Monday, 5 December 2016

I have released a couple of books this last week (well, 1 book in 2 formats.) It's not fantasy and not fiction.
It's letters written home from WW2 by an RAMC corpsman between 1939 and 1941.
They are interesting for the glimpse into the home life of an ordinary working class Christian family in the late 1930s/early 40s
Here's the link to the paperback.
With all my Love. Edited by Joan Lightning

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A dark year

Well, it's been a long time since my last post.
Initially because I, at last, have a chance of publishing properly so have been very busy editing the book in line with the agent's advice.
It has, however, also been a very dark year in which we have seen both the UK and the US take several steps along the path towards fascism. It's very hard to find light in the darkness when politicians grasp power by preying on people's fear of difference, and by exaggerating, and outright lying.
History has seen politicians gain power before using the spectre of the 'outside enemy' who is trying to destroy the country . It never ever leads anywhere good.
Day 1 after the election in the US has gone much the same as day 1 after Brexit did here; racists feel empowered and think that their disgusting beliefs are now mainstream and tolerated.
What light is there? Especially when our own leaders encourage and support similar views?

The only light I see is that other people are not staying quiet in the face of such hatred. I hope THAT continues until we once again are a country where difference is welcomed and tolerated, or at least, is met with courtesy and not insult. I hope that America can find its feet and that President Trump turns out to possess far more wisdom than he has shown thus far. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Near-infrared photo. The sun's fingertips touching the trees at sunset.

The last rays of the sun as it sinks out of sight brush the tops of the trees and make them glow. This effect is particularly stunning when seen in near infra-red. The image was taken with a Panasonic G1 that has been adapted to full-spectrum. I used a Hoya 25A red filter (which blocks out all visible light below 590nm). The image was processed from raw using Silkypix and then channel-swapped and enhanced in Gimp.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Origins of the Guardians of Reyth.

This was originally the prologue to volume 2. It may eventually end up in a later volume, or as part of something on its own. I'm going to serialise it here for the next few days.

The origin of the Guardians of Reyth Part 1
3,326 years ago.
Taris stared out of the window, but saw little other than smoke and falling ash.
Exactly forty-three minutes had passed since the ground had rocked savagely beneath his feet as the final trap snapped closed out on the distant battlefield.
He felt the formation of a translocation nimbus in the room behind, and turned to greet the expected messenger; a woman appeared. She looked tired and her clothes were covered in dust and dried blood. The sick look in her eyes told him all he needed to know, but he asked anyway.
“Report, Messenger Erlin. Was the trap successful?”
The woman nodded. “Yes, Commander, it was. Totally. The foe is utterly destroyed and we are victorious.”
Although her words were the best of news, her voice sounded more as though she was reporting a defeat. She sounded appalled, shocked, and disbelieving.
Taris could understand that. They had designed the final trap to kill as many as possible, but their foe had formerly been their closest friends and family.
His people, known across the universe by a wide variety of names, but simply as The First to themselves, were hairless, light-skinned, extremely tall, slim and, compared to many of the younger races, looked physically frail. All of them were effectively immortal: they neither aged, nor suffered from illness. They did not eat or drink, but were able to absorb nutrients directly from the elements around them, and if injured could heal themselves as long as they were sufficiently conscious.
The final trap was designed to inflict such severe injury that the rebels caught by it would pass out and die before they could repair their wounds.
“How many of them were killed?” he asked, fearing the reply.
Erlin hesitated before answering.
‘Light!’ thought Taris. ‘Can it really be so bad?’
“Only one survived, Commander. All the others are confirmed dead.”
Taris gasped, he had expected large numbers killed, but…
“All but one killed?” he repeated, hoping that somehow he had misheard.
His own son, Ardel, had joined the rebels several years earlier, persuaded by the ideas of their leader, Keash. He would have been out there on the plain when the trap was sprung.
Erlin nodded. “Yes, Commander, all but one,” she confirmed. “He was badly injured and near death when we found him, but is now healed, warded, and under guard.” She paused and then finished, “His name is Xian.”
Taris nodded, and turned away, to stare out of the window once more. His mind filled with images from the past: a small boy’s delight when his Gifts began to appear, his rapid mastery of them, Ardel’s pride the day he took the Oath of Service to the Creator of all, and his pride at being among those chosen to protect this world.
Last to pass through Taris’ memory, was Ardel’s cold, determined, face as he announced that he was joining the rebels, and that when next he and his father met, it would be across the field of battle.
Somewhere out there, his son’s body lay waiting for him to claim it.
Unusually for his race, Taris had two other children, but neither of them had been among those chosen to protect this world while its young inhabitants matured. He thanked the Creator for that. They at least were safe and uncontaminated by the strange notions that had run through his inherited command like some form of plague.
He could hear Erlin’s breathing as she waited patiently behind him, and he knew that she was expecting a response from him.
He took a deep breath and turned back to her. “What of the Faithful? How many of our side did we lose to death?”
She answered that question more readily.
“Only three more departed life before they could heal or be healed; our Lord was with us today.” She managed a tired smile.
That was unexpectedly good news, and Taris forced himself to put aside memories of his lost son, and smiled back at her.
“That, at least, is good; we have lost too many over the last decades.”
He glanced out the window again, and then nodded decisively.
“I will view the battleground, Erlin, and see for myself the damage that we have done to this world in order to protect it from our own people. Later, I will see Xian, and decide what we should do with him. Tell Captain Brath that I will find him within the hour to discuss the problem. You may leave, Messenger Erlin, and thank you.”
She bowed and then translocated from the room. Taris concentrated, but was unable to create a translocation link to the battle field. Creator of all! Had it altered that much?
He pictured several places in his mind that were in the vicinity, but failed each time he attempted to create the link. Eventually he found a place, several miles from the battleground, which still matched his memory of it closely enough to allow translocation.
A second later he stood in the garden of a ruined building and stared in disbelief at the landscape before his eyes. The land, on which he stood, had once been at the edge of a plateau that overlooked a wide plain through which ran a large river. The river had flooded regularly each spring depositing silt onto the plain, making it a fertile and pleasant land.
It had been inhabited, Taris remembered, though he knew little of the folk who had lived there most recently. The sea had been clearly visible from this vantage point, the mouth of the river flowing into a large bay, beside which had been several villages. The battle had raged across that plain in recent months, laying waste the fields and orchards, and the former inhabitants had fled. Taris had expected to see devastation, but had not been prepared for the sight that now met his eyes.

