015 an artist, Oliver Uberti, was commissioned to paint fifteen of the messages on the brickwork outside the shop and it is now one of the most photographed locations in Ann Arbor.
‘Notes from a Public Typewriter’ is a wonderful and inspiring collation of messages, some even resembling flash fiction, many incredibly poetic in nature, beautifully presented in a smaller hardback form. A sense of harmony is achieved as the disparate notes are put into various sections, first describing the initial set up of the bookshop along with his wife, Hilary, in Ann Arbor and then concentrating on different themes of the notes, providing glimpses of occasions and people in the bookshop.
The notes themselves are presented unedited in typewriter fonts along with all their spelling errors etc. They are raw, honest, beguiling, addictive.
It is a profound book, it is hilarious, it is life!
we are all stories in the end
It has become one of my firm favourites this year and a book I’ve recommended to many already!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Publisher: Scribe UK / Grand Central Publishing (US)
Note: All bolded text are quotes from the book.
Summer slips into autumn almost unnoticed; the body hugging warmth acquiesces to an insipid invasive damp that clings to our lungs.
One minute the green of July and August, then with the next blink there is the hint of the golden copper of October. However, leaves fail to create the usual heart-tugging, breathtaking display. Rather there is an inhaled gasp of surprise. Already? When? When did the trees hearken to winter? When did the leaves scatter and clutter the paths, the lawns?
A life lived indoors … hospital, home, caring, worrying. Fears threaten to crumble the mind, spirit, soul. A battle of chaos and peace ensues.
Some flowers grace us with their presence; their resilience reminding us to remain likewise unyielding. Yes, do bend with the circumstances but do not break.
Outside the storm wreaks its path across the country; its disturbing dissonance a reflection of us all. Swirling of winds, lashing of horizontal downpours, so violent and ferocious; anger captured at its peak. Roads turn into streams; in awe and impotence, we gaze from the security of our homes, behind the safety of glass windows, reinforced from outdoor threats. In a bubble of us … bubble of loneliness, separated from loves, friends precious lives. Aching for ourselves, more so for our children. Wisdom of years gives scant comfort, neither to the young nor to the old. It just IS!
Glimpses of unadulterated joy crash without expectation upon us. A song catches us unawares, soul swoops, memories gather like swallows, building momentum before taking off in a glorious flight. Laughter, yes, it still exists, reverberates in the pit of our bellies following the initial sudden gusto of giggles; chuckles which so delight we cannot help but prolong the moment. All else is forgotten.
Note: The extract of my morning pages was written early November 2020 when pen and paper reconnected for me for the first time in a month. Morning pages are advocated by Julia Cameron in her ‘An Artist’s Way” and “the idea is to wake up, open your morning journal, and write three pages of longhand of any thoughts that come out of your head. Julia Cameron created this approach to journaling as a way for people to unleash their creativity”. I can highly recommend her book!
‘A Home for Her Daughter’ is a beautiful, heartwarming and tender romance that does not shy away from tackling deeper and more serious topics such as loss, guilt and marital abuse.
Jill has a knack of drawing the reader immediately into the story as the two main protagonists meet up to listen to the reading of a will at the local lawyer’s office in Whispering Slopes.
Drew Brenner has been a recluse following the loss of his wife and young daughter; struggling to carry on in life as he feels responsible for their deaths.
Meanwhile, childhood sweetheart, Janie Capello, has newly returned to the town after she finally found the courage to leave her violent ex-husband. Will she ever be able to trust a man again? Her vulnerability and lack of confidence are palpable.
Janie inherits a house, money and a camp, a place she loved to visit as young. However, the caveat is that she works with Drew to prepare to open within a month!
As the scene is set, Jill skilfully propels the story forward whilst at the same time filling in seamlessly events from their past lives. Her writing is self-assured, confident and gentle.
The book is part of the Love Inspired Inspirational Romance who offer books with ‘uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.’ As such it is not surprising Janie and Drew both turn to God with their prayers, although both have had reason to question events in their own lives.
Whilst Janie and Drew are wonderfully portrayed and immediately come to life for the reader, it is Janie’s seven-year-old daughter, Riley who steals the show and is the core of the novel. With bundles of cuteness and charisma she charms her way into our hearts, her wisdom profound and of course with her guiding hand Drew and Janie find themselves drawn to each other.
Will it be enough though or will their past experiences intervene and become a barrier for their love? Although the end is never in doubt in this genre of books, Jill creates an original modern-day twist on romantic endings!
Finally, many thanks for Jill for the gift of her latest book, a most welcome present during these troubled times. My review here is my honest and impartial reflections about the book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Publisher: Harlequin Love Inspired
NOTE: The above book review was originally planned to be posted early September however life took a different turn! A family member was seriously hurt in an accident and in the midst of all the trauma of that and the current world situation I found myself unable and also lacking in time for WP. Thankfully all is now well with my family and I’m looking forward to joining you, my friends, here on WordPress, catching up on blogs and finding some normality in these most abnormal of times. It’s wonderful to be able to return to blogging after the three month hiatus.
