As I headed out into the garden one sunny February afternoon a movement caught my eye; upon the decking the wooden swing seat was gently swaying and for a moment or two endless possibilities swarmed to my mind. A ghostly being seemed to have taken comfort upon the seat, enjoying the wintry sunlight. Alas, the reality is most likely far more mundane and the breeze caught the slats as if a sail.
However, the image would not go away. Luckily I’d taken a video and soon poems came unbidden to me. Here are a couple of them.
The first is in a traditional Haiku format composed of only three lines. The first line of Haiku has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third has 5 syllables.
Childhood memories Sway with mysterious ease Gentle cosseting.
My second poem is a form called Eyeverse and is a four-line poem based around an image. The name was coined by mslexia, a British magazine for women writers founded in 1999 which releases four editions a year.
Tea spilled on your torn jeans My curls tousled through your fingers Our first youthful kisses A mere ghostly presence.
My short stories are usually written without too much planning, although I’ll have a rough idea in my head and maybe some notes scribbled on a paper beside me. However, writing a radio play is another skill set altogether and for this exercise I planned meticulously.
Below is my summary plan of my radio play ‘Sunlight On Her Face’. For those interested in reading the full 15 minute play please clickhere.
SUNLIGHT ON HER FACE / Summary Plan
The play is called “Sunlight On Her Face” and starts in a prison in 2010s in Buenos Aires as Pedro is shown in by a guard to an interview room. Waiting at a table is the prisoner, a belligerent Carlos who immediately demands cigarettes. The anger and the tension in the room is palpable as the men cannot even start discussions without arguing.
Soon however, Pedro states his reason for coming. He is on a quest to find his sister, Juanita, who vanished 30 years earlier as she was seized off the streets by junta military and is now is one of the 30,000 ‘disappeared’ from the era. Pedro believes Carlos was a soldier at the camp she was held and yes, he does indeed remember the beautiful Juanita from the faded photo Pedro has presented. This is too much for Pedro who threatens to leave. Carlos persuades him to stay.
The next scene cuts to the event shown in the photograph. It is the early 1980s when the family are celebrating Juanita’s 18th birthday. Admist the happy celebrations, conflicts within the family increase as Juanita repeatedly accuses Pedro of causing upset in the family with his illegal activities against the junta. She fears for his life. Tempers are calmed by their mother and the fireworks he brought for her birthday are lit. However, before he leaves for the night the two siblings have a final fraught run-in.
The play returns to the prison and the conflict and bitterness between the Carlos and Pedro develop. Their anger threatens to derail any further talks, however it is Carlos who silences them with his accusation that Pedro is as responsible as the army for Juanita’s fate since Pedro’s actions caused her capture.
Carlos has hit a nerve and the play cuts to the fateful day when on a street, Juanita, who was visiting a friend, runs into Pedro posting leaflets through the letterboxes. She confronts him, shouting and crying, so scared that he is still involved with the student protests. He fails to calm her and then suddenly, brusquely, desperately, he begs her to run. To run for her life. It is too late, two soldiers seize her and bundle her into a truck. Pedro is dragged onto another, all the time screaming her name.
The final scene returns to the prison where drinks are poured, a packet of biscuits opened, both brought in by the embittered guard. Both men know this is the time for the final denouncement.
Carlos starts by saying how lucky Pedro was to be released – an administrative error we learn. Pedro does not feel lucky. Juanita meanwhile was taken to a camp for the women deep in the jungle. There Carlos reveals his admiration for Juanita who courageously started to help the other women.
Then, in shock Pedro learns that Juanita became pregnant and only for that reason was she kept alive until the baby was born. Incandescent Pedro demands more details. All Carlos knows is that a boy was born and then taken over by a couple connected to the top military. There are no records and now Pedro is barely able to talk.
There is a final silence. Carlos declares in justification that he was only following orders. That he had to do what he was told. What did he do? Pedro asks. Uninterrupted Carlos recalls how a group of women were drugged, put on a plane which flew low beneath the radar. It was only one of many such flights. The plane flew east to the Atlantic and the rising sun. As he hauled Juanita to the open door and as she tumbled out the sunlight caught her face, lighting it like an angel.
Pedro leaves Carlos, who is now sobbing, with a chilling message damming him to hell. The End
Why restrict oneself to only one walk at a time? When two are far more exciting!