Friday, 4 March 2016

A ray of light

And here is a perfect example:
A woman dying of cancer. Somehow her favourite singer hears about her and takes the time to send a message. A ray of light in the darkness bringing a moment of pure happiness to a dying woman.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Good from bad. It does happen.

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8 v28 is often misinterpreted to mean that God makes sure that everything works out for the good of his followers. (Especially by the very mistaken 'prosperity' believers who think that God is actually working to make them wealthy. Take another long hard look at how most of his disciples lived and died and ask yourself if your faith is as strong as theirs. THEY weren't made wealthy by following. Jesus didn't live as a rich man...
However, I digress from my subject. I will get back on topic.)

As you probably can guess, I disagree. I think it means that, those who follow him can see that whatever happens, happens for the best.It's not for their own good, but for God's plan.

Everything? You ask. Everything, one way or another, works for good. However, you personally may never see that good, or know what it was.

Everything? Even a child dying from cancer? How can that work for good? I do not know. It's on my list of things to ask about when I get the chance.

However, this blog is supposed to be largely an attempt to find good in bad (as well as occasionally showcasing my novel and photos). Today I saw good come out of something bad that happened 3 years ago.
3 years ago, this month, I was driving along minding my own business, when a car shot out of a junction, the driver looking off to the right and not in my direction, and that car smashed straight into my car's wing.
My car was a write off. I woke next morning with whiplash, and the impact had triggered an old back injury. It took months to heal. Even now, I still have occasional trouble with it. 

I had to stop most of my martial arts training and just do Taichi (and even that was very painful.)
My 50th birthday plans were ruined. I had no car and no money for another one or for any kind of birthday celebrations. I did eventually get money from the insurance, but it took a long time for most of it to come through. I put on weight (through doing less exercise) which I've never been able to shift. It was a really bad year.

Today I saw some good come from that crash. Today, a middle aged man with a walking stick is not in hospital or the morgue.

