#ThrowbackThursday Song of the Sea God by Chris Hill @ChilledCH

If ever a book deserved to feature on #ThrowbackThursday, it is Song of the Sea God, by Chris Hill!

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This week we have as our guest the wonderful writer of ‘Song of the Sea God’, a very unusual book that I enjoyed reading very much and will probably read again.
Hello Chris, and welcome!
***
Thanks for having me along to your blog Anita, it’s a delight to be here and always a thrill to talk to other writers and readers. You were asking about my book Song of the Sea God and how I came to write it. It’s an interesting question for any author I think – partly because in some ways it is such a hard thing to pin down.
As a writer it can feel as though you start with a blank page and finish with a book on the shelf and you are not quite sure how you got from one state to the next. Perhaps this is because a book doesn’t leap fully formed onto the page.
“Where did that come from?” you might reasonably ask yourself. Even though you know you did the planning and the notes and the research and the hours in front of the laptop and the rewrites – it still seems strange that you have produced this finished artifact – this book, as if from nowhere.
It’s especially the case with Song of the Sea God I suppose, in that it’s an unusual book with an element of the supernatural about it. It has one foot in reality and another in a world which exists only in the book.
So how did it come to be? I suppose the most honest thing to say about Song of the Sea God is that the idea for the novel kind of evolved over time.

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Song of the Sea God is a book about a man who comes to a small island off the coast of northern England and tries to convince the locals he is a god. In some ways I suppose it’s a book about the nature of religion – what it means to people, how it works.
I’m not particularly religious myself and I suppose I’d call myself an agnostic, but just because I don’t claim to know the mysteries of the universe, doesn’t mean I think there are no mysteries. I think what inspired me to write the book was that I wanted to examine that ‘god-shaped hole’ people have in their lives.
I’d like to think there’s humour in the book, particularly in the narrative voice, but it’s quite a dark book as well, it delves into some quite murky places.
I’m thrilled by the reaction it’s had so far from readers – people seem to think of it in different ways, it’s dark or comic or lyrical, and so on. That’s great because I was aiming to write something rich and layered and hard to pin down.
I know very well where the setting for the book came from, because the island is the place where I grew up, Walney Island of the coast of Cumbria in the UK. I used the geography because I know the place well and I think it helps if you have a book where slightly unreal things are going on if you can set it somewhere which feels very real – it helps to anchor it and I think a strong sense of place is a fine thing to have in a novel. But I always say, that though the island is based on Walney, the people in the book are definitely not the people who live there! The characters I suppose developed partly from people I have known over the years, partly from the needs of the story.
A lot of what happens in the book was based on research. I did a lot of reading into all sorts of things from ancient religious beliefs to magicians tricks, and from outsider art buildings to communities who live on rubbish tips. It all informed the finished book I hope and lent depth to the story.
So it’s that cocktail I suppose of imagination and research, and then developing ideas as you write.
I hope that’s given you some kind of insight as to how Song of the Sea God came about and anyone who wants to take a look at it can find it on Amazon here and you can read the first few pages to get a feel for it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Sea-God-Chris-Hill/dp/1908011556
I also have a blog, where I talk about writing and lots of other stuff, here:
http://songoftheseagod.wordpress.com/
Thanks again for having me on your blog!

You are more than welcome Chris, you can drop in any time you’re passing!

See you all next week…
Jaye

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#Throwback Thursday Review of The Healer…

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this book…  so it was the perfect candidate for Throwback Thursday!

When I first heard about this book, the brilliant cover and title intrigued me, and I expected it to be some kind of supernatural mystery.
The Healer is nothing of the kind. It is a well-written psychological thriller, and not a simple story by any means.
Christoph Fischer has created entirely believable character profiles of both the healer and the woman he treats.
The woman, dying of cancer, seeks a cure from the healer, but this turns out to be not a magical ‘one touch and you’re healed’ situation. There are all kinds of conditions, and as you read, you begin to form your own opinions as to the truth of it all.
Is the healer the real deal, will the woman be healed? Or is she being taken for a very expensive ride?

