Archive for the ‘Guest Blogs’ Category

I’m guest blogging today regarding my new novel I Am Just Going Outside and May Be Some Time on the Leeds Big Bookend blog.

You can read it here. And you can buy the book here.

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NHS D Blog

You probably know, but it’s the big seven-oh for the NHS today. I wrote a blog, which has been published to the NHS Digital website. Please see below for full content:

“My parents were up to stay last night to babysit for the kids while my partner and I went out for a meal and to the cinema. We watched Jurassic World. It was pretty silly, and to be honest I spent most of the time thinking that I’d rather be sitting in our back garden, enjoying the warm evening with a glass of wine. As soon as the film finished, we drive home, threw open the patio doors, and did exactly that. The four of us from two generations (the third generation were – Glory be! – in bed, or so we thought) sat out as the sun went down, and eventually conversation turned to the NHS. Last night was the eve of the NHS’s 70th birthday, after all.

My Dad’s a Baby-Boomer, retired now, and living the good life. Though my Dad and I are close – bonded by our love of the same football team – and at times it seems as though we aren’t a generation apart (usually when we share the same view of the manager; of what our best player needs to do so he can turn it on in very game not just when he has a new haircut and wants the cameras to get a good look at it) there are times when the years between us are more obvious. And I’m not just talking about technology, and Dad’s luddite tendencies here.

Dad was born not long after the end of the Second World War, in 1947, to parents Doris and George. George was a builder. Doris worked in a soap factory. George had to lay a lot of bricks and Doris had to make a lot of soap in the wake of the arrival of their bouncing baby boy. Indeed, they were still paying for that baby five years later: a special payment plan had been set up by the hospital to cover the fees. George, who was a Yorkshireman and fiercely stereotypical in his tight-fistedness, was probably kicking himself until the day he eventually died on account of the fact that if they’d only waited another year, they could have had little Raymond George for free, on the new National Health Service.

On Christmas Day 2013, my girlfriend Heidi gave birth to our own son, Jesus… No, I’m kidding, Leon George. He was named, in part, for the grandfather he never met (and also for a crossword clue – Leon is Noel backwards). The birth was very traumatic. There were a lot of complications. At one point there were no fewer than 15 health professionals in the room with us. Back in the day, grandfather George might have been totting up exactly how much all that knowledge, all that expertise, was going to cost him. But Heidi and I didn’t have to worry. Because of the NHS.

As the sun finally sneaked over the horizon like a kid told for the very last time it was bedtime, we shared many more stories of how the National Health Service had helped us all, every generation, and the extended family too. I’m sure many similar conversations will have been heard across the country, and will be heard today, too.

That’s why I’m supporting and promoting the anniversary by engaging with the following activities, and I’d like to encourage you to do so too:

  • Frames and twibbon – we have launched two Facebook frames and a Twitter twibbon for staff, patients and the wider public to show their support for the birthday. Come on, do it, even if you hate the word twibbon as much as I do!
  • NHS Voices – with the support of celebrities, the NHS Choir will be trying to get to number one for the birthday. Please support the NHS Voices campaign via social media.

And from twibbon to dinosaurs… The ridiculous to the sublime…

In Jurassic World one of the characters gave a speech (pretty much the only dialogue in the whole film, it seemed; the rest was all-action, all dinos snacking on folk) about how sad it would be that the de-extinct were about to become extinct again. In the world of the film, dinosaurs were not simply majestic, mythical creatures from books to children around the world, but, thanks to Jurassic Park/ World, they’d been made visceral. Real. To then have the dinosaurs die out again would be a heartbreaker for kids who’d lived with the sublime and had almost – but not quite – come to take them for granted.

The NHS is venerable – yes – and creaky in some parts. To hear some describe it, you’d think it was something mythical. Something from a film, or an ancient legend – perhaps something Arthurian. There’s something very round and tably about it in the national narrative. Some might describe the NHS as a dinosaur. But it ain’t. The NHS may have more varieties than Heinz but it is very real. And we cannot take it for granted. We must care for it, we must curate it, we must continue to help it to innovate, and we must continue to tell its story.

So raise a cuppa, or a glass of wine after five, to this sublime, multi-faceted collection of organisations, services, and most of all people. And be proud. And remember to share your stories on Yammer.

A quick epilogue. We talked into the night, into the birthday itself, before finally going to bed. On our way up to bed, we checked in on Leon, and on his sister, Peggy. Leon, we saw, hadn’t been as tucked-up and cosy as we’d previously thought. Perhaps our conversation outside had woken him up. Perhaps he’d been awake all the while. Either way, when we went into his room, we saw he’d laid all of his dinosaur figures out on his ‘volcano mat’, in battle formation (herbivores v carnivores).

For Leon, aged four-and-a-half dinosaurs are real. When we ask him where he would like to go on a day-trip, every time without fail his first choice is Jurassic Park. He’s young enough, idealistic enough, and un-cynical enough to still believe he walks amongst the sublime. In most respects, his parents and grandparents – us – we don’t believe in all that anymore. But we are very lucky that we can set cynicism to one side and see the embodiment of our ideals in the sublime National Health Service.

Fade out, to Jurassic Park theme…”

 

 

 

Good day and welcome to the late 2015 Home Defence update, direct to you from a satirical Paranoia and Lifestyle Webzine that’s been proudly mocking terrorists (and those who think they can end ‘terror’) since 2004. This issue features some of my new writing. Here it is: Our exclusive Investigation looks back on a year dominated by Cecil the Lion and assorted piggery and asks – what now for Walt the Dentist? You can read it here.