As I stride out into my neighbourhood through woods and fields I’m simultaneously traversing the path of an ancient wall 300 miles north and 2000 thousand years in the past.
Nearer to home is a beautiful lake, over a mile long and created when the gardens of the local Hall were designed in the middle of the 18th Century.
The Hall itself was host to such prestigious guests as Elizabeth I and her grand retinue in the 1500s as well as King Louis XVIII. Along with his wife and courtiers the party numbered over 350 people and they resided at the Hall between 1807-1809 after King Louis XVIII fled the French Revolution.
Nowadays the Hall with its Elizabethan and Georgian aspects is a beautiful wedding venue.
I’m further immersed in history on my second walk, this time a virtual one as part of The Conqueror Challenge, which involves a fabulous 90 miles following Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the north of England and the hike starts off at Wallsend near River Tyne not far from the North Sea and finishes at Bowness-on-Solway near the Irish Sea.
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans in AD 122 by order of Emperor Hadrian and it was the north-west frontier of the empire for over 300 hundred years.
The landscape is breathtaking and along the 73 miles of the wall, much which is alas not in existence, there are fascinating fort remains to explore!
At home I’m still standing by the lake, soaking up the serenity of the winter peace. During the rest of the year, the 35 acres site is bustling with people and particularly with water skiers, both of national and international competitive standard, including a young man who was in my son’s class at primary school.
Just up the road is the local church and one has existed on the site since 1190. It was built by Audrey De Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford during the reign of Richard I (The Lionheart).
The current church was established in 1435 and looks very much the same now as it did nearly 700 years ago. It is incredible to think that the church registers go back without a break to 1539.
As I leave the church, my walk along Hadrian’s Wall continues and I pause for a while at Homesteads to explore the ruins of ancient Roman military site. At this vantage point, the panoramic views stretch 360 degrees across the stunning countryside and show exactly why the Romans would have chosen this location for the fort. Amongst the ruins, I happen to see the oldest toilet in England!
Following a couple of months of bleak, damp and bitterly cold weather I needed an incentive to set out for daily treks. The inclination was rather low at the thought of walking through the same familiar routes and thankfully I came across The Conqueror Challenge on various blogs to encourage me out every day!
These challenges vary from the extreme to more moderate and Hadrian’s Wall looked just ideal for my first attempt at the challenge.
An app on the phone handily allows me to track my progress as well as seeing my location in 3D on StreetView. Along the way four postcards are emailed to me packed with information and for every 20% completed a tree is planted! Participants of the challenges have ensured more than 450,000 trees have been planted since August 2020. Furthermore, I look forward to receiving a medal upon completion of the walk – I can’t remember if I have ever received one before!
To finish my post I would like to briefly mention a very special man on who passed away on 2nd February 2021.
Sir Captain Tom Moore raised our spirits in 2020 with his warm, kind and positive nature and utter determination and true Yorkshire grit in his own particular charity fundraiser. Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire (a town close to where I grew up), he served in India and Burma during WWII.
Sir Captain Tom shot to fame as he aimed to raise a £1000 for the NHS by walking a lap of his garden on each of the 100 days leading up to his 100 birthday on 30th April 2020. To say he smashed the amount he hoped to raise is an understatement. He raised over £33 million for the NHS Charities Together, an incredible feat for one individual. He gave us all hope and inspiration when it was so sorely needed proving that the human spirit can prevail when so much feels lost.
As the flag at my local church flew at half-mast in his memory, the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which Sir Captain Tom Moore recorded with Michael Ball played on loop in my head. It rightly became a number one hit in the U.K. in April 2020.
It was twelve minutes past one the day Sadie ran out of words. A Monday she recalled, just after lunch. She’d retreated to the arbour to the east of the garden, the sunlight drizzling in through the vine leaves, the insipid summer heat dissipated by the shade.
Lunch itself had been an unremarkable affair, the legs of the iron-wrought table playing a tuneless melody as the wrap was assembled. Tortilla, lettuce, avocado, parmesan, a couple of drooping slabs of tomato. They angered her, those tomatoes which had lost their lustre, their brightness. What right did they have to give up?
The conversation turned to the usual, the usual, the usual. When would it end? Mid-sentence, his, not hers, Sadie stood up, the chair scraping harshly against the rough patio stones. A surprised ‘where are you going’ drifted after her, the words floating on the hot haze, trying to follow her to the cooling seat.
