There is always a tomorrow.

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It has been over a month since I last posted on this blog.

That is not because I have been lazy, or that I have had nothing of interest to share, it is simply that I have a full life and priorities are in constant flux.

Take this morning for an instance; I awoke with three tasks on my mind. Three simple little chores that needed attending to. The same three chores I thought of last night when I crawled under the duvet.

I have now, at seven o’clock on an evening accomplished all three of those jobs. They are done and dusted. Finished.

BUT…and this is the point…I have only just completed the last of those three tasks.

You see, life came between the plan I had in mind when I retired last night, the same basic idea which was in my head, as I stumbled from my bed and bounced off the walls on my way to the bathroom, while rubbing the sleepy-man’s dust from my eyes this morning.

Other things swam to the top of the quagmire of the ‘urgent’ lake. Like festering bubbles of noxious gasses, they rose swiftly to the surface of ‘to do now’ forcing other tasks and more pleasant jobs back under the surface of crucial undertakings.

I am not a list man, not any longer anyways. I now, in my years of semi-retirement, prefer the ‘Mañana’ approach to life. I am a firm believer that ‘Irie’ is a far better way to avoid a heart-attack than a daily dose of aspirin.

Therefore, slotting another job into a day, or in fact removing one, causes me no stress or bother. Even the prioritising of these tasks are not really my concern, I allow other people, notably my wife, to dictate the order in which they should be undertaken, if not completed.

I am happy to simply bumble along, plodding my way from errand to errand. Those that are concluded are concluded, those that remain undone, or partial are left as such until the next sunrise.

Simple.

 

This is the way I think it would be best for all of us to live our lives.

As I said at the start of this post, I have a fairly full life which means that all things in my world are constantly and consistently changing, which is the one thing which stays the same!

It is a way of life I have got used to, I have honed the skill of relaxation so that now it looks like I am working. The truth is the same of work, only of course vice-versa.

I consider that to stay de-stressed, calm and collected in this high-speed, terabyte infused, interweb fed technological day and age is a rather rare talent.

But please, consider this…

I have not seen many Rastafarians that look particularly stressed-out if the electricity bill is a day late being settled.

The Spanish Lothario, your amante muy joven, will not be rushed from the bedroom to attend a job interview.

All those things will happen; they will come again in due course. There is no reason to stress about them right now.

Yes, as with my day today, things will alter.

Some things will transcend others, they will, for a short period of time, become prominent in your mind, urgent if you wish to use that term. But they are transitional, they are themselves just another ripple in our flux of life.

Many of these urgencies, the pressures of time and such restraints, are unworthy of true measure. They are false, fake, self-imposed, self-accepted limits.

Take a step back I say. Reassess exactly why it is you are rushing around, why you are stressing out.

Consider this…what is the worst thing that could happen if you do not complete that task within the time limit you have set?

Accept that.

Think. Is it really important enough for you to become so agitated, for your blood-pressure to soar, for your heart to pump so fast?

I think not. Do not allow them, do not allow circumstance to rule your life like that.

Live your own life. Chill out a little.

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There is always a tomorrow.

If there is no tomorrow, there will be no worries either.

Simple.

Now, my own tasks for this day are done, or can wait until ‘later’.

I am going to sit and write some more of my forthcoming novel ‘Floyd’, which I have FLOYD6finalfrntjpgneglected for too long. It will be nice to get re-acquainted with this psychopathic murderer. 

 

I may get one thousand words written tonight, I may get absolutely none down on paper at all.

But then I have tomorrow.

Don’t I?

See you all on the other side, Paul.


To find out more about me, my works and what I am up to right now take a mosey around my website at

 http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white
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F**k your writing. Or…(an essay regarding the use of expletives and profane language in fictional writings)

 

In polite, or politically correct circles one may refer to it as the ‘F word’.

This word first became a public literary issue after it was use in a major novel, Norma Mailer’s ‘The Naked and the Dead’, published in 1948.

Only, it was NOT.

Mailer’s publisher prevailed upon him to change this expletive; this four-lettered, description of sex, to ‘Fug’, so that it did not offend readers.

Given the fact that the book is about men during a war, ‘Fug’ occurred an awful lot of times!

The result was a backlash, a cluster of criticism and discussion in literary circles. This gave rise to the anecdote about Tallulah Bancroft saying to Mailer, “Oh, you’re the man who can’t spell that word”.

 

However, times change.

Nowadays the F-word has lost much of its ability to shock. Far fewer people are now offended by its inclusion in a book or, for that matter, in conversation. Still, authors often debate the role of ‘racy-talk’ in literature.

How much is too much? When have you gone too far, or not far enough?

Okay, before we get stuck with just this one word, let us consider the vast and rich palette of risqué words available and to clarify their ‘technical’ differences. Once we can differentiate between profanities, obscenities, curses and the like, it should be easier to determine how, why and if we should use them.

 

PROFANITY

Is often used to denote an objectionable word. ‘Profanity’ literally means words that are proscribed profane – that is words described by religious doctrine. ‘Proscribed’, in this context means ‘forbidden by written order’, such as, in Judeo-Christian tradition, taking the Lords name in vain (that is, not in Prayer).

“For the love of God, stop complaining” or “Jesus Christ, look at the size of that thing”.

 

CURSES

These call upon a deity, or fate, to cause harm in a visitation.

(Mild) “Damn this zipper”.

(Strong) “God Damn her”.

‘Damned’ is to be condemned to Hell.

