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Friday, 27 March 2015

Another appraisal goes for the "stand alone chapter"

For those who were in at the start of my project to get Black Finn and his friends published, you will remember that the original format was a series of Finn's tales, in no particular order, with no particular continuity and looking back into the past (thus giving away who was probably still around and who died or otherwise exited stage left.)

Another one of the newer members of the reading group came back yesterday, preferring that approach.  Sylvander still thinks it is what makes the books stand out.

I am split between the two.  I lean, mostly, to the viewpoint that without the story being told in a rough time order, loss of tension is a serious threat.  If the reader knows that certain characters were about later than the story which places them in peril,  it's too obvious they will make it out, safely.

I also think linear time works better for most readers as it is how we live life. I know a few people who never could get their heads around how Pulp Fiction was presented. (btw, it's one of my favourites, if you ever read me, Quentin ;) ) (That'll be the day, eh?) 

I do wonder if the mix of singular tales about one or other character will mix well being interspersed between other tales which span multiple chapters.

I can see some sort of revision in the final order that I deliver, certainly after The Shadow is Cast, assuming Finn's beginnings does go in as book #1.

Still hoping to hear from a few old stalwarts. Someone give Dun'one and Dimitri a poke with a stick.

More sample stuff soon....

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

LHC Treasure Hunt Set to Continue

Great news within the scientific community and those who follow such things, that the LHC has been fixed, and those causes of anomalies in its performance have been found and overcome.

For those who are unclear about what goes on in the miles of tunnels beneath the alps at Cern, here is a quick guide.

You will probably all be aware that many pirates, particularly such famed individuals as Captain Flint, buried their treasures at points marked x on, at that time, uninhabited islands which went on to become such places as Florida Keys, Majorca and The Canaries. You may begin to see the issue.

The majority of these pirates never actually recovered any of this treasure which, therefore, continued to lie at the points marked x

According to pirate legend (from post binge tittle tattle, arcane notes on map edges and lists of those passed the black spot), there was one boatswain who worked for Captain Flint and, after a spat with the aforesaid buccaneer, transferred his loyalties to one Captain Higgs. His name being obscured by time (and struck from all good pirate lists for this infamous act of treachery), he is remembered only as Higg's Bosun (Boatswain - Ed). Since he was on every pirates' most wanted list and had been slipped a world record 67 black spots, he only survived a few weeks after taking up his new role.

In addition to this, there are some facts to back up the existence of this man who had made a study of all Flint's spots marked x and other pirates through that connection.

- Captain Flint's famous parrot was actually recorded, upon any query about gold to say 'Eight million pieces of Nano'  (Obviously a reference to the nanometers). His favorite unbidden phrase was 'twenty six pieces of string' (Ed - look it up yourself).

- The famous pirate captain Theodore Kaluza set off seeking a site on one island which was called "Scalar Field" on his re-named ship, The Graviphoton. Sadly, we do not know the outcome because all that was found after his disappearance was a piece of whalebone on which was written
 \widetilde{G}_{ab} \equiv \widetilde{R}_{ab} - {1\over 2}\widetilde{g}_{ab}\widetilde{R}
This note has puzzled those who have studied pirate notation ever since. What we do know is that he believed he had proved a theory on locating the point x by sailing outside our normal dimensional field.

- While tachyons were no big deal to the piratical community, one Captain Brute wrote extensively in his ships log about the possibility of reverse tachyon particles or anti-tachyons which would enable a message from the past to be sent. He postulated that Higg's Bosun would certainly have attempted this in some form and so, with the right laboratory conditions one might be able to pick up this echo from the past.

-  The works of the famous pirate Captain Plank also give us some clues.  (He was originator of making captives walk the same into the jaws of waiting sharks or worse, momentary black holes created by his fiendish device "The Collider Under The Lapland Eastern Snowbound Straits" (C.U.T.L.A.S.S.).

Plank postulated that Higgs may have removed some of the treasure from what he learned off his bosun and re-buried it at a new point x in a place which Plank called "Higgs Field".  This being so, the right development from his own early device might recreate a theoretical Higgs Field allowing future pirates to discover the point x.  All that would then remain is to relate that to a point in the real world.   Sadly, that seemed to be where the whole theory fell apart in all subsuquent efforts by such lesser pirates as Firmi, Einstein and Hawking.