How? I will explain.
I still have to drive along that same street, but since the accident I am very cautious as I approach that junction. I know that anyone coming out of there has almost no view to the left (which is why it's a 'stop' junction and not a 'give-way'.)
Tonight, as usual, as I approached that junction I slowed down, just in case. Several cars were coming the other way. As I slowed, the last of those cars went by and I suddenly saw a middle-aged pedestrian with a walking-stick in the middle of the road about to step in front of me. It was dark, the road is poorly lit, and he was wearing dark clothes.
As I already had my foot on the brake, I was able to stop quickly and he crossed safely waving his thanks.

So that is how an accident, 3 years ago, saved a man from being run over today. If I hadn't already had my foot on the brake I might not have been able to stop in time.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

In amongst all the general rubbish on FB, I saw this. A reminder that people sometimes can be honest and wonderful.

The post read:
After a couple of hours shopping at Milton Keynes shopping centre, I loaded up the car with Jaxons push chair and shopping etc, forgetting to put the nappy bag in the boot. Drove off like a numpty and realised at the petrol station, I had no bag or purse.
Feeling sick with panic, I searched the area near where I had parked, asked in the shopping centre and went to the police station.
After giving up hope, I drove home to cancel my cards etc and found this kind person had left my bag on my front door under my recycling box and posted my purse through the door.
I had approx £200 cash in my purse, plus loads of gift vouchers, which I'd just brought and every single penny was still in my purse.
I'm so happy and relieved to know there are good people in mk.
I don't have any details for this person, they just left this attached note.
Please share and help me to say thanks to this wonderful honest person.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

I didn't find any hidden beauty in that last post, did I?
Must try harder.

Social networking awareness posts. 'May I ask a favour'

We've all seen them, at least, those of use who use social networking services have: those posts.
They begin with a long post about something that devastates lives, such as cancer or depression or child abuse. Then you read the words 'May I ask a favour?' followed by a request to copy paste the post to your own status for an hour or a day. The reason for this request is to 'raise awareness' or 'show that you care' or 'in memory of someone you knew who suffered'. The request is accompanied by statements like '90% of people won't do this' and 'if I don't see your name, I will understand'.

By this time I am usually steaming! Understand? What will you understand, may I ask?
Oh the implications are clear: only the ten percent of special people who have a compassionate soul will share it. If you don't it's because you don't care about anything but yourself.

No, actually, your 'understanding' is wrong.

These posts are the social networking equivalent of dropping 2p and a boiled sweet into a charity collection. It's minimum effort, no expense, and you get to feel that you helped, even if just a little. You don't even have to spend any time writing your own thoughts on the subject, just copy what someone else wrote.

They prove nothing. Ignoring doesn't mean that I don't care, it means that I react badly when someone tries to use peer pressure and psychological shaming to try to force me to 'prove' that I care.  Waving a big red flag with 'I care' on it (or sharing a status) is so much cheaper and easier than actually doing anything useful.

If you think that ignoring those posts makes me a bad person, that's not my problem.

Luke 18 v10 seems to apply here.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A good samariton

The news always seems to concentrate on dark days and terrible events, but here is something good that makes a dark day seem brighter. A woman took her son to hospital and then, unexpectedly ended up staying the night. She came out to find not one. but two, parking tickets. (I'm puzzled about the second because I thought that you can't be fined twice for the same parking offence.)
There was something else on her windscreen: an envelope containing £25 and a note saying to pay it and forget it.

I want to think about the person who left that money. He or she didn't know about the sick child. They may have guessed that the car had been left during a hospital visit, but they couldn't know that for certain.
That person was willing to take a chance that the driver was detained by illness, willing to part with £25 to help, and also willing to take a chance that the money wouldn't be stolen by a passerby.

Someone was willing to help a stranger, completely anonymously, including parting with money.

That's a fine example of what I mean by a fingertip of light.

The EU. In or out? To Brexit or not to Brexit?

The European Union
The EU, that massive political nuisance foisted on us sneakily over the top of the old EEC.
In June this year we will, at long last, have a referendum on whether or not we should remain in it with all those 'Johnny Foreigners', not to mention the Germans, and worse: the French!
To read some tabloids you would think that the Empire still exists, WW2 was last week, and the Napoleonic Wars ended the week before.

We actually are friends with those countries now, y'know.