Suspicions and red herrings abound as the story twists and turns, and at times, you find yourself doubting the motives of everyone.
I thoroughly recommend this book…

~~~~~~

51Gzt3MXaOL._UX250_Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years, he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline.
He has written several other novels, which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/
Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer
Amazon: http://ow.ly/BtveY
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

Would You Like a Perfect Life?

 

Who wouldn’t?

But could you describe in great detail the perfect life you would have if you could create it yourself?

First, you have to decide on the basics, the where, what and when.  Then you will need to create a pros and cons list to help you compare your life now with one you want to create. List all the things/people/ scenarios that need changing and why.

Make a list of exactly what you would need to do to make it work. Then make another list detailing how nothing would change if you do nothing.

Do you believe in your dream and yourself enough to make it happen? Or do you intend to wait until everything looks easy?

Consider what would need to be done and if you could actually do it?

Do you trust yourself enough to make these judgements?

Do you find yourself making bargains with yourself – If I can do this then that is possible?

Once you know, really know what you want to do, are you brave enough to do it? Or will it be just a daydream, a constant torment of what you cannot have?

How do you get past the lifelong notion that good things only ever happen to other people? Have always happened to other people, like in the movies?

How do you get around the idea that you are too old to entertain any of this? Simply writing things down does not make things happen or fears go away.  Does it? No it does not.

If what you want to do or change is so huge, can you test yourself and the theory with a smaller goal? What else do you want or need, or is this just another stalling mechanism?

Maybe you should focus on something beyond your capabilities. (overreach yourself.)

This is something I do all the time.  I never think ‘I can’t do that’. Being a bit of an crafts person, I look at something I like, usually expensive or unattainable and think, ‘can I make one of those? and I have a go.

You know, most of the time what I come up with is pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  Maybe I was a forger or counterfeiter in a former life.  I think the moral is that you have to try, as you don’t know what will happen. (and it can be a lot of fun!)

 

My Not so Perfect Life

Throughout my life, disasters of one kind or another have befallen me, both before I was old enough to do something about them and afterwards.

I never made lists of the things I wanted to change, of all the things, people, events that were wrong in my life.

No, I just got on with life (such as it was) and soldiered on, changing what bits I could and keeping my mind on everything else that I wanted to be different.

Some things I have never been able to change, and it has not been for the want of trying! But my mind never lets go of the idea of my perfect life. My Shangri-La.

But again, nothing changes. Same old hopes and dreams and frustrations.

I know what I want, but something stops me from doing anything about it. So what the hell is it?

I have always resisted new things, but usually have the courage to do what is necessary. But this time, what I want is seemingly selfish and will upset a lot of people.

Is it worth it?

Will I regret it?

Do I still want to do it anyway?

We have to stop putting up with things- out of duty, guilt, pity- or simply the dislike of change.

We have to recognise what we no longer need. They say if you haven’t used something for a year, you should throw it away. (and that can apply to anything)

Start with little things and build up to the big stuff. Somewhere along the way you will get braver. (Hopefully)

Mark bad days on the calendar and at the end of the month count them. Were there more bad days than good? If there is,  something needs to be done and soon.

There are more bad days than I would like on my own calendar, but not as many as there once were. For not only have I changed a lot over the last few years, my acceptance levels are different too. I no longer yearn for what is obviously impractical and I’m afraid that has a lot to do with my advancing years. They say that youth is wasted on the young and I guess that’s right. I sure as hell wasted a lot of mine, but what is done…

Jaye

Bucket of Dreams… reposted

The First Dream has happened again… so I’m reposting

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I have reached the time of life when you start to think of all the things you wish you had done. The proverbial Bucket List.
Usually this consists of something you have never done, but always wished you had. The one I am going to tell you about is something I have been trying to do for a very long time.