Now our story moves on. Sometime in the late 20th century, a clever dick who was intrigued by pirates and particle physics postulated that with the right interaction of electrons, neutrinos and of course tachyons, one could identify and even recreate, if only for an instant, Higgs' Bosun himself and, if one was spectacularly successful, within Higgs Field.

This being the case, there would be potential to uncover the spot marked x and thus open the way to a treasure hunt with far reaching implications (such as some particle physicists becoming very rich).

There was a rush to put together a new generation of colliders and so, now the LHC is fully on line, there is much hope that this whole matter of x and what is at it can finally be solved.


Thanks to a number of scientific journals for source material including;
- Huffington Post
- Old Scientist
- Willie Deacon's (Aged 7) School Project
- Clickhole
- The Pirate Times
- Ladybird Book of Particle Physicists (and Pirates)
- How the point x proves there is no God (Dawkins)
- Brian Cox's 10 things you should know about the Higgs Field

Friday, 20 March 2015

The upcoming election - From the Squire's Perspective ;)

There has been an awful lot of activity in the local villages by the new UKVIP (UK Very Independent Party) activists. Mostly, the action has been led by their local chairperson, one Ms Viola Jane Middlething whose pink bmw sports car has become a common sight on the roads around here.

What set me back was walking into the Surfeit of Lamprey for a pint and maybe a sneaky pie (seeing as dinner wasn't going to be until 8 as Maddy was busy organising the Beavers and Brownies Village Boot Sale) and there was Robert Awfullybuff-Headstrong sporting an enormous purple and gold rosette with a pint in his hand, having his picture taken alongside a slight blonde woman with a rather fatuous smile.

It might have well as been Nigel Barrage, the over-photographed leader of the newest nobs on the old soapbox.

"Robert old man," I finally managed, "what the devil are you doing?"

"Ah, Townshend, my old mucker. (he looked slightly uncomfortable at being spotted) At last, I am taking responsibility. No more forty-two pint binges, no more policemen's helmets removed and hung from Old Father Time's scythe. No, I am a reformed man, ready to do his bit for his country."

"But you've gone and joined UKVIP, that's worse than any of those minor misdemenaours, "I replied, "you know who this Barrage is and what he's capable of?"

"Who?" He asked with a puzzled expression

"The blasted leader of your party."  I retorted, getting a little hot under the collar. I don't know why I should be surprised. That's about the standard I have come to expect from some of their candidates.

"Don't you think Bobby will make a really good candidate?" Viola Jane draped an arm about him and oozed admiration. "He's a real Englishman through and through, an icon, the sort of man that the younger voter looks up to and the older voter can trust not to drop the ball."

"I don't see why," I came back, unable to resist it, "he did in the world cup semi against The All Blacks and they picked it up and scored the winning try."  I ignored her calling Rob "Bobby" although I was thinking "oh dear".

She laughed. It sounded a little like glass breaking in an adjacent room, "You are funny, Mr?"

"De Grincheaux." I replied, "And I can tell you that however good he may look in a blazer, "Bobby" won't win this seat."

Her smile kind of curdled the way cream does when you add pineapple juice to it, "oh and who will?"

"Farmer George Stanville, of course. The Conserve-Its always win Borderfolk & Sheepshire Central. Frankly, they'd beat Robert if they put up a jackass penguin up against him."

At that, Viola Jane grew quite waspish and said we'd see, "come on Bobby" she dragged Robert by the arm and huffed out with him complaining he hadn't finished his pint.  I hoped I was proved right. If anyone could challenge the Conserve-it safe seat, it was UKVIP and after all, Robert was ex Peterville & Gonwylde, Warboys and a sound member of The Shenanigans Club as well.

A two horse race, for sure.  Oh, Maurice Dufferly (Liberal) is a very nice chap and he's run for the Libs for the last fifteen years. He is never going to change opinion unless there is some kind of revolt led by people demanding boredom.

As for this time's  Laborious candidate, they chose a strident woman who wears trousers, swears like a bloke and has no sense of humour.  I rather liked the old candidate who had been an mp previously for Woolcote and Leftfield, Donald Cooper. He'd been shifted when his party decided it didn't want mavericks who had their own views and put over here against a huge Conserve-it majority. He subsequently used his influence with the left to get a better seat this time and we got Tabatha Lee-Jones,

That only leaves the latest party to pitch its views here and that's the Green Tea Party. I happen to know my oft browbeaten brother-in-law, Henry Treadsoftly has joined. I bet Hildebrande doesn't know about that or you'd have heard her yells all the way from Much Vexing. I quite like Sarah Shortcrust, their candidate, although her chances are not helped by being a St Brunhildas Cambridge gal and rather outspoken. She's married to Wilbur Dovecott, the ex England opener but then he's an ex Bignose man and went to Owngall.

