Another World for Book Day

20-logo-right-downNothing makes world book day better than discovering a new fantasy world to live in for a while. As part of World Book Day’s 20th year, we are introducing you into a captivating world of adventure and fantasy.

The Woodland Realm Comes Alive

Heirs to the Kingdom (HTTK) is described by author, Robin John Morgan, was one of those ideas that grew into an obsession. What started as a side project to occupy the author as a mixture of hobby and simply something to help pass the time in his quiet hours as a single parent, raising his daughter alone, grew over a period of twenty years into a filing cabinet stuffed to the brim with notes, sketches and diagrams, of the many ideas he connected to what we now know as his central characters of Robbie and Runestone. In 2006 during a spring clean, he made the decision to sort through all of his material and rather than have a cabinet stuffed with paper, he thought it would make more sense to sort it out and transfer it all on to his computer.

bowmanfrontWhat followed was a year of copying down all his notes of what had become a fantasy existence for his two central characters who lived in the year of 2038 and beyond. Having completed the task of getting everything on the computer in a rough sequence, Robin decided to use his free time to slowly put it all into an order than would create a timeline, and show an alternative way of life in his make believe world, and Heirs to the Kingdom, the fantasy series of books was born.

What began back in 2007 as the writing of one continuous story, should find its completion this year with the final book of the series, after ten years of constant writing back to back books. His series of stories all based around his two characters and their friends and family is based around two central ideas. The first being his love of old tales from the past, which always state the hero will rise up again to return and save the day, and his second idea of what would happen if the world was struck with a catastrophic disaster that wiped out the larger percentage of the population? With nature back in charge and small groups rebuilding their communities the basic premise of the story is set, and into the mix his two teenage lead characters are placed.

HTTK begins on New Year’s Day 2038 in the snow, and as Robbie one of the central characters rises to his daily duties on the farm, he faced with the monotony of his dull life. What he thinks is a boring isolated town in the middle of nowhere is far from the truth, and as the story starts to unfold, we start to learn of sinister figure in the south, Mason Knox, who claims to be a descendant to the line of the one true King Arthur.  The country is recovering from the deadly virus that killed most of the population, and the survivors are slowly trying to rebuild from scratch a life based on what surrounds them in the wild natural world that has swept over the destroyed remains of the once era of Modern Man. But it appears our sinister figure in the south has the idea that he alone has the duty to rebuild the world back to his view of things, and so begins the separation of the people and a struggle to fight to protect the lives they have built.

carnacfrontThis is a series that develops into a full and fascinating struggle between two ideas of how the world should be, mixed with a blend of fantastic characters. When our lead hero’s companions reveal that they have some odd and mysterious powers, the story starts to twist and turn into an adventure of fantasy, built on the foundation of a very realistic way of living away from modern life as we know it, and what is seen as the Woodland realm really does come to life with some fantastic and very well thought out and insightful writing. This is without doubt a gripping adventure fantasy series that has all of the everyday aspects of life mixed with fantasy in a way that really does draw the reader into Robin’s make believe world. It feels very real and timeless, and has many moments that have you caught within pages unable to put the books down. It is thought provoking and emotional, as well as action packed with a thread of humour throughout its core that draws you deeper and deeper into this wonderfully written tale. 2017 should see the final part of this slice of life fantasy adventure story reach its final conclusion, and so now is the perfect time to get the first book and walk into a superb fantasy adventure and enjoy a year of thrills, tears, and laughter whilst fighting for survival.

These are all good reads with a high word count that makes for an immersive reading experience, they are written in an easy to follow style, which will draw you quickly into the story and captivate your imagination. The books are available now and entitled:

dunnottarfrontBook One – The Bowman of Loxley

Book Two – The Lost Sword of Carnac

Book Three – The Darkness of Dunnottar

Book Four – Queen of the Violet Isle

Book Five – Crystals of the Mirrored Waters

Book Six – Last Arrow of the Woodland Realm

Book Seven – The Bridge of Sequana.

Book Eight the final book in the series should be out later this year and will be entitled, The Ravens of Berengar.