‘Hell’ can also be a curse, “Go to Hell”, or a mild profanity, as in “Oh, Hell, the rivers polluted again!”

 

SWEAR WORDS

To swear literally means to take an oath, or to proclaim an oath.

Now, for anyone uncertain about oaths, (married folk take note!) An oath is a resolution or promise which calls upon a deity’s assistance in carrying it out. (Think about how many are in your marriage now!).

Examples: “God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again” or simpler, “By God I’ll show you”

You can swear to bear witness, as in “I swear, you are the best cook in this town”

 

OBSCENITIES

These are words that denote something disgusting or morally abhorrent. (Often connoting sex). The F-word is considered to be one of the most objectionable, along with the C-word.

The relatively modern inclusion of adding the prefix ‘Mother’ often ups-the-ante!

Non, or less objectionable variants of the present participle form of the F-word, beside ‘Fugging!’ include, Fecking, Freaking, flipping and fricking.

To be totally honest, I have no idea why the letter ‘U’ seems to be so ‘flaming’ important!

‘Screw’ is accepted as of the milder and therefore more acceptable terms. Please note, both the F-word and ‘screw’ are used not just used to literally describe intercourse, but to connote ‘Taking advantage of’.

“That Garage screwed me out of £300 for unnecessary repairs”

Generally, words referring to both male and female pelvic areas are considered obscenities.

 

VULGERISMS

I Like this one because this word, this term, covers a lot of bases. If it is crude, objectionable and falls outside the aforementioned categories, you have a vulgarism!

‘Bitch’, ‘Son of a Bitch’, ‘Bastard’, ‘Jackass/Ass, Asshole’ and even ‘Crap’ fall under this heading.

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Now…whether use should use, or not use, any (or all) of the above?

The literary world is somewhat divided around the use of spicy talk, which should not be surprising as our readers are as equally split.

Take two ‘Tough-Guy’ authors, Lee Child and Tom Clancy. Lee does not use any profanities in his writing. Most readers do not notice this. Whereas Tom’s books are littered with profanities…and he certainly sells a lot of copies!

Some readers may be turned off by even one, single, solitary curse word…possible? Maybe. But what is certain is that no-one will buy your books purely because you use raw language. (Although at one time, years ago, they may have well done so).

Does all this mean your safest path is to use no raw language at all?

Writing is a journey and all journeys involve some form of risk. History proves that some writers achieved success, or at least notoriety, because they shunned propriety. Harry Caulfield’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was shocking in its era and may still be so to young teenagers today.

As you write, look for a balance with what you feel comfortable writing, what you, as the narrator feels is right within your style for this book and what suits the characters and the story you are creating.

What may be right for one piece of work maybe wrong for another.

 

Okay…Why ‘TO USE’

We humans get angry. We crave precise expression and there is something about cursing and using vulgar language that works for us as a release valve for our emotions.

Who has not, at some time, experienced a moment when a string of expletives has not felt exquisitely sublime rolling off your tongue?

The same is so for your fictional characters. Be true, be honest to them. Let them have their voice.

Moreover, if you want your stories to be realistic about the settings, battlefields, bars and domestic disharmony, well-written raw language will bring your characters to life, give them a heartbeat and authenticity.

 

HOW TO USE

Spicy language generally works best when it’s used sparingly, or at least in moderation. That way, you preserve the element of the unexpected, which can be a pressure-reliever for both character and reader. Aside from conveying anger or frustration, raw talk can also be humorous, in that it reveals how a character truly feels about something.

Take this line for an instance: “I ate another doughnut”.

Compare it with: “I ate another goddamned doughnut”.

You instantly get a clue about this character and her relationship with doughnuts.

You may have one character who habitually uses profanity, in contrast to others who don’t. That, in itself, is a good individualiser.

If you, yourself, are not too familiar with foul language a problem can occur when used wrongly, or as often happens with inexperienced writers, it is thrown in will-nilly. If it is used it MUST sound real. If you are uncertain try visiting areas where this language is commonly used, construction sites, wharves, military establishments and prisons for example. Grab a coffee in a nearby café at lunchtime and eavesdrop on the clientele’s conversations!

However, a word of warning. Even if, say a group of Miners, use an expletive every other word, it is unnecessary for you to make your own characters speak exactly that way. Just as when using dialects and accents, you have to use raw-talk wisely. This helps keep the reader grounded in your imaginary world and avoids the pitfalls of over-use/over doing it.

Consider your characters, employ common sense.

A hospital Matron, wearing a starched linin apron, may not utter a single un-PC word in public, but she may let loose a barrage in the principal’s office over a dispute, or howl out a string of profanities during sexual fulfilment.

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How NOT to USE

I mentioned some writers, Norman Mailer and Tom Clancy who chose to include bad-language into their works, but they pale into insignificance, almost, when it comes to literary genius. The bard himself, William Shakespeare, knew how to spice-up his writings and attract an audience in doing so.

He wrote the mother of all literary cuss-outs. (Cuss is simply a variant of Curse), in King Lear; but interestingly there is no profanity or obscenity as we know it, merely terrifically imaginative vulgarisms, delivered with passion. Here it is, the Earl of Kent preparing to thrash the crap out of Goneril’s loathsome lackey, Oswald:

KENT (TO OSWALD): “A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch, one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition”.

Knowing the historical references helps; for example, “broken meats” means leftover table scraps. But even without that, we can luxuriate in the rant. This is a beautiful speech for many reasons: It’s forceful, it’s unique, it covers many aspects of insult, it clearly communicates one character’s contempt of another, and—important for many in Shakespeare’s audience—it avoids serious curses and obscenities.