Had my first leaflet through the door today, don't you know. It was from the Vacuum Cleaner Action Party against the regulation of Domestic Motors.  Get what they're about but that's a party heading for a loss of deposit for sure.

Anyway, I'll keep you up to date with the runners and riders. They're going 8/11 on Farmer George just now. You can get fours on "Bobby" (more like Booby) Awfullybuff-Headstrong. But there's still some way to go, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Casting a vote rather than a shadow

I have always enjoyed general elections.

I try to ensure I have watched a good selection of party political broadcasts as well as the debates on Newsnight and so on.

Just try breathing easily. Sit down if you must. It's all going to be fine.

I admit, politics in this country could be a lot more interesting than it is. That's why I urge you all to consider carefully before you cast your vote for one of the main two parties, especially if you vote that way because you always have, your dad or mum (or both) did or because the paper you read have pointed out all the reasons you should.

There has been a lot of nonsense written (and said) about why coalition politics don't work. The people who have said this most loudly have always been from those two main parties.

So consider this. If someone asked you which government(s) in Europe would you consider to (probably) be more advanced than ours how would you answer?  Which society in Europe you would consider (probably) looks after its people better than we do?  If you weren't British, which country would you prefer to have been born in?

Did you answer with any Scandinavian states?  Perhaps to more than one of those questions?

Many of our European neighbours and particularly the Scandinavians know a great deal about coalition politics because it is rare for one party to have a workable majority.

So, as  certain elements of our two main parties would have you believe, do they spend their time in unproductive deadlock, unable to function or be progressive?
Well, oddly, not. In fact, we probably regard some of the Scandinavians as the most progressive societies in Europe. They also have very strong economies. Go and see how much it costs you to buy a beer in Denmark and Sweden if you don't believe me. Their average workers have a higher expectation than ours.

The truth about coalition is that it involves compromise and compromise involves sensible negotiations.  In the end, the parties find enough common ground to do what is best for their country and people.  The result is that the politics are a lot more grown up.

I find the level of arguement that we see trotted out, here, to be largely disappointing. To watch Ed Milliband in particular, waving his finger and filling the air with insubstantial rhetoric reminds me of David Cameron at the last election. They behave like schoolboys and when you see some of the behaviour in Parliament, our Parliament, held up by so many to be an example to the world, don't you cringe? Howling each other down, shouting and booing. It only needs the hurling of bread rolls and we are back at high tea in Cambs or Oxon, Eton or Harrow, ragging some of the other fellows.

So, if you want adult politics, if you want to hear thoughtful propositions that differ on key points and if you would like a government where we get compromise on bills to replace the dogma, perhaps you will think longer before you put your cross in the box.

Read the flyers, at least. Decide which party actually sounds like it best matches your current thoughts on what should be done and vote for them. Or vote for a local MP because you actually like what he/she does for the local community.

I have alway loved watching the returns coming in from our elections. The only thing that has saddened me over the years has been people's cowardice in voting to retain the two party system when they could have brought a third and a fourth into a stronger position with others returning a handful not just one mp.  The swing is artificial. The reality is at each election, there is a blank slate. If the majority came out and voted for whoever they wanted, how different might it look?  

So don't afraid to show your True Colours.   (They might be beautiful like a rainbow)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Saturday, 14 March 2015

And especially for Del... the Unedited 4th Chapter (Book 1)

Or how Finn got his name - Chapter 4 - Stones 1

Leaving Rosgovia, I had travelled south-westwards, stopping at the oldest walled city of Acondium and then by the Imperial Northern Canal to Jordis.   While we were in the country, off the main trail, we ran into some trouble but Finnmeyer showed why he was my father’s most trusted man and I was able to see some of his other skills, first hand. That was an interesting journey but not relevant to this tale.  Suffice to say that Acondium greatly impressed me. It has a slumbering magnificence, reflecting its past history as the original imperial capital. The city is still the seat of one of the ecclesiastical electors with buildings that date back to the time of the Fondlanians and the ancient races. Capital of the buffer state of Convar there is a wonderful atmosphere around the great water market and the regal buildings that became the university.