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Start Book Day with a Play

20-logo-right-upIts World Book Day, which means it’s time to lift a book and enjoy yourself. Today VCP are featuring some of its best reads, and so why not do something a little different and choose a great and enjoyable play to read?

Heaven Knows.

Plays have become a fashionable read in recent times, none more so than the release of JK Rowling’s The Cursed Child, which has seen great success. When we were first asked if we would consider producing a play formatted book, it was new territory, but something we felt would be a good experience for us.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, by Colin Smith, has seen a lot of local success around the Manchester/Liverpool area of the UK as a stage play, and so with a recognisable title for play goers, we started work with Colin to produce the book version.

To set the scene, this is comedy, which has darker threads woven into the humour. The scenario follows the story of Andy, whom having had three marriages and has been widowed three times, after a long life dies in bed without realising it. He wakes up in a strange place not really understanding what has happened, and at first is not aware he is dead, and his soul has passed into limbo, before being assessed for entrance to heaven.

Heaven knows I'm Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

Heaven knows I’m Miserable Now by Colin Smith ISBN 978-1-910299-16-6

The story line is a chuckle fest from the first page, as he encounters his guide into the afterlife with his trainee reaper, Eva. Much to his surprise, his reaper is an attractive young female dressed in rather sexy night attire, something she feels is more welcoming. Eva is to be honest very absent minded and forgets to instruct Andy in the ways of his reaping, which just leads to yet more comedic confusion as he arrives at the reception to Heaven and enters the selection process.

Whilst editing and formatting this book there was many moments where there were outbreaks of giggles and chuckles, as the humour intensified, and we must confess it made working on this book delightfully entertaining. The selection process for Andy, which is a very entertaining and hilarious process not un-similar to the bureaucratic process of a human resources interview, reveals that his three passed wives are all in Heaven and he will be given the option to meet them, and decided which one to spend eternity with.

Whilst making his decision he is taken to a safe house until he can adjust to his new circumstances of being dead, and reflect on the choice for a partner for eternity. Much to his surprise he finds his house sharing comrades to be none other than Adolf Hitler and Jesus. What follows is a wonderful mix of great one liners and side splitting hilarity, as his new house friends help him to decide who his ideal partner for eternity is. This though provides what turns out to the funniest twist of all, because unbeknown to Andy, in heaven you can choose the life you want to be for eternity, and so all of the three women he had been married to in his living life, are very different in their afterlife.

This is a very tongue in cheek look at life and what follows, and is very funny indeed, but not only does it make you have a really good chuckle and belly laugh, surprisingly it also provides you with the chance to think about your own ideas of an afterlife. We had a few discussions amongst ourselves as we worked on the formatting of the book, and it is surprising how it does make you sit up and think about your own life and also your beliefs, in a somewhat light hearted way.

The one dilemma our author Colin had was that in the early stages of developing this play for the stage, he had two very different endings, and during the process he was torn as to which one he could use. We suggested he add both, and so this copy of the play in print form, has the added extra bonus of two ending from which you can choose your favourite, either way we think you will laugh at both.

Colin Smith Playwright

Colin Smith Playwright

This really is a very entertaining play and we feel a book you should definitely pick up when you need a break and a space to chuckle. Having worked on the book and followed it through the whole process, we are really hoping a new stage production is put on in our local area soon, so we can actually see it performed on the stage. A wonderful, light and entertaining tale, beautifully written and presented in a play format by Colin Smith.

 

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Again by Colin Smith is available now on all online book retailer sites including Amazon.

Crumble for World Book Day.

20-logo-left-downIt’s World Book Day, and it’s a special one as today is the 20th, and so we are featuring some of our best reads to get you all turning the pages. This one is especially for the children.

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale.

When we first considered putting out a children’s book, and we started the process of working with Mike, it was important to us that the book met certain expectations. Firstly it had to be an engaging story that children would enjoy, and we also felt a story that would delight any parent equally as much, when reading it to their child.

We also believe that books should contain positive advice or messages, which would aid the reader in not only understanding the story, but also understanding themselves and the life they live. To answer this we posed the question, would children take a positive message into their own life, having read this story?

Finally we looked at how the story could be enhanced; this question was answered when author Mike Beale presented us with a selection of drawings for the book, done by Illustrator Maureen Fayle.