It’s a shining example of how a writer can invent insults way more entertaining than those found in the standard lexicon.

You can do it by brainstorming aspects of your characters and their circumstances:

“He was as appealing as a baboon’s butt”.

“You are the worst thing to happen to the world since call waiting”.

“May you be condemned to an eternity of weak coffee, warm gin and a driveway paved with roofing nails”.

By now, I think you will agree that it’s useful to explore—and perhaps even challenge—your own comfort zone.

Certainly if it is not you, it won’t ring true. But whether you decide to write common curses and vulgarisms into your work or not, your characters do need a verbal pressure valve. Do not use tacky asterisks to replace vowels. Just have fun with the process and remember that a ‘fug’ by any other name might sound remarkably original.

 

NOTE.

If your novel purports to reflect real life, then they must include profanity, if the life they reflect includes the use of profanities.

Let’s get real folks, you may have grown up in an era when books and movies were censored, but do you really think that in the Old West, cowboy’s actually said “You no-good-so-and-so” before drawing their six-shooters and blowing holes in one another?

Did the troops, dug into their fox-holes during WWII always speak in to each other in such a decorous manner?

I think not!

Some popular entertainment admittedly goes OTT in drenching dialogue in profanity, Such as in the opening sequences of ‘Born on the 4th of July’, but that is an exaggeration, not a fabrication, of reality.

 

So, why do people swear?

This will not cover any new territory. I expect that every angle regarding this has been covered in about every bar in every corner of the world!

People swear because the majority of profanity is emotionally charged. It can express anger, fear, sadness, joy, despair, frustration, ignorance, racism, homophobia, ageism, violence, sexism and all the other ‘isms’ and ‘tions’ you can name.

Occasionally a swear word can encompass all the above in a single word. That one word can grab people’s attention like no other when timed appropriately and, let us face it, very few things are quite as entertaining as listening to a person who has raised profanity to an art form.

You may disagree with those statements. I do not give a flying F**k…see what I mean!

When read that you do so as if I had written the word in full. Even though I ‘bleeped’ it out your mind supplied the details. Now your reaction was either positive or negative, depending on your personal personality. But you reacted.

Like I mentioned above, nothing ground breaking. Just a prelude to the answer you are seeking.

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‘Should YOU use profanity in YOUR writing?’

Writing is a process which takes pieces of ourselves and puts it ‘out-there’ for the world to see. It does not matter if you are writing literary fiction or genre fiction. Every character, setting, plot and sub-plot reveals a little about who we, as writers, are.

I doubt, very much, if a single day passes without you worrying about what you are writing.

(read that again if you wish, I’ll wait).

You see, every word we scribe invites judgment, criticism, commentary and, perhaps introspection. When we write something which surprises us, we often, most times, question where it came from.

That is because that we writers are a real self-conscious group. We are half scared to death of rejection! But if we filtered every word, considered the perception of each sentence through, say our Mothers, or Fathers, minds we would write nothing. Nothing at all.

What we have, what is so special, so personal is that little bit of ourselves that we add to the mix. Some reveals itself in plot, some in character, but most in the voice, in the narration, in our storytelling. That is where much of our fears lie, in revealing too much of ourselves, exposing our innermost to that ridicule and rejection.

BUT…if you do not add that to the mix the reader will smell you coming from a mile away. You will small like a fake, read like a fake and be discarded as a fake.

So, how does that answer the question about using profanities in your writing?

CONSIDERATIONS

As a writer you need to be true to yourself. You need to be true to your characters and voice. But don’t forget the other people you need to be true to:

Your Audience/Genre – If you forget who your audience is, for a single sentence or word, you will have lost them. If your audience demands a lack of profanity, then you had better not allow profanity to slip into your work. Not unless you are OK with alienating the very people you are trying to reach.

Your Editor – Your editor wants you to succeed. Your editor wants you…needs you…to sell books. You ignore your editor’s advice at your own peril.

Yourself – I know I have said this before, but I repeat it here for a different reason. If profanity is something that you are personally uncomfortable with then you will sound fake if you try to use it, regardless of the character in question. In fact, if a lack of profanity is one of your defining personal characteristics, then your characters will sound fake if you use it. Because, after all, your characters are nothing more than an extension of yourself. An audience can smell a fake a mile away. Be true to yourself, whether that means using profanity or avoiding it.

I am not going to tell you the world is going to smell like roses after you write something that raises people’s eyebrows. Especially if those eyebrows belong to people who are closely related to you, or who travel in social groups that are important to you. But you did not become a writer to fit in, did you?

I hope not.

Your writing has a chance to entertain, move, and bring people together.

It has a chance to shine a light on topics you care about in ways other writers have not.

It also has a chance to alienate you.

There is a chance your writing will be considered so offensive that society wants nothing to do with you. It is doubtful it will ever get that bad! but writing is taking a risk. Every time you put pen to paper you are stripping down and getting naked in front of the world.

There is never going to be a time where you do not question, at least once, “should I have written that?”

Recently I have read plentiful cursing in Stephen King novels, Nora Roberts books, and even (very sparingly) in John Grisham stories.

I have seen the use of cursing in both genre fiction and literary fiction. In some books just a little and in some a fair amount.

So, in full and final answer to the question… You are a writer. Welcome aboard the crazy train!

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© Paul White 2016


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It’s not just, “In God We Trust”.

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 Here is something that has crossed my mind recently (on several occasions).

TRUST.

So much can be read into that single word, can it not?