As a keen bonsai grower, the exquisitely beautiful flowering trees have always fascinated me. Usually far too expensive, so I didn’t have one in my collection.
So I tried the next best thing. I planted seeds, pips, fruit stones, anything I could get my hands on. Some of them did grow, but a lot of them didn’t. Peach stones in particular, are impossible, and what they never tell you, is that it can take years for a seedling to produce any flowers.
I have two cherry seedlings that I planted four years ago, and every Spring I watch and watch as the first buds appear. But so far, none of them have been flowers buds.
It tests your patience to the absolute limit, but you do it anyway, repeatedly.
Apple pips are never very successful I have found, for some reason, they get mildew and gradually die.

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The Year one Dream Came True

When we first moved to our present house in Hampshire, in the south of England six years ago, I noticed a Laburnum tree on a roundabout in the middle of town. You don’t see many of these anymore, as people are a bit put off by the fact that the seed pods are poisonous. Silly really, when you consider that most of the plants in our gardens wouldn’t do you any good either.
I love the Laburnum. Such pretty leaves, and in the Spring, long spikes of drooping yellow flowers cascade like a sunshine shower. I had to wait until the flowers had finished and the seed pods were ripe, and then I went and retrieved some.
To cut a long story short, they started to grow. The years passed, and every Spring I waited for the buds to appear. When no flowers appeared, I just assumed they would come along when nature was ready.
But this year something was different. What I first thought were just leaf buds began to change shape, becoming pointed. I showed them to Anita, but she doesn’t really share my passion for bonsai. She took a quick look and said I was imagining it.
But I was having none of it. I believed.

Gradually, the flower shoots emerged, growing steadily longer with each day that passed, some even had a faint tinge of yellow. Every day I watched as they grew bigger. I had finally done it. Something I had grown from the seed I collected had finally flowered.

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I wonder what will be next?

I look at it every day and marvel. Now I keep thinking about all the other things that should be on my list…

This is what a full grown tree looks like…

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Not one dull moment…

 

new-years-eve

Monday
I was going to start the week with lots of good intentions, but somewhere between feeling exhausted from our trip to the New Forest (future post) and the fact that the new baby next door kept us all awake half the night, that original idea took a walk without me.
Stuck to routine in the morning, didn’t think I could go wrong there…and then the repairman for the cooker turned up. I wish all my problems could be fixed as fast as this one, it must have taken him all of 10 minutes to whip out the broken thermostat and bung in a new one!

Tuesday
Today I was determined to concentrate on writing. But as I ran the tap before I filled the kettle, something strange had happened. The water was brown. I let it run for a while but it stayed brown. Not much chance of a cuppa at this rate, I thought.
An hour later, I telephoned the water company and they couldn’t explain it either. Eventually it cleared, but it makes you wonder what we are actually drinking. A short trip to the local shop for bottled water was in order.
In between dodgy water and phone calls, I did manage to get quite a lot of writing done.

Wednesday
The tap water has a strong smell of bleach this morning, so it was back to the bottle stuff. Hopefully the bleach will clear soon and the water will be fit to drink!
Went to use my Dragon recognition software, only to find it uncooperative for reasons known only to itself. Wrestled with it for over an hour before it decided to toe the line. My typing skills have suffered with my advancing years, so having a machine do it for you is brilliant. If you need to give your fingers a break, you should definitely try it. It’s not very expensive and very easy to use. Like all things digital, it does throw the occasional wobbly, but I couldn’t be without it.

Thursday
Today I decided it was time to run my WIP through the spell and grammar checker. Two gruelling hours later and what seemed like hundreds of corrections, the readability score was 79.5 which I thought was quite good. Wish I could get a handle on this passive sentence stuff though.

Friday
The minute I woke up I had the feeling it wouldn’t be a nice day. I had no reason to think this and no idea where the idea came from. I wasn’t always right, so I tried to ignore it.
But the brain must have heard this observation and decided it needed time off, refusing to cooperate in the slightest. When I finally switched on the computer, I found BT had sprung another change. BT Yahoo has now gone and everything has changed dramatically, so going through my emails was a nightmare.
