Tuesday, 23 January 2018

In view of the recent tweets and threats by both Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un we seem to be reverting to  a similar situation that existed in the 60s. That of fear of a nuclear war. 

A couple of nights ago, I watched a programme about  what would happen in in a nuclear war. It was one of the most frightening things I've seen.


In the 1960s, people were afraid that a nuclear war was a very real possibility. After all, it had only been 15 years, in 1960, since the USA dropped a hydrogen bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was also the era of the 'cold war', and everyone was afraid of Russia, or rather the USSR as it was then, a vast empire ruled by Russia. It was in this climate I wrote the following poem.
It is the only poem that exists from that time. It is also the only poem of mine ever to have been published before as a poem and not as part of a novel. It was published in the student magazine of UMIST, in Manchester.









A Plea for Peace

Now we have created something
That threatens to destroy.
One error, one mistake
And what is left for us
But Death.

I see the ruins of a country
That once was powerful.
Now there is nothing but
Ruins, dust, decay
And Death.

I hear the cries of suffering people
Many people, old and young
They cry in agony to God,
Please give us peace
Through Death.

But

The only true peace we can have on Earth
Is through remembrance of our Saviour's birth.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Boudicca's Revolt

I not only write fantasy novels under the name of V.M.Sang, but I've also got a historical novel published under the name of Emily Littler. There's another one on the way, too.
The published novel is set in the time of Roman Britain and is called Vengeance of a Slave. I thought you might like to have a bit of background, so here is an account of a famous revolt by Boudicca (also known as Boadicea) Queen of the Iceni, in Eastern Britain.



The year is 60 AD. Suetonius, the governor of Britannia is off on the island of Mona, putting down a revolt of the Druids there. This island, off the coast of North Wales, is a stronghold of the Druids. The Romans hate them. I suppose it's because they refuse to worship the Roman gods, and deny that the emperor is a god.

I am of the Iceni tribe, and I have seen what has been  happening. Our king, Prasutagus, has died, but, he made his will and has left our lands to his two daughters and the emperor, Nero, to govern together.

I suppose he thought he would secure the safety of the tribe by having the emperor himself a joint ruler. However, things seem to be turning out very differently.

After Prasutagus's death, Nero decided he was going to be the sole ruler of our lands, and he has sent troops to annex them. Needless to say, this has angered Boudicca, Prasutagus's queen. Nero has wilfully ignored her husband's will.

Prasutagus was an ally of Rome, and this is how his last will and testament is being treated. Still, this is the emperor and his greed is notorious. Indeed, the greed of all the Romans for land and other goods is well-known.

Boudicca has made her anger known to the Romans. They are not pleased. I heard the soldiers took her and flogged her, then raped her daughters. I am worried about what will happen now. Queen Boudicca is a strong woman and I don't think she will readily accept this treatment.


I was right. Boudicca is full of anger. She is planning a revolt. No, a war. She has gained the support of the Trinovantes, and it is said, some other tribes too, as well as the Iceni. They are marching to Camulodunum. The Romans have erected a temple there to their emperor, Claudius. And at our expense. The cheek of it. The Romans say their emperors are gods. Crazy folk, these Romans.

But we Britons have a great history. We saw Julius Caesar off when he came to conquer, so why not these Romans, and why not with Boudicca at our head?. She's a great leader. She inspired her army with these words.

"It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. This is a woman's resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves."

Well, she did it. she managed to conquer Camulodunum. They say she razed it to the ground and slaughtered the inhabitants. Perhaps a bit violent, as many died who were not Romans. But that happens in War.

Boudicca besieged the remaining people in the temple of Claudius for two days. The Romans living there sent for help, but only 200 auxilliaries turned up, so it was easy to fight them off. Very few of them survived.
'Londinium next,' they said. 'The army is going to do the same there as they did in Camulodunum.' They didn't expect the rest of the army to come marching down Watling Street from Mona in response. The Romans made for Londinium, but we were too many for the Roman army and so they left.