Honestly, how many people do you actually trust?

It would be passé for me to ask who you would trust with your life.

Firstly, because that could take so many forms; from combat, to saving you choking on a chicken bone and because we trust people with our lives each and every day.

When you fly you are trusting the pilot, when you take a cab you are trusting the driver; there are doctors, surgeons, police and such like; so in the grand scheme of things trusting someone with your life is not so alien, in fact it is most common.

But let me ask you this:

Who would you lend your last few dollars to?

I mean your last dollars; the money you depend on; the money you need to live by. Who would you trust to repay that money on time?

Who would you let house sit, or house swap with you? Who would you trust not to pry into your private closets, or rummage through your underwear drawer?

To whom would you show your browsing history, or private files, without the fear of being judged?

I guess you could count those people on one hand?

Maybe I am wrong; maybe you are lucky. Or maybe you have more fingers on your hand than I do!

Okay, so trust can be considered on many levels, I agree.

But I have a feeling that you may trust someone you have not met, or have never seen, a little less than you might trust your neighbor, or a work colleague, even an acquaintance; you know, one of those people who are almost your friend!

Am I right?

Generally, I think I am.

Which brings me here, to the point of this rambling.

I often ask people, complete and total strangers to trust me every day. I ask many of them for money, in return for promises.

Why?

Because I offer some services. You see, apart from being a writer and an author, I design books covers, I have an online magazine and a book promotion site.

When it comes to designing covers I promise I shall do my best to create an eye-catching cover, one that will attract people to take a look, to ‘pick the book up and investigate’. Initially I only have my word to give.

I rely on a person’s trust.

The same is true of my magazine.

People buy features and advertising, often two or three months in advance. They are trusting me to produce the magazine, to distribute it, to hold up my end of the bargain.

On my book promotion website, the trust is, that I will provide information as promised, list books as agreed, market the site and so on.

I know I am honest. I know I will do everything within my abilities to ensure I deliver, to keep my promises. Yet many of those who place their trust in me do not know that, not initially, not the first time we make an agreement.

Luckily, I have a track record of successfully completing the tasks I undertake.

I have lots of happy clients and that, in a strange way, turns the tables. You see, once I have done business with someone, once I have done ‘a good job’, I trust them to return to me. I trust that they shall, at some point in the future ask me to help again.

Thankfully, most do.

Now that may, at this point, sound like standard business practice. But what makes all this stand-out for me is, that most of what I do is with people who are, in the physical world, (the Meat-Space), strangers.

I may belong to the same social media ‘groups’ as they. I may have ‘messaged’ or emailed them many times, over many months or even years. I may know (vaguely) what they look like, at least in the best photograph they have, even if it was taken twenty-years ago!

BUT…I have never met them, never heard their voice naturally, or felt their flesh, smelt their scent, seen how they walk, talk and laugh, not in the real world. Yet some I consider to be friends, not the i-space, ethereal electronic type of friend, but Friend with a capitol ‘F’.

And I trust them.

As, (hopefully!), they do me.

Please, do not deceive yourself by thinking that I am a product of this technological age. I am not.

I am far older than that. But I accept it, even somewhat embrace it; although with a certain amount of mistrust and caution as to its future influence and where it may eventually lead us.

But a little vigilance is no bad thing.

So, here I am, connected tentively to un-met people around the globe, via fiber-optics and satellites, yet conducting business on less than a physical handshake; often simply on a few keystrokes that spell out the word ‘Yes’, or even the lesser ‘OK’.

I suggest that is a form of true trust?

If it is, then in my world that is not a bad thing.

If something that can be isolating, even as divisive as the internet, can bring ‘people who have never met’ (we used to term this as ‘strangers’ when I was a child), together by the bond of trust my fear for the future of mankind is somewhat diminished.

All we need now is for those who in power to take note, for those who print ‘In God We Trust’ on our banknotes to realise that, in an ideal world those words would actually read ‘In Us We Trust’.

Just a thought that was running through my mind.

 

Please feel free to comment, like, share or ‘whatever blows your frock-up’

Paul

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Fantastic Journeys Into Fantasy

I am very happy to have Mr. Tom Fallwell, a friend and fellow ‘Awethor’ as my guest blogger today.

Tom is a fantastic writer of captivating and enchanting fantasy fiction, including his latest book ‘Where Shadows Fall’

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There are many genres for stories. Whether they are told in books, in novels, in games, or some other format. There are just as many fans with the same variety of tastes that clamor for them. I have a great passion for reading and watching movies both, and I read and watch many different genres, but there is one that I find the most enjoyable, Fantasy. So what is it about this particular genre that grabs me? What makes it my favorite? There are many reasons, but if I had to describe why in one word, it would be “limitless”.

I don’t read to escape real life. In fact, I like my life, so I have no desire to escape it. I read for one reason, entertainment. The same reason I watch a movie or a television show. I am simply desiring some moments of entertainment. With a movie, it’s over in a couple of hours, but with a good novel, I can spend days, weeks maybe, reading, and that’s even better. So, my sole reason is for entertainment, and the more entertaining, the better.

Fantasy, as a genre, provides me with a vast universe of entertainment. I can go anywhere, be anyone, do anything. There are no limits in fantasy. No hard cut rules that must be followed. Fantasy can take you into the past, to the present, and even into the future. It can happen right here in our own world, or it can take you to a whole new world beyond imagination. Any possible race can be portrayed in fantasy, any possible creature, any possible setting.