 Jordis was also impressive by comparison to the much more functional towns of my own country.  A sprawling port on the south-western coast of Valcoria, it is smelly, bustling and cosmopolitan. I had never seen so many different races mingling in one street as on the Street of Bazaars. That thoroughfare leads to the great square which was almost as impressive as Acondium with its soaring buildings of white and black marble. 

It was in Jordis that I said farewell to Finnmeyer and the honour guard that had seen me this far. Finnmeyer was wearing a hardened black scale gilet over softer leather, his favourite bow on his back and a short sword on his belt. He stroked his black beard, momentarily and then straightened to his full six and something feet, the light catching his slightly craggy features so that his blue eyes seemed like two gems in a rough wedge of stone. 
“Remember lad. It’s how a man lives and dies that matters. Your actions remain as the evidence of your life, their consequences sometimes forgotten but at other times echoing long after you have departed this world. You may never be a lord or lead an army but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an important role to play in the events of the empire and its surrounding lands. Always be ready. Keep up your practices with weapons and skills, study tactics of the great leaders and when you listen to tales about them, try to evaluate what they did well and when they went wrong.  And take care of yourself.  Next time you’re home, we’ll catch another snow tiger and this time you can bring it back for all to see.”
His face softened and the eyes crinkled into a smile. We shook hands.  Finnmeyer put a hand on my shoulder. He looked like he had more to say but he merely nodded and turned away.  I knew he was still troubled by the alliance with Drachefauste but try as I had done, I could not draw him out on the subject. I raised a hand and saw him turn and do the same. Then, they were gone and I was alone for the first time.

I departed Jordis on an elven trader bound for Gwythaor. It was docking at Orsiliath and from there, I’d take a river trader, a wherry or similar to Warvane.  I’d never sailed on an elven ship, before. It was a revelation for me.  Elves are not a common race in the Imperial lands. There are a few, of course and I had seen elven hunters coming to barter over furs and other items. The elves on the ship, “Windsong” were very serious. They sang, but the songs were all of legend and rather sombre. They worked with a quiet efficiency, each member of the crew seeming to know their place at any time.  There was none of the good-humoured jibing or the yelling or orders that you would expect on a human vessel. No one ever seemed to raise their voice. Bells rang and jobs were changed. The vessel cut through the waves so lightly that you hardly felt the swell.  I recalled that the elves were the first race to create fleets and taught men to sail. Watching them at work, you could see a thousand years and more of refinements in the way they handled a vessel.

In Orsiliath, I simply bade them farewell and departed the ship. There was no camaraderie or shouts of well-wishers. I felt rather sad and lonely, then. For the first time, I realised how far from home and how utterly alone I was.  My father still had some influence here but House Vas-Coburg ruled Gwythaor. The extent of the Von Tacchim presence was an embassy in Warvane. The Ducal Isles were recently established at this time, representing the westernmost border of the Nordovician Empire. The throne in Riassa depended upon the fairly autonomous lords to rule, protect and provide tax from the islands.  Left alone with the power to build their own armies, the seeds of rebellion were sown. They lay dormant for now upon these rich islands, awaiting the right circumstances. 

 And so, by what Myneus the Navigator would have described as “By divers routes withe many a winding and a twisting”, I reached Warvane and saw, for the first time, the beauty of the nearby woods. They rose to the hill at the centre where the Lorefast Stone Circle stood as it had since perhaps the dawn of time. It was here that I was bound.

As advised by my father, I took rooms at a local inn rather than request shelter in Lorefast’s tree village.  After a slice of hot game pie with vegetables and bread, a pint of dark ale and a pipe of cherry wood tobacco, I felt a lot better. 

The Boar at Bay Inn had an interesting clientele.  I studied them over my pint and tried to take in the faces for future use.  I was particularly intrigued by a young rat-catcher who seemed to be a lot more than just that as he advised groups of younger lads who were obviously impressed by the silver coins he produced to pay for food and beer.  When an elder man tried to fetch him a clip around the ear, for cheek, he just slid away from the blow with a laugh and a wink. 