Londinium was not important enough, evidently, for the Romans to fight for it. In spite of the pleas of the population, mainly traders and merchant vessels. Suetonius, the commander of the army, left the city to Boudicca.

Our army reached Londinium, and finding little or no resistance, they razed that to the ground too, just like Camulodunum. Many of the population had left with Suetonius, but the army put those who had remained to the sword, then burned the buildings.

The same fate awaited Verulamium, a little further north. The slaughter was terrible, they said. Boudicca had no interest in taking prisoners even as slaves, but killed everyone in the most brutal fashions she could think of. They say that in the slaughter, of the three towns, between seventy and eighty thousand people were killed.

Boudicca and her followers made sacrifices of some of these people to the gods. Were the gods pleased? who knows. The following events don't seem to suggest as much.


While Boudicca and her allies were slaughtering and burning, Suetonius was busy. He regrouped his army and he called on his own force, the Legio XIV Gemina, and some vexillationes from the XX Valeria Victrix. Although the Legio II Augusta di not come to Suetonius's call, nevertheless he managed to amass around ten thousand men. Then they marched to meet our army.

Suetonius took a stand somewhere along Watling Street, in a small valley with a wood behind him. He was still heavily outnumberd by Boudicca's forces, though. Our army, I was told, numbered about 230,000.

Boudicca made a speech from her chariot and fired up her army. She pointed out that the gods were with them because they had already routed one legion, She did not, of course, mention that it was not the full legion.

Well, a number of things were against our army that day. The terrain was narrow, being in a valley, and so we could not put any more men forward at a time than the Romans could. Then, in that valley, our chariots proved to be not very manoeverable.

At first, when we attacked, the Romans threw heavy pila at us. These were a kind of javelin, and they killed thousands of our men, rushing forward to engage battle.

Then they formed a wedge and forced our men back. They were highly disciplined, and our troops were not. We fought as every man for himself and all rushed forward as individuals, with no thought for co-operation with each other.

Then the men were forced back against the wagons where the women and children waited. That was another thing. The Romans did not bring their families to battle.

The long and short of it is that we were defeated, and heavily. Boudicca poisoned herself rather than submit to the Romans, no one knows what happened to her daughers. Perhaps they were taken as slaves, perhaps they, too, committed suicide, or perhaps, just perhaps, they might have escaped.

They say that after this battle, Nero was ready to abandon Britannia. Unfortunately, though, he didn't. After the uprising, Suetonius started to conduct punitive operations, but Nero feared he would trigger a new uprising so replaced him. He replaced Suetonius with our current governor, Publius Petronius Turpilianus.

So that is where we are today. Under the rule of Rome. They, the Romans, say it's good. We are at peace. they've stopped the inter-tribal wars and brought us what they say is culture. But we had culture before. It was just not the same as the Romans.


You can read my book, Vengeance of a Slave, set a little after Boudicca's revolt by following this link.
http://mybook.to/vengeanceofaslave

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Apologies.

I've just realised I didn't do the Horselords post for January 2nd. My most sincere apologies to those of you who have been following it. I will post it on the last Tuesday of this month and then the next episode will be the following week, so we're back on schedule.

So sorry. I can only blame the busy Christmas and New Year schedule.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Review of Terry Ravenscroft's Stairway to Heven book 4, Still Hanging On.


I have recently finished reading Book 4 of Terry Ravenscroft's Stairway to Heaven books. He has been writing these autobiographical books about his life and escapades for a while now, and they are very funny.

Terry Ravenscroft was, until he retired, a scriptwriter for  many well known TV comedians and sit-coms, including such names as Les Dawson, the Two Ronnies, Morcambe and Wise and Ken Dodd as well as Alas Smith and Jones, Not the 9o'Clock News, The News Hudlines and many others.