It was there, as her body sunk into the pebbledash pattern cushion that she ran out of words. She tried to call out an answer to the question still hanging in the air. Like a guppy her lips puckered and pursed, air expelled with the tiniest of breaths, barely audible. Was there a hint of a whimper on the exhalations? Was there a hint of life even?
Sadie tried, again and again, her lips increasingly an inanimate part of her body, lifeless, detached. They moved like her daughter’s play dough, malleable enough, formed into the required shape, yet failed to fulfil their purpose. She tried another formation, a big round ‘O’, the attempt foiled by utter silence. Her eyes copied the shape, a wild, agog expression fastening upon her face; a rigidity trickling down her body.
Was this it? The day that had haunted her since childhood. The day she ran out of words.
A world is held together with the most tenuous alliance. A world like no other and inhabited by three races; elves, goblins and changelings. Together they’ve kept the peace in Borderland, yet its thin veneer is threatened as the dark force of Chaos seeks to overthrow the land. However, its leader, Kalann il Drakk, must first penetrate the shimmering border wall, the Veil.
With excitement, I was propelled into ‘Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil Book 1) and into the midst of Drakk and his force’s attack on the Veil. Its electrical energy is as powerful as the writing. Although the attack ultimately fails, seeds of Chaos are planted through the wall … although the reader is left in doubt about its format.
From this dramatic beginning, the book, the first of a trilogy, becomes increasing captivating as the story unfolds through chapters centred on three misfit characters who dominate the narrative and whose in-depth revelations help to create this outstanding fantasy novel.
The striking red-haired Alue Windthorn, an elf soldier, is plagued by failure which lands her in constant trouble with her leaders and father.
Talin Raska is a rogue of a changeling whose charm and cheek cannot see him out of all his pitfalls as he is also a liar, a thief and a spy. His greatest failure is to fall for his mark, Alue.
Naj’ar is half-elf, half-goblin and the two elements of his being are in a constant battle for his soul.
All three are outsiders, loners, they have constant difficulty following orders and rules. All three possess great abilities, some known to them, others revealed later. All three find their lives are, against their better judgement and wishes, intrinsically intertwined.
The author’s superb gift of storytelling immediately drew me into the book and the compelling lives of the characters. Through a close third person narrative of each a chapter at a time, their thoughts, emotions, reasonings, fears and vulnerabilities are revealed in touching and dramatic detail.
Equally compelling is the finely woven plot as strange disappearances of its people throughout the land are experienced by all three races. Of course, they immediately seek to blame each other although they are dependant on each other for their assets. The balance and harmony are severely strained as ever more are killed, threatened or simply disappear in the mysterious quakes.
As the tension escalates, events spiral out of control and distrust reigns and soon accusations and counter-accusations nearly bring Borderland to the brink of war.
With imaginative tour de force, D Wallace Peach creates an exceptional new world, which through stunning detail, beautiful descriptions immediately become real and true to the reader.
Whilst ‘Liars and Thieves’ is an epic fantasy novel it is at the same time a wonderfully intimate and personable story. I can imagine books 2 and 3 will become increasingly intense as Chaos and its destruction and fight for the eradication of the world dominates the plot.
Having read and loved some of the other books by the author, ‘Liars and Thieves’ is my favourite as yet! I look forward to reading the next two in the series and they are already on my Kindle!
To conclude, ‘Liars and Thieves’ is a must for all fantasy book fans as well as an exciting and enthralling book for readers new to the genre. Highly recommended.
As well as being a superlative writer, D. Wallace Peach is a blogger extraordinaire with her own writings, challenges, informative articles and poetry. She’s a faithful friend to many on WordPress, always engaging in fascinating discussions via comments. Furthermore, Diana is a huge supporter of writers with advice, encouragement and through her reviews. These are prolific and in the autumn alone Diana read 60 books and shared many of her reviews on her blog! Do take a look at her wonderful website/ blog at Myths of the Mirror
About D. Wallace Peach:
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
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”.
“The Storyteller Speaks” is available to purchase on all Amazon websites including Amazon UK and Amazon US as well as directly from myself for an autographed copy of the book!
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!
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 yourself.
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.
Life, like this typewriter, has no backspace. Type strongly and don’t look back.
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)
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!