Don’t break the bank to enjoy poetry…

If you haven’t already nabbed my first poetry collection Accidental Emeralds, it’s 99p on special offer for a few days, before going up to £1.99 for another few, then back to the original (and very reasonable) price of £2.90.

I’m removing all my books now from the Select programme, which means they’ll not be available to borrow through Kindle Unlimited, and I won’t be able to do these convenient Countdown sales. I’d thought long and hard about this; the incentives to have books in the Select programme have become scanty. I get less and less for borrows, and it seems there are risks (long story) to having books there. So I decided that those that were in, are coming out, so I unticked the auto renew box.  I wasn’t earning any more from having them in, and peace of mind is more important than pennies anyway. I’d also noticed a pattern of rankings changing when people borrowed a book, but then they’d either not read the book at all or the pages weren’t coming up as read. So I don’t think I am losing anything.

Incidentally, if you have read any of my books, liked them but haven’t reviewed, I’d be deeply grateful for new reviews. It seems that regular reviews are what keeps a book moving; above a certain number and the legend is that you get more promotion from the ‘Zon. Fairies is close to the 50 review threshold (46 as I write) and that’s one of the mythical, mystical numbers of the legend. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s worth considering. Accidental Emeralds has three really sterling reviews and more would be very cheering if nothing else.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Emeralds-Longing-Vivienne-Tuffnell/dp/1500242187?ie=UTF8&qid=1468660246&ref_=la_B00766135C_1_8&s=books&sr=1-8 

Review of KINDLE Ebook Square Peg by Vivienne Tuffnell

Delighted by this superb review of Square Peg, so I couldn’t resist reblogging it.

Brainfluff

I had downloaded Square Peg a while ago onto my Kindle, but suddenly turned to it as an antidote to the rather grim apocalyptic near-future NetGalley arc I’d just endured. I was so very glad I did…

“She’d seen faces like that before, but on the television, in films and in the history books. The faces of fanatics, cold and blind to all reason staring back at her.”

squarepegChloe is a square peg in an increasingly uncomfortable round hole. Brought up by her wildly unconventional grandmother, she’s a true free spirit and has never learned to pull her punches. She’s just married trainee Church of England clergyman Clifford, and is living at the theological college and trying to figure out what’s going on around her. She’s had very little connection with formal religion, and has a talent for stepping on all sorts of emotional land-mines with the wives of the…

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A Warm Welcome to Vivienne Tuffnell

Guesting today!

Claire Stibbe, Author

Viv as pirate (2)I am excited to welcome Vivienne Tuffnell who is here to talk about a  scene from The Bet, a book of ‘family secrets and wounded souls’ – as quoted by a five star Amazon reviewer.

Vivienne says…

My Twitter bio said writer, poet, explorer and mystic and that probably says it all quite neatly. I’ve written stories my whole life, even before I could actually read. My father mistakenly allowed me to use his typewriter from an early age and I was hooked. I’m not sure the typewriter survived very long having me bash out strings of letters in the belief that what I had in my head would magically transform into words others can read. I’ve got better at that. I write novels, short stories and poetry, and I also blog at https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com

It’s very difficult to pinpoint favourite scenes but having narrowed it down, this scene from The Bet stands…

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“Look, look up at the stars!”

Look, look up at the stars!”

Every night, we have a routine at bedtime. Cats are fed, litter changed, one cat gets medication. The guinea pigs are all given a cuddle and a brief inspection to make sure they are in perfect fettle, then they’re given their supper. We usually stand and watch them hurtling round, pop-corning with the excitement of fresh hay and cucumber, before they settle in and get busy eating. Then I go out into the garden to put out food for any errant hedgehogs. This winter has been so mild I suspect some haven’t hibernated much. Most nights, the two bowls (one of meal-worms and the other of cat biscuits) has been emptied, though I cannot say by whom precisely as during the day I do see blackbirds going into the shelter to feed on whatever is there.

Some nights I am already in pyjamas and dressing gown and I’m deeply grateful that our garden is both private and sheltered, because despite the fences and hedges, sometimes the wind catches me and makes me gasp with its face-slapping chill. But I almost always take a moment to look up at the sky.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I read science fiction, mostly totally unsuited to my age at the time because the niche YOUNG ADULT didn’t really exist when I could be considered its target demographic. Those who grew up in the sixties and seventies and liked science fiction might also have encountered British author Hugh Walters, and his series of science fiction novels about a group of astronauts. The series was written primarily for children, though looking back he was probably one of the first authors to target older kids and what are now considered young adults. Back in the day before the internet, I’m afraid I took as fact a lot of what turned out to be complete fiction. My country didn’t have a space programme and by the time I got to secondary school I realised that never in my lifetime would it have a proper programme of manned space flights. A dream died, a dream that probably had its roots in my father getting us up at silly o’clock to watch on television the moon landing in 1969. I will never be an astronaut.

But I am an explorer nonetheless. Though I will never set foot on another planet, I do explore other worlds. I do this through words, through inner vision and through the understanding, sometimes dimmed by time and pain and doubt, that this existence with its matter and its heavy gravity, is not the only one. Looking up at the stars last thing each night reminds me of this, for the stars are vast distances away and may not be reached in a human lifetime, though as a species we may reach them yet. A dream died, a dream that was something born of a child’s wonder at the vastness of the universe and at our first faltering steps to explore it. A new dream slowly unfolded over the restless lifetime that followed, one that has urged me to explore not outer space, but the inner worlds of the unseen, often unheeded and reviled as navel-gazing and self-indulgence. I believe that these worlds may truly exist, but not in a physical way we can comprehend or bring back moon rocks from.