The definition of a makeover is ‘a complete transformation of the appearance of someone or something’.
As many of you might have noticed the recent something that underwent a makeover this week is my blog! A task I’ve wanted to tackle for ages, however I was apprehensive and hence procrastinated.
Would the whole blog disappear if a mistake was made? Maybe all the wonderful comments would erroneously be deleted? The calamities surrounding the possible makeover seemed insurmountable!
To the rescue came my son, a university computer science student, and when he heard my thoughts (and my fears) he promptly offered to help — the very next day!
Yikes! My musings to combine my blog with an author website was finally going to see the light of day.
Where to start?
Where else but the fantastic community of WordPress which I had explored over some months. I’d collated various articles by bloggers and two particularly were ones I referred to over and over again.
Natalie Ducey is not only a wonderful poet and graphic designer; she also prepares the most informative posts about all aspects of blogging. Were it not for her encouragement I would not even have considered the possibility of updating my website.
Through her, I learnt how to download new fonts and how to use them. My ‘signature’ here is in a font I found via her blog and is called ‘Saturday’. The background element upon which it rests is one I bought upon her suggestion. I love its calm and tranquil feeling, reminiscent both of the sea and sky.
Next came the matter of a new theme. I learned that my old theme, Sela, had retired — hopefully with a good pension! Hugh Roberts, a writer and prolific blogger provides super blogging tips at Hugh’s Views and News.
One of his posts featured WordPress themes and he listed some of his favourites. I looked at many of these and finally settled upon one which seemed best to suit my purposes. The theme of my website is called ‘Lovecraft’ and is free to use from WordPress.
Although at one stage I had a tag line underneath my blog, I had taken this away as it no longer reflected me or my work. Tag lines are key to describing you, your website or blog within just a few words, to win the attention of readers and hopefully retain their interest. After considering all the terrific comments about my books, stories and posts I realised two elements within my life stood out and influenced my written works. I feel I captured this within the final tag line of:
‘A writer influenced by her Swedish heritage and Yorkshire upbringing.’
As the deadline for the revamp approached I sketched out a welcome message, organised my book reviews in a document and found the appropriate images and photographs.
The day arrived and my son and I sat down at my computer!
Switching the theme was frighteningly easy but until the button was clicked I nervously kept asking was he sure this was okay? Would I lose anything? By the third reassurance and my hand hovering over the mouse he took affirmative action, borrowed the mouse and clicked the button!
Yeah! My website was on its way to a full makeover! The title and tag line were set to a large font. A custom background colour was selected from the palette and the gentle lavender harmonised all the elements within the website.
Next, there was so much to consider we ended up making a list.
The biggest change was my ‘Welcome’ introduction post. I wanted something brief, engaging and with my photo which was to be pinned to the top of the website. All was achieved — I just hadn’t realised it would be published as a post! As this was more of an informative introduction to the website the comments were removed. Searching Google my son found that the removal of likes and sharing was in the jetpack icon on the top right of the WordPress draft post. An icon I have never even touched before!
Next headings were created and my son set up sub-headings; something I’ve always longed to do and which have impressed when I’ve seen them on other blogs.
Of course, the headings had to lead to something.
For my books and their reviews we made new pages (and to activate these, one needs to click ‘publish’ but fear not, these are not published as a post!)
Last year I finally had managed to add a ‘Contact’ form but only via my ‘About’ page and it was not ideal. As if by magic my son transferred the previous ‘About & Contact’ into HTML, copied the code for the ‘Contact’ form. Once again I had a neater looking ‘About’ page and he quickly set up a new ‘Contact’ heading and page.
As for the sidebar, several elements have been taken away as I felt the website would benefit from a more streamlined and ultimately decluttered appearance.
One issue we discovered was my sprinkling of categories in my previous posts which makes it tricky to settle on just a handful of ‘Blog Topics’ for the drop-down menu. In my early days of blogging, I had no real understanding of categories and liberally made new ones, even for just one obscure subject! These will not be captured by the new headings. Furthermore, some had different types of spellings, eg. Short Stories and short stories, writings, Writings and writing! The only solution is that over time I will edit the categories on my older posts to make them more inclusive.
I’m sure there is yet much more that needs tweaking but in the meantime, I am proud to present to you my new and updated website. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about its creation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask … and I will pass on the queries to my son! Many thanks to him for all his hard work and patience!