I think, more than anything else, it is this limitless macrocosm of possibilities that make fantasy my genre of choice. I had one reader of my first novel, Dragon Rising, once tell me that my characters having quivers was incorrect, that they did not use quivers in medieval times. I thought, “What medieval times? This is another world, not ours. Of course they can have quivers”. Fantasy is not bound by such rules, at least not in my mind.

It is the unbound possibilities that draws me to fantasy. Sure, you can do the same with other genres, like science-fiction, but with those other genres, you have to make a plausible explanation about why or how. With fantasy, you can just say it is, because it is. Readers may have different views, like the one who thought I should not use quivers, but there are just as many readers that will not even think of such a limitation. So fantasy gives me a sense of freedom in writing that I don’t find in other genres.

Limitless boundaries to a limitless imagination. That is what fantasy is to me. Are you a fantasy fan? Why do you like fantasy? Feel free to tell me, or ask questions about my books. Stop by my website and use the Contact Form to get in touch. I would love to hear what you think. Happy reading!

Tom Fallwell

 

Visit me at my website or on Facebook.

http://tomfallwell.com

http://facebook.com/TomFallwellAuthor

Books by Tom Fallwell

Dragon Rising: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RGZU56Q  

A Whisper In The Shadows: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VYL2426

Where Shadows Fall: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VYL2426

 

HOW TO “WRITER”

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Originally posted on http://coolerbs.com/  (Now updated & re-posted here!)

 JANUARY 17, 2015

 

For everyone who wants to be a writer, I present the honest answers to all of your questions:

What are writers?

People who write words, preferably ones that chain together to mean something.

Can I become a writer?

Yes.

Who can be a writer?

Anyone.

Is (blank) a writer?

Does that person write words? If so, then yes.

How do I become a writer? 

Write.

What do writers do?

Write.

How do I become a professional writer?

Write for free until someone offers to pay you for it. Then, write for them.

Does writing take practice?

Yes. Everything takes practice.

Do writers make a lot of money?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… not usually.

Will I become a professional writer?

Statistically? Probably not.

Do I need to write every day?

You don’t need to, but I recommend it.

Do writers need to read books?

Yes, constantly. How do you think we manage to get all of those words into our heads?

What is the worst thing you can do as a writer?

Mass murder.

Can I make a living as a writer?

That really depends on what type of writing you want to do. Fiction writing is really risky and hard. You could crash and burn at any moment, and that’s assuming you manage to get off the ground at all. Ghostwriting or technical writing, on the other hand, is fairly consistent work, and pays decent. Editing, which is sort of like writing in its own way, also pays well. Writing for a website is actually feasible, but the website has to be really successful. It’s entirely possible, but it’s an upward battle.

Will writers exist in one hundred years?

I hope so.

Why are writers important?

Because, without us, all you would have to read are the labels on food packages.

Why do writers not like people?

We like people! We just don’t like being around people.

Does writing give you a God Complex?

Yes.

Why are writers crazy/depressed/weird?

Couple of reasons:

  • We’re isolated all the time, partially by choice.
  • We create and kill fictional people.
  • A combination of crippling self-doubt and an over-inflated ego.
  • We’re constantly told we’re supposed to be crazy.
  • We’re in our heads all the time, and sometimes we forget to come out.
  • We have to wait for things to happen without any guarantees.
  • We have to survive on the money we make writing.
  • Critics.

Why are writers alcoholics/drug-users?

That’s a stereotype.

How do I write a book?

In no particular order:

  • Write thousands of words.
  • Rewrite thousands of words.
  • Overcome writers block.
  • Create a plot.
  • Create characters.
  • Create conflict.
  • Cry a little.
  • Fight carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Learn about yourself.
  • Learn about what it means to be human.
  • Cry heavily.
  • Spend years on it.
  • Spend more years on it.
  • Procrastinate
  • Write an ending.
  • Rewrite nearly everything.
  • Have a party
  • Finish the book.

What is the best genre to write?

If you’re going by sales, then probably Erotica or Young Adult Dystopian Fiction.

Can I write about Werewolves/Vampires?

Yes, but I won’t like you very much.

What should I write about?

Really? You’re asking me? If you don’t already have hundreds of ideas, then I think you are in the wrong line of work my friend.

What is a “Muse”?

A little voice in our heads that tell us what to write about.

What is “Writer’s Block”?

When your “Muse” stops talking to you.

How do I know when I’m done writing a book?

When it’s the exact story you want to tell, and has absolutely no grammar errors, spelling errors, font issues, size issues, formatting mistakes, or plot holes.

Self-Publishing or Traditional?

Both are fine. Choose what you think will work better.

Do I need to get my book professionally edited?

Yes.

Do I need to get it professionally illustrated?

Yes.

Do I need to get my cover professionally made?

Yes.

What’s a first draft?

The first version of a book, before you go back in and tear the whole thing apart, fixing errors as you go.

How many drafts are there of a book?

As many as needed, sometimes more than 10.

Will my first book get published?

Unlikely. Sorry.

Am I going to become famous when I publish my first book?

No.

How do celebrities write books?

They don’t. Usually a ghostwriter does it for them.

How does James Patterson and Stephen King write so many books?

They write all day. Every day. Till their fingers bleed, heal, and then bleed again.

What is NANOWRIMO?

A contest where you have a month to write the first draft of a book.

What is a manuscript?

According to Google:  “A manuscript is any document written by hand, or manually typewritten, as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some automated way.”

Why does no one like my writing?

I’m sure someone likes your writing.

Am I a good writer?

Possibly.