So when I gaze up at the night sky, intoning the constellations and greeting (when the night is clear enough) both Venus and the moon in whatever phase she has reached, I am touching base with an old dream that holds hands with the new one.

http://www.bartleby.com/122/8.html

Depression: Tightrope walking with a friend

A very welcome review and shout out for the latest book.

Head Above Water

January: Bleurgh, endless white skies and here, rain, news, it appears, of death upon death, for those suffering from SAD or other depressive tendencies in the Northern Hemisphere, January is perhaps the last slog on a upward climb that hopefully will open up to a plateau of hope when Spring begins. But depression is not weather dependent, it can hit at any time, come from trauma or trial or seemingly from nowhere at all. It may be chemically based, genetically predisposed. It is a combination of temperament and circumstance and how society is set up. There seems to be, at this current time of technological change, dissipating boundaries, an individualistic culture, separation from nature, social media and always on personas, ways in which the vulnerable can be knocked into self-doubt, anxiety, paralysis. There appears to be a surge in the number of young people experiencing mental health difficulties and there…

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The blind dancer is broken

The blind dancer is broken

The blind dancer is broken ~ a dream

Sometimes dreams give us clues about our inner world in ways that are both revealing and concealing. The last week or two I have been finding it very difficult to navigate my way through the world, and feel I have lost connection with things that have been important to me and my life force feels depleted and I feel direction-less. I’m working my way through a book on Jungian dream interpretation and after I started reading it, for the first time in a while a dream occurred that feels significant in understanding what is going on. I’m going to share it here; if you have any insights on this they would be welcome as I am hoping to clarify my own thoughts and often my friends here have been excellent at doing just that.

The first part of the dream is confused. I am trying to find my way through a city that feels hostile, as if either a riot has been happening or is close to happening, or one that has been at war. The streets are narrow and steep but more or less deserted. It’s dark, night time and a few places have lights on. I go into one place, on the side of a square, from which a narrow lane goes down steeply enough to need steps. It feels a little like the Mont Martre area of Paris. The place is a restaurant, but looks wrecked and no one is eating there. A waiter comes over, but he doesn’t want to take an order. He’s trying to find his daughter, to connect to her on Facebook but though I try to explain to him how to find her, my communications don’t seem to work. I give up trying to explain as we seem to have not so much a problem of language but of intelligence.

The dream shifts and I am in my study. I have walked in to see that the smaller of my two desks, the one used solely for writing by hand and for drawing has been messed up. Items are scattered over it and I notice that the statue I treasure has been knocked over; the head seems to be missing, there’s water close to it as if spilled, and there is a flex like that of a lamp attached to it (the real statue is one I bought in 2003, shortly after moving to the Midlands but before I began writing again. It’s an interpretation of the Oracle at Delphi, about 18 inches or so high, of fired clay, glazed in several colours and textures, and shows a seated, veiled woman, eyes downcast looking into a bowl she is holding on her lap. The bowl can hold a candle. I bought the statue as a symbol of listening to my inner consciousness and trying to heed what might come from dreams and visions. It’s never been a public ornament downstairs and has always been either in my study or my bedroom. It was quite expensive (for me) and is one of a kind as though the range is still on sale, each item was unique and this one is no longer made) I am crestfallen and upset that this precious thing might be broken or damaged, and rush forward to look more closely. As I get closer I see that this is a different statue entirely. It depicts a dancer, in a pose, one arm outstretched, standing on one leg (this probably has a term but I don’t know it). The statue is in the same coloured glazes and washes as mine (dark green, light green, yellow, and pure gold) but it’s very different and not one that in real life would ever appeal to me at all as it has a fragile appearance and depicts a style of feminine grace I’ve never aspired to or valued). I look closer for damage and see that there is a chip off the chin; there are fragments of porcelain around and I wonder if it can be fixed back. Then I see that a whole strip of glaze has been knocked from the face, right across the eyes so that the dancer is now blind. I am searching for the broken fragments to mend the statue when I wake.

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Things of Winter Beauty and Wonder: Advent Day Twenty One

Day Twenty One

Winter Solstice

The winter solstice this year falls tomorrow (22nd of December), and is the shortest day of the year. The date on which the Solstice falls is slightly variable, from the 20th to the 23rd though it is rare for it to fall on the 20th or the 23rd (there’s complicated reasons why it varies and I’m scared of getting the explanation wrong and looking stupid, so do look it up). The word solstice comes from Latin, meaning the sun stands still, and that is what happens. For a few days, everything is held in this strange holding pattern before the days begin lengthening again. For me, there is a huge relief in this.

Sunrise on the winter solstice is a powerfully moving moment; the reality of watching it can be cold, wet and somewhat of a damp squib if you expect magical rays and invisible choirs.

I wrote the following poem last year and it sums up the feeling of expectancy and emptiness that I experience at this time of year:

Hallowed hollow

I will hold a space

A dark space

An empty place

A hallowed hollow,

Cupped between hands

Hidden between breaths

Lost between heartbeats

Harrowed from soul-falls.

I will hold a space

Without prayer

Without hope

Without desire.