Finally, a shameless shoutout for my musical son Sammy and his Youtube channel. Here he features over 80 of his piano covers, as well as his own compositions and own piano sheet music. For his latest venture, he is taking commissions for sheet music which he creates himself. If there is a piece you, your family or friends long to play but can’t find the sheet music do not hesitate and contact Sammy directly at email@example.com
And at last, a brief reminder of my two books available via Amazon or myself.
A warm welcome to my author website and blog.
I’m overjoyed that my childhood dream of becoming a writer has been realised and I am the published author of two books … with more yet to be released.
Enjoy learning about my books. They are available in both paperback and Kindle format.
The blog below features my short stories and poetry, as well as a wide range of book reviews and travel and nature related articles. Please take a look around – I’m sure you’ll find lots to delight you!
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
Walks have always been an integral part of my life; since my youngest days I recall clambering over the rocks out on the islands in Sweden, scampering through the forests.
Moving to Yorkshire as a young girl the stunning beauty of the moors became the background to my days out. I revelled in trips out into the wilderness, losing myself in bracken taller than my young self, walking along the ridge of the moors where the heather meets the sky, gazing down upon the miniature stone buildings of the villages below. They seemed inconsequential compared to the might of nature.
This strangest of years has seen walks featuring more than ever in my life – this time though restricted to those from my doorstep. As soon as the stay-at-home order was issued in March, the U.K. experienced weeks of warm sunny weather and it was a blessing to head out for an hour a day then perfect to sit and enjoy the beauty of the garden.
In the last five months, I have covered (according to my phone app pedometer) over five hundred miles, discovering new routes, creating new ones. At times it felt like ground-hog day; wasn’t I only by this gate yesterday, this oak tree surely is wondering why it’s suddenly become so popular? Yet the walks and their vistas proved a tonic each and every time, always something refreshing to sparkle the heart and mind, particularly as the times of the outings varied from day to day.
In March the days were chilly, a bite of winter in the wind, the fields barren and mud-ladened. I realised for the first time I would come to know in detail the surrounding landscape, the fields planted, harvested, the lakes full of clear water, then green with algae as summer arrived.
As August comes to an end a carpet of leaves forms a soft bed for my feet as I wander through the nature reserve; Autumn seems to have arrived earlier than ever. Already the fields are busy with their winter crop, the flowers almost all over and instead we spend the walks idling by the hedgerows, filling tubs with the juiciest of blackberries.
When restrictions were slightly eased we headed out with excited anticipation to Marks Hall Arboretum and Gardens and as only members were allowed we relished having the place mostly to ourselves. (You may recall an earlier post about Marks Hall and its Sculpture Exhibition entitled Creative Energy )
I couldn’t stop smiling as we wandered through new landscape, new views, drinking up the sights with sheer joy. The lakes were lush with fish, geese gazed warily at us, standing like sentinels over their young.
A Bug hotel caught my eye and I was only too happy and oblige by adding some leaves and sticks to the creation.
Peacocks never fail to enthral me and in spite of the lack of visitors over so many months, they were as still friendly and unbothered by us humans.
It was with childish joy I encountered ferns on a far-flung part of the estate. Reaching up I could barely touch the tops of them. Hooray! They were still taller than me!
Up ahead I glimpsed an ethereal sight, the wonder of the white trunks of eucalyptus trees beckoned me, like angel wings amongst the darkness of the other trees. Their bark was smooth and soft, I stroked it as if a pet, relishing in the unusual texture. I picked a leaf or two, inhaling the fresh exotic fragrance. I might not have physically travelled far but my imagination was halfway around the globe!
Bugs galore have graced us with their presence, and I’m sure they were always here. Was that a withered leaf on the bathroom floor? No, the most amazing of moths, which I think is called the Angle Shades. The shiniest of red in contrast to the black caught my attention with one bug, which I believe is the cinnabar moth. One lunchtime an admiral butterfly landed on my mother’s hat!
Our garden has been a solace and haven to me, more than ever! In the mornings I’ve had the time to greet the plants, stopped in my tracks in awe of the intricate details of the flowers and their petals.
I even say a quick shy hello to our resident troll tree … can you spot it in the acacia below.
It is invigorating to tend to the plants, bushes and trees, then afterwards enjoy relaxation and rest surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Finally, I often have a song ‘playing’ in a loop in my mind as I stride out across the countryside and since writing this review one particularly has stayed in my mind – it’s especially relevant as I worked out the miles walked these months. I first heard it as the soundtrack to one of my favourite films ‘Benny & Joon’. Enjoy the snippets of the film as you listen to ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers!
I recall a time of hugs Welcomes by a handshake, a kiss. Now young children dutifully step back From the ‘danger’ of me, others, all. They only run towards their friends Pull up Short! Stop! Embarrassed glances at their shoes Shy peeks at each other. Laughter breaks the frightened spell. Chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter. Their magic world Reactivated. by Annika Perry