There was another man who intrigued me, there. He stood out because he was so different in manner and dress.  He wore a long coat made, primarily, from a strange hide with strands of the soft coat of some beast in a ring around the collar, the cuffs and the upper arms.  The coat had an odd smell, too. Beneath this, he wore a light jacket in deep crimson and gold with a chain mail layer from collar to just below the heart.  It had chain mail at the waist, also, to keep it hanging straight. Under the jacket, he had a plain tunic of midnight blue the same colour as his leggings.  A dagger was slipped through a band towards the top of one of his long black boots. The dagger was curved as was his blade, a well-fashioned scimitar.  He sat, one leg crossed over the other, watching everyone. He had deep olive brown skin with a thin moustache and a small, short goatee.  Upon his head, he wore a deep blue turban with a small cluster of garnets in a brooch pinned to it.  It was rare to see arabic folk in the north. It seemed even rarer to find one seated in this tavern, apparently unbothered by any of its patrons or, indeed, by anything.

Finding me watching him, a smile touched his lips and he raised his stoneware tankard.  Another incongruity, it seemed. Most of the arabic folk that I had seen, rarely touched alcohol and then, only very strong spirits. This man was drinking beer.  I was drawn to take a seat nearer him;
“Your pardon, good sir” I said “I did not mean to offend by staring at you”
“No offence taken” His voice was rich. You might call it creamy, smooth and unhurried. The twinkle of humour remained. “You are new, here, yes?”
I nodded. “I am not from these parts either so we have something in common, my young friend” he continued.
I smiled.  I couldn’t help it.  There was just something likeable about the way the stranger was so at ease. “I am Edmund Von Tacchim” I offered my hand which he took. His grip was quite firm despite the elegance of his slim, long fingered hands.
“Kharr.  You might wish to be careful with that title, Edmund Von Tacchim.  Some may realise that you have lord’s blood in you and think you might make a good ransom.  I would adopt a suitable adventuring name while you are here”
“I’m bound for Lorefast, to study, as a bard” I told him. He inclined his head,
“A worthy profession. Nevertheless, a name less liable to attract attention would serve you.  You are a long way from home, no ?  Which branch would you be from? “
He pondered, momentarily “Not Littesburg. You’d be wearing one of those ridiculous grey and blue jackets with golden buttons and already attracting the wrong kind of attention.  Convar, perhaps or maybe... Rosgovia.”
I started, wondering if he might be some spy or agent but he seemed to be just curious and again, I decided I could trust him.
“I was born in Rosgovia. My father is....”
“Shhh. Best not speak of your father, here. There are ears that you do not see.  You are obviously the son of a small noble sent to make something of yourself and that is good. “
 “Yes, yes of course.  That’s it, sir. How do you know so much about them?”
“You could say that I am a well-travelled man.”  He smiled, again, “would you like another drink?  The inn here is not a wonderful place to spend time thinking or indeed sleeping but it does serve a very good ale.”
I nodded and smiled, a little uncertainly and then added “please, yes, that’s very good of you” We had one more ale, together and I learned that he came from the borderlands of  The Ephiniate Kingdom of Surmey  He was indeed a traveller. He had seen so many states that I lost count. It was more a case of where he had not been.  In turn, I explained why I felt that learning the skills of a bard at Lorefast would enable me to open doors as both ambassador and spy.

I wandered Warvane for an hour or two after that. That was how I found myself in an alleyway in Cheapside, having taken a wrong turn.  I say a wrong turn because I had found a large, bulky man looming behind me who had the look of a brigand written all over him just as the weasly looking individual who stepped out ahead, holding a long knife, looked like a cutpurse. You could have placed them with any crowd of peasants and picked them out as the thief and the thug.  I’m sure you know what I mean.   Anyway, there they were. I wasn’t a defenceless young man, even in those days.  I spun, kicked the thug between the legs, slipped by one grabbing hand and caught only a clipping blow to my shoulder from the club. I might have taken care of these two but then two companions appeared, drawing knives.
“Bugger kicked me in the bollocks!” the thug pointed at me “do ‘im boys”
At that moment, a fifth man loomed behind these two, took both of them by the scruff and crashed their heads together, kicking the pair to the ground. The metallic hiss of a scimitar being drawn was heard as he stepped over them.  I parried the weasel’s knife and opened his arm from wrist to elbow with my own. 
“Bloody ‘ell, its Kharr” the thug yelled. That was enough. They all took off down the alley, the weasel trying to wrap something round his arm as he ran. Two of them stumbled, still dazed from the bang on the head.