Why do they keep doing this? Everything has to be new and different, upgraded and improved, why can’t they leave things alone? Some of us like what we are used to, slipper syndrome I expect…

Would You Read This Book?

A look back, from Anita…

 

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Bad Moon was the first book I ever wrote, and came about I think, because I am slightly obsessed with the way the people in West Virginia talk.
Some people call them Hillbilly’s and years ago, there was a very funny television programme called The Beverly HillBilly’s. Maybe that was where it started, I don’t know.
I love the place too; it seems so wild and untamed. So much, I sometimes wonder if my father came from there and I have inherited something. I have it on good authority (from my mother) that he was an American.

 

So when this very distinctive voice began to speak in my head, all about her life and family, in no time at all I was completely hooked. Annie’s story is nothing like “The Walton’s”, no happy family in the usual sense of the word. They do seem to care for each other, but most of the time what they get up to is pretty hard to live with, a conclusion that the girl in my head had already arrived at.
The more she tries to change things, to make them better, the worse they seem to get. Horrible secrets are revealed and bad things keep happening, but this only seems to make her more determined than ever to leave all the pain and sorrow behind.

The trouble with writing such an unusual book is that most publishers won’t touch it with a barge pole. When I first wrote it, I tried very hard to get it published by the mainstream publishing industry. Most of them loved it, saying it was ‘powerfully written’. It very nearly made it, but, and it was a big but, they discovered to their horror that they didn’t know how to market it, and one by one they gave up on it.
I think it is a great story. It has everything, plenty of drama, horrifying storylines, love and passion, all wrapped up in a young girls rapidly growing sense of right and wrong.
I’m still trying to find people who will read it, and dare I say it, review it. It needs to succeed, if only because the book that came after, Simple, is based in West Virginia too and about a similar family group.
In some ways, Simple is worse, as it concerns bullying and the abuse of a mentally impaired family member.

I’m sure that if more people were aware of these books, they would receive more acclaim, but I fear my marketing attempts are inadequate at best.
I’m still in there, swinging… so who knows?

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The worst of times…

 

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Looking back to a week from hell…

When my desktop PC died and went to the shop to be resurrected, I proceeded to have, in some respects, the worst six days ever.
I haven’t had my laptop long and getting used to it was proving to be very difficult. Windows 8, I think, could send a saint mad and I’m no saint. But it was all I had so I had to buckle down and make the best of a bad situation.

Well, six days have passed, my PC is back and normal service can be resumed, I hope!
Apparently, they had to strip all the components from the motherboard, test everything to find the fault and then reassemble. This complete overhaul, by a wonderful company called Syn-Star, cost just £49 all in, although I did pay a bit extra to jump the queue. (I didn’t think I could survive too long without it, you see.) and I think it was worth every penny.
The time I was without it was not wasted, as being forced to use the new laptop for just about everything, I have had a major crash course in Windows 8. Although I still loathe and detest it with a passion, I can at least work with it now.

 

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In the meantime, I have discovered that two of our books need new covers (what was I thinking?) One of these books is in entirely the wrong category on Amazon as it not really a horror. It should really be renamed as maybe the word ‘Bad’ is not entirely conducive either.
Also with all this going on, I haven’t done any work on my book, so will be playing catch-up for a while.

In the midst of all this drama and frustration, I have discovered something called ‘PicMonkey’ and what fun it is to use. Normally I create our covers on ‘Paint’ but it doesn’t have the scope of ‘PicMonkey’.
Hopefully I can learn to create more impressive covers in the future.

 

 

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While all this was going on, I did manage to get away from it all for a while and take a walk around our lake, where I spotted this nest of baby ducks. The swans are nesting again, so that’s something else to look forward to.

 

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The Perfect Life (and how to get it…)

 

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                                  Would You Like a perfect life?