The ultimate test of the book came when we gave it to our six year old daughter, and asked her to read it and then give us feedback on her own experience of the book.

Crumble’s Adventures, we are pleased to say passed all our criteria with flying colours. The story which evolves around Crumble, is a charming tale of a small dog who at the start of the book is homeless and alone. Wandering the streets and living off scraps, it is very clear how her existence is one of loneliness and sadness. I think every child has a point in their life where they experience this, especially at that early age where they enter a new school and have to leave their parents at the door, so the start of book struck a deep chord with all children. It can be frightening to enter the start of the real world, and here Crumble reflected all those tiny feelings that many children face.

As the story moves forward, Crumble stumbles by accident on another dog named Alex, and at this point Crumble’s fortunes take a turn for the better. Alex takes the homeless Crumble home, where she is welcomed in and given a good meal, and this is the starting point of a strong friendship, and a sense of belonging. From here on in the books takes up a positive stance as the two dogs develop their friendship and go on many adventures. From our point of view, this shows the importance of family and strong friendship, something that is a very valuable asset to all children in the early stages of their development.

Crumble's Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

What follows is an engaging tale of the dogs, with very positive messages and a few tense moments that do indeed captivate the imaginations of children. The story is adult enough for parents to comprehend the story and its meaning, yet written is such a delightfully easy to understand way that all children can relate every quickly and easily to the two dogs, and the friendship that strengthens between them. Our main test was our daughter and her understanding of this story, and it passed with flying colours as she really loved the story and became very excited as she followed it through the publishing process.

The story is enhanced by the simply wonderful artwork that is woven throughout the book. The hand sketched illustrations provided by Maureen, contain such wonderful detail that the pictures themselves jump from the page, and it brings a real sense of identity to the characters for the children to relate to and follow. 

The book has been formatted in a way that moves away from the large pictured and low print types of books that children start reading with, and carries a similar format to that of a novel for older children, but with larger print and slightly wider spacing. This we felt was an ideal way to bridge the gap between books for younger children, and serves as a way into gaining an insight into the formatting of books for older children. Spliced together with the illustrations, it forms a package that gives of a sense of a step up into a more older approach to reading, and we feel is an ideal way to help children adjust to what will come as they progress into older and more print driven books at a later stage.

In conclusion, Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale, is a simple to follow, well written story that serves as a very positive reading experience for children aged six and above. The story which is fun and exciting, is ideal for either reading to children by an adult, or as a good start for young readers who want to progress into a more print driven type of story. It is beautifully illustrated, with easy to read formatting and larger print, and we feel is an ideal first serious book for young readers.

 

 

Poetry and Me, Ted Morgan

20-logo-right-down It’s World Book Day and not only that, it’s the 20th one so it is a little more special than normal. Today the VCP blog is going to feature the work of its author’s, and felt it would be nice to learn a little more about one of our author’s, so we asked Ted if he would supply us a little history on how he started to write his poetry.

 

Poetry and Me, by Ted Morgan

My first recollections of hearing poetry was sitting on my elder sister’s knee at about the age of five and having the poem, The Elf and the Dormouse by Oliver Hereford read to me. It was from the Silver Book of Children’s Verse book 1 and that poem and many others from it have stayed with me all my life. The book disappeared from my home during my military service and I spent nearly 40 years looking for a copy of it until my late wife tracked one down with the help of a radio programme. It now has pride of place on my bookshelf.

Like all children I also had to both recite and read poetry as part of English lessons I do remember some which excited me but many others did not fire my imagination at all. Poetry was not top of the pops amongst the majority of my classmates.

I did find that I had a talent for writing funny doggerel this was appreciated by some of my fellow classmates, but not my teachers who were the butt of some of this verse, my posterior bore witness to this on a few occasions

Poetry took a back seat for many years through my military service and professional training as a general and psychiatric nurse. I would pick up the odd book of verse but did not write due to a host of other commitments.

I contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis whilst nursing; this is classed as an industrial disease for nurses and involved a prolonged spell in hospital as a not so patient, patient!