Am I a great writer?

If you think you’re a great writer, then you’re probably not. The greats are hyper-critical of themselves.

What are the downsides of being a writer?

  • Eye strain.
  • Loneliness.
  • Hand cramps.
  • Back cramps.
  • Self-doubt.
  • Awkward at parties.
  • Madness.

What are the upsides of being a writer?

The things you create are immortal.

How hard do writers work?

Harder then you could possibly imagine.

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Rambling from a Writers Mind now gives you the best Amazon deals around.

Check it out 

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Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who do not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to alight.

In the waiting room a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

That is how I remember railway stations. Or at least that is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not old enough to have had such an experience. I was not born into that era. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend the truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as the rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say that these were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of traveling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with those few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world that will captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know that is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’ when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream. Most places were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many have not said goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is a fact that stations are a place we all hold dear, because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within that simple wistful yearning for a time and place that we have never been.

Thank you for reading this rambling. I hope that these few randomly scribbled words have given you food for thought, stimulated your muse or even simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.

 


To read more of my work please feel free to visit A Little more Fiction http://wp.me/5od8T

or Further Ramblings http://wp.me/5njAU

If you enjoy a great book why not check out Sneak Peek where you can browse and read excerpts from a plethora of books from fantastic authors  http://wp.me/5sgTb

Meet my Best Friends (& Share them too)!

I Love WordPress

NOTE: Before I start this post……I have now been ‘Rambling’ for over two years; but it is only for the last four months have I been doing so here on WordPress.

I wish I had originally started this Blog on WordPress because since moving from my previous platform(s) I have had far more interactions, of higher quality than ever before. So before I start todays ‘Rambling’ I would like to thank you all, especially those of you who now follow these random scribblings of mine.

THANK YOU.


Now too my Rambling of the day!

I know that the majority who read ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ are indeed writers and it is with that in mind I try, in my haphazard way, to offer advice and share knowledge about all facets of a writer’s life, from the more technical stuff to empathetic ‘hugs’ during those long lonely hours when nothing written seems to work!

One subject I have not broached so far is that of a writers own library. I do not mean the reading material we have for our own pastime, but that which we turn to for help and aid during the long toil of writing a book, or a poem, or an article….or even (possibly) a Blog such as this.

I have, over the years, amassed a huge array of various reference and resource works which sit heavily on and bow the shelves of my bookcases.

Even though we have ease of access to the infinitude of the interwebs content and can collate and bookmark pages, sites and various content to our hearts desire, it is not always so practical to move away from our works and scuttle back and forth electronically.

At best this method causes interruption to the creative flow, at worst it is a distraction where one can easily click, just for a moment, a quick glance, at our email or network sites……then three hours later we wonder why we have achieved so little progress!

This is where a book, those pale pages which one has to turn manually become so much more than just good friends, they become our tutors, our mentors, our coachesA, they allow us to find the information we seek while keeping us focused on the task in hand.

Often, while writing I have three, four, seven, even ten various books open on my desk. Each one a weighty and mighty tome of facts and particulars, essential specifics and verifications which I can access at a glance without dismissing the words I am working on, the complex wordsmithing I am hammering out on the furnace of imagination.

You may ask, what are these bound pages of mystical knowledge I keep about me?

Then I shall reveal their names, some you may already be acquainted with, others may yet be strangers, but all are, to me good friends.


These are some you may have, or at least you may have one of their cousins……

The Oxford English Dictionary.oed

The Chambers Dictionary.

Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.


These friends may not be quite so familiar, but are worth knowing…………6

Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, by Walter W. Skeat.

Dictionary of Difficult Words, by Robert H. Hill.

Dictionary of Word Origins, by John Ayto.


You should, in my humble opinion make friends with the following……download (3)

Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman.

Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King.


These folk may be a little unusual, but are worth inviting into your home…..download (2)

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

The Ultimate Loo Book, Mitchell Symons.

Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story, by Michael Rosen.


Lastly these should be among your very best friends………

download (2)

How to Write a Damn Good Novel: (A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling), by James N. Frey.

Plot & Structure: (Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish), by James Scott Bell.


Clearly these are just a few of those books which line my office walls like paladins. I think you can find copies on Amazon, or indeed go and browse your local bookstore where you may find a lonely discarded volume in need of a good home!

I hope this post has been enjoyable to read as well as helpful. Please follow my blog if you are not already doing so, as I have many more ideas and thoughts I would like to share with you.

Thank you for reading, Paul.

 

Why would you even bother reading a book?

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    Believe it or not this was said to me today in a general conversation. Needless to say that the person who spoke these particular words did not know I was an author; I did not enlighten them either!

    However, for my part these simple few words started a chain of thought that, as the day progressed, continued to reoccur in various forms. This post is the result of some of the fleeting impressions these musings have left me.

    By the way I am solely writing with regards to reading fictional books, as this was the original topic of discussion this morning.

    For those techno-loving geeky types, I am not separating e-books from their paper counterparts as they were not distinguished as separate entities during the debate.

So on with the post…….Firstly, why read a book when we are surrounded by a plethora of various media platforms, allowing access to just about every form of entertainment available by a simple click of a mouse, a push of a button, or a touch of a screen?

My answer to this is that all forms of moving picture media leaves very little exercise for the mind.

Once again I will say ALL forms, whether it is a chick-flick or shoot-um-up film, a drama, play, soap opera, or another genre.

Each and every one spoon feeds the viewer the information required and therefore leaves very little, if anything for the imagination to create.