Them and Us.
People just love to blame war on religion, stating that if we ditch religion, we end the reason and causes for war.
It's not about religion and it actually never has been. Religious wars are far outnumbered throughout history by wars for land, over women, food, water, honour, insult, and even boredom. There is one thing and one thing only that causes wars, and that is 'Them' and 'Us'.

Human beings form cliques and then fight to protect/expand/avenge/feed them.  They tell themselves that 'we' are better than 'them'. Our football club is better, our skin is prettier, our favourite TV show is more intellectual, our clothes are nicer, our schools are better, our people more intelligent, our skulls show that we are more evolved, our god is real, our specific order of service is right, our understanding of grammar is better, we have indoor plumbing, we don't baptise children.
'They' are not completely human, they follow a useless football team, their skin is a different (and uglier) colour, they watch stupid low-brow TV, they wear silly fashions, their schools teach nothing, their average IQ is low, their skulls contain less forebrain, their god is a silly fantasy god. they don't have an order of service, they don't understand apostrophes, they don't have toilets at all and have to 'go' in the fields, they baptise children.

The lists are endless. Every single thing that I have listed has either been the cause of a war or a reason why the enemy is sub-human and needs to be put in his or her 'place'. (Using the word 'war' here to mean any battle, no matter how small or large. It's all the same thing, no matter how many people pile into the fight, yelling and aiming to hurt as many as possible.)

What has this to do with Brexit?

Just this:
Leaving the EU is part of this 'them' and 'us' attitude.
There's nothing wrong in being proud about what British people achieved in history, but it doesn't make us special. Every country has things of which its people can be proud.

It's that fragmentation into 'we are better than them' that is so dangerous.

The strongest groups are the ones who put aside lesser differences in order to stand together. The bigger the group saying 'we are one', the stronger. We need our groups to get bigger, not smaller.

Look at the US. They have their internal 'them' and 'us' divisions (Republican v Democrat, racism, south and north, indigenes and everyone who's not) but push them and suddenly they're shoulder to shoulder (ok with some jostling) and squaring up for a fight. Now I'm not saying that 'we' should emulate 'their' willingness to escalate a war (see what I did there?) but the fact is that that ability to suddenly spread 'us' to include everyone (or almost everyone) on the continent does make them strong. If they split off into individual States, each one becoming a separate kingdom with its own army and government, and no over-ruling central control, they would not be strong.
When the UK was many small kingdoms, conquest was easy. The Romans did it one kingdom at a time. The Angles and Saxons and Danes also sailed in and took possession every few decades.
Once those kingdoms united, conquest was a lot harder. The Normans managed it, but that was over a thousand years ago. Unity, not division, increases strength.

It's really that simple. We need 'us' to include as many human beings on this planet as possible. We need 'us' to be able to dismiss lesser differences as unimportant if threatened from outside.
We need to remember that we are one race and any differences should be something to celebrate, not fight over.

Leaving the EU weakens us all. If there are inequalities we should address them from within, not pick up our toys and walk off in a huff.

#eureferendum #brexit #eu #uk

Friday, 19 February 2016

Here is an example of the sort of thing I am talking about in the description section of this blog. Although there aren't actually any fingertips of light present, the general effect is the same.
It was shortly after sunset, and the sky was clear. The sky was still a deep and vibrant blue, and the horizon glowed orange.
The building site is not really all that pretty in daylight. It's all concrete beams and girders, but for a short time after sunset the yellowish lights made it stand out and look amazing against the blue and orange of the sky, and the reds and purples of the old magistrates court on the right. Add in the reflections from the river, and suddenly the ugly building site looks quite spectacular.

Copyright notice

Falling Shadows

Guardians of Reyth volume 1

© 2015 P.J. Lightning.
Inspired by an original idea by C. S. Newsome ©2008
(–Used with kind permission.)
And so it begins.
Once upon a  time.
It was a dark and stormy night.

No, I didn't use any of those to start my book, I began with a death - a tragedy to introduce the hero's father, and some other characters who would become important later on.
Why? Because the death made everything that followed possible. I can't go into too much detail about that without spoiling part of the plot, but as Tamsin's legacy was so important I wanted her to have one scene, even if it was only a brief one.
As it's my book, I get to put in what I want. Great isn't it?