Who wouldn’t?

But could you describe in great detail the perfect life you would have if you could create it yourself?

First, you have to decide on the basics, the where, what and when.  Then you will need to create a pros and cons list to help you compare your life now with one you want to create. List all the things/people/ scenarios that need changing and why.

Make a list of exactly what you would need to do to make it work. Then make another list detailing how nothing would change if you didn’t.

Do you believe in your dream and yourself enough to make it happen? Or do you intend to wait until everything looks easy?

Consider what would need to be done and if you could actually do it?

Do you trust yourself enough to make these judgements?

Do you find yourself making bargains with yourself – If I can do this then that is possible?

Once you know, really know what you want to do, are you brave enough to do it? Or will it be just a daydream, a constant torment of what you cannot have?

How do you get past the lifelong notion that good things only ever happen to other people? Have always happened to other people, like in the movies?

How do you get around the idea that you are too old to entertain any of this? Simply writing things down does not make things happen or fears go away.  Does it? No, it does not.

If what you want to do or change is so huge, can you test yourself and the theory with a smaller goal? What else do you want or need, or is this just another stalling mechanism?

Maybe you should focus on something beyond your capabilities. (overreach yourself.)

This is something I do all the time.  I never think ‘I can’t do that’. Being a bit of a crafts person, I look at something I like, usually expensive or unattainable and think, ‘can I make one of those? and I have a go.

You know, most of the time what I come up with is pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  Maybe I was a forger or counterfeiter in a former life.  I think the moral is that you have to try, as you don’t know what will happen. (and it can be a lot of fun!)

                                  

My Not So Perfect Life

Throughout my life, disasters of one kind or another have befallen me, both before I was old enough to do something about them and afterwards.

Did I ever make lists of the things I wanted to change, of all the things, people, events that were wrong in my life?

No, I just got on with life (such as it was) and soldiered on, changing what bits I could and keeping my mind on everything else that I wanted to be different.

Some things I have never been able to change, and it has not been for the want of trying! But my mind never lets go of the idea of my perfect life. My Shangri-La.

But again, nothing changes. Same old hopes and dreams and frustrations.

I know what I want, but something always stops me from doing anything about it. So what the hell is it?

I have always resisted new things, but usually have the courage to do what is necessary. But this time, what I want is seemingly selfish and will upset a lot of people.

Is it worth it?

Will I regret it?

Do I still want to do it anyway?

We have to stop putting up with things- out of duty, guilt, pity- or simply the dislike of change.

You have to recognise what you no longer need. They say if you haven’t used something for a year, you no longer need it, so throw it away. (and that can apply to anything)

Start with little things and build up to the big stuff. Somewhere along the way you will get braver. (Hopefully)

Mark bad days on the calendar and at the end of the month count them. Were there more bad days than good? If there is,  something needs to be done and soon.

There are more bad days than I would like on my own calendar, but not as many as there once were. For not only have I changed a lot over the last few years, my acceptance levels are different too. I no longer yearn for what is obviously impractical and I’m afraid that has a lot to do with my advancing years. They say that youth is wasted on the young and I guess that’s right. I sure as hell wasted a lot of mine…

 

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The season changes

Julia Lund

Last of the summer roses Last of the summer roses

Today, as I sit at my desk in my garden room to write my first blog post in many weeks, the fragrance of autumn is in the air even as the garden clings on to the last signs of summer and I am reminded how much I love these times of year when one season hands over to the next. I even love it when winter begins to breathe its frosty breath across the last of autumn’s leaves; I love the anticipation of cosy fires and evenings snuggled as a family and Christmas to come – winter’s bribes for all the harshness of the dark, cold months it will surely carry in its wake.

Feeding an elephant Feeding an elephant

This summer, I’ve lost count of the thousands of miles I have travelled; I’ve touched an elephant, seen the wonders of the Swartberg Mountains looking as though they’d been…

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