“Having trouble with the local wildlife, my friend ?”  The laconic voice was still edged with humour.  I turned and offered my hand again.
“Once again, I owe you, sir.”
He shook it. “I really suggest that you do something about finding that name.   I did warn you that the thieves guild will be a lot less interested in a common student than they will be in the son of one who might be able to afford a ransom or have wealth of his own.”
I nodded. An idea was coming to me. If I could not be my father’s son, then how about Finnmeyer’s son. He was no noble and I admired him, greatly.
“Finn” I said “how does that sound?”
“Not a bad start, my friend. It should serve”
“No, better, Black Finn” And there it was. Meyer meant black in the islander tongue. Finn-Meyer. Black Finn.
“Ah, now that, I like. It has a certain suggestion of roguishness or danger about it.  I approve. Come, Black Finn, let’s walk”

The first response is in

I had my first response back, today and I am really pleased. 

From everything I have read about submitting fiction, there might be half of one per cent of writers who get a first time acceptance saying we love your stuff. 

I had one back, today that said the story was engaging and invited me to re-submit once I had reviewed his comments on the first 500 words.   It was all fine grammatical stuff which is fantastic. Although I hate being a grammar nazi (excuse the expression!) I'll get the virtual pencil out and go through it closely (and probably get a second check from someone who knows better as it's not my strongest suit). 

I was expecting either a "thanks but its not quite what we want" or "you need a major re-write here or of that character there"  Although I'm sure that there will be more input down the road when the editors have been through the whole thing and will want some changes, additions and hopefully, some discussion, it feels like we're under way, here.

Let's do this thing!   Black Finn's tales need to be told and if the support for them is out there, I'll be bashing through the first six as fast as the stories continue to flow and I can spend the time I need to edit with more attention.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A few more characters raise their heads

So I'm pushing through the third Finn book without having really taken much time yet, to edit and hone the second book.  The collection of characters just keeps growing at the moment. I was asked to put a bit more in about Ymrys and Rusko who'll be dropping back into book 4 as well.

It's also a book which will see a number of the different types of mages emerge. We will see the difference between the traditional beast shaping ways of the old orders compared to summoning, necromancy and the more floral magic of the Celestials and other Imperial orders.

Hamilkar surfaces (thanks Andreas for taking time out to read and re-read the chapter Northmen and comment)  I want to get him right and differentiated from the other mages as he is very much one of the Norse style group not way off the grey mages Athdarn and Malvorn but with a different preference to shaping.

Another mage (mage-thief) who pops up in book three is Zira who will be appearing regularly along with her light-fingered uncle, Farukh.  Zira's different brand of magic is designed around enhancing her thievery with a mix of shaping and conjuring. (Kirsty, I'll be looking to you to review how she comes over)

We see Sylvander revealed in three, as well. At first, Finn doesn't really ascribe power to her and misses how easily she can protect herself.  Later on, we see her unleash some pretty powerful weather and earth magic common to the druids.

Of course, that means we will also be introduced to three of our mage villains, the most serious protagonist that I have brought into past tales, Vekra-Syn (a painted figure of him with his book and staff hung with talisman sits in the cabinet beside me courtesy of Chrissie), Ceomar and "The Collector" (That alien magi that I must get my daughter to model for me in clay so we can add him to the collection).

Not just magi but the war in the islands rears its ugly head once more.  I think the third may be the best of the books so far. I've certainly enjoyed writing it, enormously.

As soon as you who are still reading finish Book 2 and the Book 1 revisions, it's waiting for you!

I ought to burst into manic and echoing villain laughter, after that monologue.  More soon.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Why has Alun been so quiet?

What can I say?  First off, I vanished for two weeks on a cruise around the Canaries and so on, escaping the freezing, damp, barren lands of the UK at a time of year that I'd like to spend a whole six to eight weeks away, if I could.

I took many notebooks and pencils but wrote probably less than two chapters and those weren't the current book cycle. I drifted off into what might become a short and completely independent book about crossing the hedge titled "The other side of the bridge" set during the second world war. 

I hope that an agent will step forward soon as I have so many tales to tell about good old Finn and his friends. I have just dragged Hamilkar into it, this week after a brief consultation with his owner. I hope you remember him.... in our tales, a northman and mage of the type one would find in the sagas not the more florid magic of some of what have since become trad fantasy spell casters.

I reckon by the end of the first four books, I might even have assembled all the companions and friends that I intended to include as well as lost a good few, as well.

So that was my first excuse.    The other is that I have been working on editing some of book 2, "Out of the Shadows" and cracking on with book 3 "Long are the Shadows" which I have now written 17 chapters for, sketched out 6 in draft and have plenty more planned.

Those in my reading groups, thank you for your continuing comments and persistence. :)