It was during this time that my muse returned and I wrote a poem called Flowers which was published in my Wordsmiths Wanderings book,

The majority of the verse that I wrote in hospital has been consigned to the dustbin and the only person who ever saw it was me. I was a secret poet and remained so for the next twenty five years.

My interest in poetry was rekindled when I started reading the war poets of the first and second war, then going on to Kipling,   the great romantic poets and finally Lancashire dialect verse. 

I was singing and playing in a folk group then started to write song lyrics which were performed in public. This was when my secret was out and I came to be recognised as a poet and lyricist. I had a poem about the taking down of a local Power-stations chimneys printed in a church l magazine it was then that some members of my family and friends saw my work

I first recognised the importance of poetry as a therapeutic tool when I was doing a residential psychotherapy workshop. A psychologist gave an example of a girl who he was treating who was so upset when he moved to another hospital, with the consequent referral of her to another therapist that she articulated her sorrow in verse to him. I will always remember the first line of her poem “he has cut a shape in my air by his gentleness.”  Here we have the expression of her emotion in such a simple and beautiful way. I have used poetry with patients who found it hard to define their feelings, but writing how they feel in verse does seem to aid concentration and allows them to use metaphors and simile’s when talking about traumatic emotions and events.

I retired from nursing 23 years ago at the age of 55 and did lots of traveling Woodwork, Gardening, walking and all the physical things that one now had the time and energy to do.

I purchased a computer and that was the real start of my serious writing, I felt that I had to set down just how I felt about the world around me and the joy and enjoyment that I had got from my love of the countryside. Poetry was the answer.  My wife had many relatives in Canada and I became very close to a big hearted ex Toronto cop with a warped sense of humour. I suppose nurses and cops do see life in the raw, sad at times but also hilarious. My gift for comic doggerel was given lots of practice and I lampooned him unmercifully. My verse then drew in the rest of this large and extended family.

I think the turning point in my journey into writing was when my wife contracted breast cancer in 2000 the emotional shock was severe to both of us  and I had to support her through  her operation, radiotherapy and prolonged drug treatment. I used writing poetry as a help for me to express my innermost feelings so that I would not “bottle things up”. To see how you feel written on paper at a stressful period of your life is therapeutic, as some of my patients found many years before, I was now using the same treatment on myself and it helped. After 2 years my wife was pronounced free from cancer and life returned to normal.

 

Wordsmith's Wanderings by Ted Morgan.  ISBN9781910299043

Wordsmith’s Wanderings by Ted Morgan. ISBN9781910299043

IN 2010 my wife’s cancer returned and I became her full time carer My life changed and I spent long periods of time running the house looking after my wife and because I could not go out, writing my feelings down.

It was during this period I wrote my poem The Carer this has resonated with so many people in that position, it has been published in a MS magazine and it does describe just what you do.

I can remember sitting with my wife reading it to her for the first time with tears streaming down both our faces. All she said was “it’s so true but beautiful”

My writing became more prolific and I feel that through practice my use of words improved so much that I allowed my son’s to read my efforts.

In 2013 my wife passed away, She was in a hospice for the last week of her life I was a physical and emotional wreck, but I still wrote verse.

Some of my emotionally charged poems were written at this time and when they were eventually published in my book these poems have elicited the biggest response. Only last week I had a lady say I could not read all your book last night because the ones about your wife made me cry. I just said” then I have succeeded in what I set out to do”. If you can write verse that touches people deeply and gives them the emotional response which you felt when you wrote it, your own joy at this success is indeed a bonus.

I have had lots of conversations with my readers about many themes that I have written about; my works has provided a bridge of communication and allowed them to reveal how they feel about a multitude of both sad and humorous events. I think that if you write honestly and make yourself venerable though your verse, your readers recognise this and most react in a positive way.

 I have had my work published in a number of magazines and journals but my greatest pleasure was to hold my first published book in my hand. . My only regret was that my dear wife Pat never lived to see it.

MY Poetry Blog  edwardmorgan4@wordpress.com.

 captureperegrinations-cover

Teds has two poetry books in print: Both are available on Amazon or any online books retailer.

Wordsmiths Wanderings.

Peregrinations of the Wordsmith.