This book does begin on a sad note when Terry tells of the sad death of his wife, The Trouble, from the earlier books. It is very clear he misses her immensely, and at first, he said he did not think he would write this book. I'm very glad he did,

Terry relates his escapades with his friend, Atkins, as well as tells of some letters he wrote to various pompous organisations. From trying to get Atkin's neighbour, who has designs on him, to desist from her advances, to an incident with a letter Atkins wrote to David Beckham and Terry replied in Beckham's place, we are kept laughing throughout the book.

I do not want to spoil it for anyone wanting to read it by saying too much of the events and escapades this book covers. Just let me say it is very funny and well worth a read.

This book is titled, 'Still Hanging On.' Keep on hanging on, Terry, long enough to write the next episode.

I have no hesitation in giving it *****.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas everyone.

I will not be posting on Tuesday as it's Boxing Day. Look out for the next episode of Horselords on January 2nd.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Some of my Christmas Cards.

I apologise for this post being late. Been busy with Christmas arrangements!

Each year I make all my own Christmas cards. On Sunday 3rd December I finished the final one for this year and am pretty pleased with them.  I thought I'd let you guys have a look at some of my endeavours as it's the Thursday before Christmas.

A Merry Chrtistmas to all my followers and visitors, and I hope 2018 is the best year yet for you all.




















Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Punctuationg Dialogue.

Today I'm going to talk about punctuating dialogue.

First of all, let me begin by defining some terms. I find writers, like many other professions, use their jargon so often they forget that new people may not know them. So here goes.

1. Tags. These are the words used to indicate who is speaking. They are things like 'he said', 'Judith whispered' and the like.

2. Beats, These are words telling you what someone is doing. e.g. Fred paced to the window. 'Are you sure she said that?' he asked.

Here, 'Fred paced to the window' is a beat.
Now we've got that out of the way, lets continue with our punctuation.
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I admit that when I started writing, I was unsure about this. I did not know what punctuation to put after the speech and after the tag. I learned by reading books and other writers' blogs. Not a bad way to learn. In fact, a very good way to learn.

The first thing I should note is that US English and British English use quotation marks the opposite way round from each other. As I am British, I use British English, and the dialogue in my books is the British Standard.

In British English, we use single quotation marks for direct speech and double quotation marks for speech quoted withiin that speech. (Not very good English there. I apologise.)

Mary said, 'Jaqui, go and see who rang the doorbell.'

and,

Jaqui said, 'It's John. He said, "I've come to return the book you lent me." Do you want to see him?'
In American English it's the other way round. The above would look like this:

Mary said, "Jaqui, go and see who rang the doorbell."

and

Jaqui said, "It's John. He said, 'I've come to return the book you lent me.' Do you want to see him?"
The quotes, either British or US go round direct speech only. If it is indirect, then there are no quotes.
This would be wrong.

'John said he came to return the book you lent him.

Whenever we write 'he said'. 'she whispered', etc, we always separate it from the quote using commas. See the above examples.

Now should the punctuation be inside or outside the quotation marks? That depends on whether it is part of the quotation or not, Here are some examples.

'How can he return a book', said Mary, 'when I never lent him one?'

'Said Mary' interrupts the sentence she is saying, which is, 'How can he return a book when I never lent him one?' The comma goes outside the quotation marks.

But if the quotation mark is part of what is being said, then it goes inside.

John said, 'Did you not lend me this book then?'

The question mark is part of John's speech so it goes inside the quotation marks. If it were a full stop (period if you are in the USA) then, as it ends John's speech, it would go inside as well.

John said, 'I'm sure I borrowed it from you.'

The punctuation goes outside the quotation marks if it is not part of the quoted material.

'What's the point of this conversation', said Susan, 'when you could find out by looking at the book?'

Now, if you have a beat, then that is completely separate.

Susan walked to the window and looked out. 'Tell John to come in and bring the book up.'

There is a full stop (period) after the beat and not a comma because it is a separate action. I would say that we only put a comma after or before a tag, not a beat.

That's enough for now, Hope I've not confused you.
Please feel free to make a comment of any kind.