However involved the viewer may become in the plot of the programme he or she is watching, their mind is purely focused on the screen, watching antics and listening to the words of the actors alone.

Do not get me wrong, I enjoy a good film as much as the next man; I love watching plays and intriguing dramas, and yet no matter how well directed, produced, or acted they may be, such simply cannot begin to compete with a well written book.

What is so special about reading is that it can do something that no other form of entertainment can possibly achieve.fit-girl-working-out-fgp9n

A book can give your mind a ruddy good workout, a neuron enhancing, cognitive improving gym session like no other.

Allow me to explain……When you watch something on a screen you are seeing a story through the eyes of the director, via a screen writers interpretation of a story that has most probably been adapted from another medium, possibly that well written book I mentioned a short while ago.

Therefore what you are seeing is actually a director’s vision, of a third of fourth hand edited version of an original work. Doesn’t seem so good now does it?

Another downside to watching a screenplay is when one of the characters, (which will be the actors portrayal of the watered down interpretation of the directors version of that original piece of work), walks across the car park and drives away in a dark shiny car, you will see exactly from which direction the actor enters the car park, see how the parking lot is lit, know what model car he climbs into, and just how fast he drives away.

That is okay, but it is hardly fascinating, is it?

However, within those magic pages of a book all that action is yours, and yours alone. No one else will ever see the same man walk through the same car park and slide behind the wheel of that car. Only you know how the parking lot smells, which lights were dim and flickering. Only you can sense the suppleness of the leather seats and watch through the windshield as he drives, tyres squealing, up the ramp and out into the….daylight / darkness of a rainy night?

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Now you are beginning to see why I love reading.

Everything conjured up by the words on the page are designed to stimulate your mind, not only by guiding you through the storyline, the plot, sub-plots and twists to bring you to a conclusion, but to excite every cerebral nerve in your mind to create entire worlds where you can escape to for hours on end.

It is your personal world, an exclusive world, where every drop of rain, each blade of grass, the people who inhabit it, the scents, the very texture of material are all yours, and yours alone. A semi-mystical fantasy world where love, hate, lust, passion, jealousy and forgiveness can be experienced without fear.

There is no other form of entertainment that can even come anywhere close to that which can be delivered by a good book.

As I have said above, I love reading, I enjoy the escapism it provides. Which is also why I enjoy writing; when I write I hope to give my readers the same experience, the same satisfaction that I get when I’m deeply lost, in my own netherworld, following the storyline of a Novel.

Even if you do not read one of my books, please buy one, even two of somebody else’s and start reading straight away. I know you will enjoy.

Thanks for reading this!

Paul.

Amassing the Arsenal.

Skull-on-Fire-Best-Music-HD-Wallpaper

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Once again I have been motivated to write by something I heard on the radio, a passing comment made during a documentary about playing bass guitar.

While on the surface one might ask what has a guitar, or playing music, got to do with writing fiction, or writing anything for that matter?

I agree that it is a valid question, because when you play music you usually play in front of an audience. You may practice alone, or with a small group of musicians, but when it comes to getting your art ‘out there’ you seek an audience. It is a public performance.

Whereas, for us writers, we have a rather insular art form in comparison. We write alone, proofread alone, edit and re-write alone. Sometimes we may ask someone to read our work, to give feedback or to help proof it. But generally writing is a reclusive business. When our work is complete, and published, it is read by one person at a time.

Well, that is generally the case. The author may give sample readings, a few paragraphs, chapters, or a selected portion of their latest novel during a promotional tour, or at a book signing. Reading or writing clubs may share a session, as may students, to analyse and critique your work. But these are rare examples. It is not customary for authors to perform on stage, reading aloud to an audience.

So where, and how, I hear you ask, do I associate the comments in that radio broadcast about playing bass guitar to writing.

It is quite simple. The remarks were about perfecting ones art. The presenter spoke of how nice it is, and I quote, ‘To hear someone who knows what they are doing, doing the thing they do so well’. The presenter then said that when a musician ‘let’s rip in a one mad burst, it is a magnificent thing to behold’.

I shall not argue or decry those observations because I wholeheartedly agree. When a well-practised artist performs to the height of their ability it is a truly wonderful thing indeed.

But it is getting to that peek, reaching the level of talent and knowing when to use it to perform. That is the key to becoming excellent in your chosen field.

Before we can even consider getting up onto that stage, and baring our artistic soul to the world at large, we must have ascertained the required skills and built up the confidence to stand there and strut our stuff without the slightest doubt, without the possibility of making total fools out of ourselves.

To reach that objective we must practice, and all practice is, is building up your creative arsenal, amassing the skills and techniques that will make you a creative force to be reckoned with.

If you are new, or relatively new, to the world of writing and publishing it is wise to remember that it is a very lonely and frustrating world at times, at most times.

If you are planning or writing a novel, you are biting off a huge chunk of optimistic expectation, and while I do not want you to stop, or for my words to put you off writing, I do ask you this. Have you built up your arsenal of skills and talent to the level which you feel confident of standing before a crowd reading your work out aloud? Could you perform your work to an audience?

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I have been writing for some time, and I am working on another novel. Yet at this moment I do not have enough of it written to the standard that I would feel comfortable reading it out aloud, reading it to a critical group of spectators.

So, I carry on writing other works at the same time. I write poetry because that hones ones skills at manipulating words to create imagery.

I write Flash Fiction, I find it focuses the mind to explanation with the fewest words possible, challenges me to build quick twists and plots into a short paragraph or two.

I write Short Stories, sometimes these are expanded versions of my Flash Fictions or taken from the inspiration of a poem, either mine or someone else’s.

I also write Articles and Essays, which I suppose this ‘Rambling’ is. They also present their own ordeals and criteria. So everything and anything I write is practice. I am still amassing my techniques. I am continually building my own arsenal of experience and skill.

Watch out, because one day I shall unleash it all in that mad burst of artistic showmanship. But not just yet, because the whole point of a skill is knowing when to use it and when not to.

I am not yet quite ready to get up on that stage………. not quite, yet!

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Thank you for reading this Rambling.

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Have you read any of my short stories? You can find them at  

Subject Matter

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I have written, in the past, about things that have inspired me as a writer, places, artworks, the weather, and many experiences, both good and bad.

Often ones inspiration comes from a collective of various and seemingly unconnected sources, which the writer mixes and melds into a single work.

Frequently the ingredients of this creativeness have fermented in the mind of the writer over assorted periods of time, before gelling into any particular form.

Yet inspiration alone is not the key to creating a good specimen of work, or even a mediocre scribbling.

We all collect ideas, notions and have basic concepts. We all hold beliefs and opinions which lend themselves to our own mind-set regarding personal viewpoints, even philosophies.

All and any combination of these can form outlines or sketches for future efforts, they can be the précises and plans for the next chapter, a new novel, or a poetic masterpiece.

They can, but are often not!

I hear that writers get something called ‘block’. I have never understood this term, except as a feeble excuse to dillydally.

To write one must write.

That is sit and jot down any and every word that comes to mind, string your thoughts out onto paper. It is totally irrelevant if there is anything remotely cohesive or comprehensible as a result. The fact is that you are writing and by doing so you will inevitably start to create something tangible.

In all probability it will need to be re-worked, re-written and edited. But then what efforts do not?

Now, disregarding the incohesive jottings from a stagnant mind, what of your subject? What, you ponder, shall you write about today?

This should not be that difficult really, you already have a wealth of ideas, many rough outlines and frameworks to choose from, and yet nothing feels acceptable to you at this moment. You could do as I advised above and just scrawl, but you have sat down today with intent and purpose so you are, come what may, going to write something worthwhile, Aren’t you?

Taking the above on-board, it is clear that inspiration from whatever foundation, may not be enough on its own to germinate that much needed seed of for selecting a subject to write about, because your inspirational suggestive is not necessarily that of any particular matter, it could be used within the text, as a plot, or a description of a place.

So even with all those wonderful conceptions and tasty ideas floating on the bouillabaisse of your creative mind, not one single word will you write until you have a topic to adhere to.

I shall let you into a little secret of mine, a way that on a daily basis I collect a whole host of subjects to write about.

  I read and I listen.

I read the papers, not the daily comic style rags, but the more serious broadsheets. I read about business and stock markets, science and medicine. I am not reading these just for the reports, I am looking for the human factors involved.

The same is with the radio, I listen to the interviews and the plays, the documentary productions, literary and theatre reviews. Once again it is the social and personal aspects that I seek for subject matter in my own writings.

Allow me to give a couple of examples by way of explanation.

A few days ago while driving home I tuned into a programme that was delving into the issue of female autism. This report was enlightening enough regarding the subject itself, and was full of stimulating information which I could, and still can, use in the future.

However, one particular statement touched me to such a degree that I knew I had found a wonderful gem which I shall use in the near future.

One of the experts told of an interview with a young sufferer who, upon being diagnosed, said with much relief. ‘It felt as if I had a black spot inside of me. I thought it would never go away’.

That one simple sentence was, for me, like finding a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow. Those of you who are artistically minded will for certain understand the enormity of such a stimulus.

Another example, which I have already taken advantage of by writing a poem I called ‘My heart’, and posted on the 26th of June 2014, was during a play where one of the lines was about skeletons ‘kissing with their skulls’. I wrote the poem shortly after arriving home that evening.

(I have included that poem at the end of this post, as I am sure you would have some problem scouring the net for a single piece of poetry posted on a social network several months ago. You see how good I am to you)!

These are one way I find my subject matter for the day, or project, or book. It is also why my posts are quite wide and varied, and often seem to be associated or themed for a period of time.

Once I have decided on my subject, I then draw on my inspiration and experiences to create a unique, personal and original piece of work, which I hope that you will enjoy reading.

I also hope that my writings, my blog’s, the flash fiction, poetry, (and very soon), my new novel, does and will continue to connect with your own inner person, much in the way I was touched by the stimulus that enabled me to create my work in the first instance.

Here is that poem I promised you earlier.

skeleton-sex-energy-transfer

My Heart

My heart is a grave for lovers

Where skeletons embrace ever crumbling lust,

And skulls kiss in breathless anguish.

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Scarlet blood long soaked into the ashes,

Forgotten passions abandon, the cast off flesh,

Sensuous agonies of the soul

Haunt faded moments embezzled by time.

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Rise up from the earth,

Stand upon your tombstone,

Seek your absent self, your withered spirit

Wandering aimlessly in immortal eternity.

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But look not within my heart,

For it is but a grave for lovers.

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This poem and many others can be found in my book ‘Shadows of Emotion

SHADOWS of EMOTION is available for Kindle / eBook or as a Paperback

  1. UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-Emotion-collection-deep-poetry/dp/1500510319 

USA.  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=shadows+of+emotion 

OR simply paste this  ISBN-13: 978-1500510312 into your searchbar

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Once again I thank you for reading this Rambling, Bless you, Paul.