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And here’s what’s in store in the rest of this bumper issue:

This time our News Round Up featuring the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, an inaugural Calais Film Festival, a very Ellie Goulding Christmas and the Prime Minister’s ‘Lords Surge’.

Our favourite Guest Columnist, Bashar al-Assad, returns with his latest missive from the country on everyone’s lips (even if our correspondent is more interested in his new-found celebrity).

In Terror News, the Data Protection Bill and renewal of Trident combine to protect the UK from anyone buying nuclear submarines online.

The government’s depiction of the new Labour Leader as a terrorist sympathiser backfires wholesale in our Special Report.

Our in-house lifestyle expert and self-proclaimed Unwellness Guru covers the rise of the Wellness Blogger in Health.

And finally, in National News, the Prime Minister, ‘Diddy’ David Cameron, reassures everyone who might be concerned about this country’s drug laws.

 

 

I’m wearing my writing tutor hat today, as my piece ‘D for Dialogue’ has been published in the excellent Spry Magazine’s ABC of Fiction Writing. Here’s a letter from Spry’s editor regarding the whys and wherefores of puiblishing the ABC, here’s the full menu of articles, and here’s my piece, ‘D for Dialogue’.

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I’m taking a break from publicising the LVG book today. That’s because behind the door of today’s advent calendar is my guest blog regarding Perfect World, and there’s a competition to win a free copy of the book to boot… Follow this link to enter.

Perfect World comp

Hello all,

I’m Aine Cabaye, author of ‘MR. 0which was published earlier this year by White House Press. I happen to share this publisher with the owner of this blog, AJ Kirby (whose books with WHP you should really check out if you haven’t already: Hangingstone, and When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals). I asked Andy whether he’d mind ever so much if I guest blogged on his site, as I’m keen for my words and my writing to reach new audiences. Thankfully he agreed. So here goes.

mr-o-coverMy novelette ‘Mr. 0’ is receiving pretty good reviews at the moment, which I’m hugely grateful for. Many commentators have drawn comparisons between my story and that of Graham Greene’s ‘The Destructors’, and William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’. Which I’ll agree with to some extent because of the subject matter I cover, though certainly I’m not sure about being spoken of in the same breath as those two masters of English Literature.

My book, for those of you who haven’t read it, is a dystopian tale about the destructive power of evil. It transports Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to a modern-day estate in the north east of England. I live in Selby at the moment, and the estate I drew is something like some of the estates there. But not wholly. Anyway, what prompted me to write the story were some local media reports about an alleged child-abuser being released from prison and housed in one of those estates, and the reaction of the local community to this ‘intruder’ in their midst.

And I wanted to tell the tale from the point of view of a child. I wondered what sense a child might make of all of the commotion and chaos which was wrought about them. I wondered whether I might make my child a forgiving one. And then I thought, who am I kidding? Because I don’t know many children who are.

It’s not a happy tale, but it’s a truthful one, and it shares a similar philosophy to William Golding’s: i.e. that the natural state for human beings, once we’ve thrown off the trappings of convention and morality, is cruelty, is savagery. If we don’t feel as though we have someone looking over our shoulders, we can become monsters – just like the kids on the island in Lord of the Flies. There they are removed from society, from parental judgment and from punishment, and quickly they become savage.

I recently re-read another of Golding’s dark tales; the Booker Prize winning Rites of Passage. Like Lord of the Flies the story is set in a location at one remove from the world. Here, we encounter the passengers on a ship sailing from Britain to Australia. God’s and Britain’s laws are subsumed by ‘rules of the sea’ and the laws of the captain. And in this case, these new ‘laws’ become a license to terrorise one of the passengers (just like Piggy in Flies).

It’s an excoriating commentary on how we are. And, without meaning to depress anyone, there’s any number of news stories around at the moment which back-up Golding’s theorum regarding our essential natures.

I’m currently working on a new novel, and I was hoping to inject a little light into this one. However just when I think I’m out, the savagery pulls me back in. I’m sorry, I can only tell the truth as I see it. See this excellent article from The Guardian on the truth about evil for example, particularly the section on Hannah Arendt. “Arendt suggested that human beings commit atrocities from a kind of stupidity, falling into a condition of thoughtlessness in which they collude in practices that inflict atrocious suffering on other human beings.”

That’s what I tried to recreate in ‘Mr. 0’…

Thanks very much for listening to my musings. You can get a hold of my novelette ‘Mr. 0’ from all good bookshops.

SYNOPSIS

Vinny Markham and his gang of mates are troubled.
They have discovered their new neighbour might have a very dark past.
And they don’t know what to do about it.
But they know they should do something.

But with their only role-models the itinerant fathers they are at once ashamed and in awe of, there is something inevitable about the dark, destructive, and lawless nature of the boys’ response.

Recalling Graham Greene’s ‘The Destructors’, and William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’, Aine Cabaye’s dystopian short story about the destructive power of evil transports Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to a modern-day estate in the north east of England.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aine J. Cabaye is half-Irish, half-French, and lives halfway between Leeds and Hull, in the north east of England. She is the parent of one child, Noel, and of four books, the first two of which are to be published by White House Press.

STONES: HUMOROUS COMING-OF-MIDDLE AGE FICTION
By Marilyn Baron
Stones_w8830_750 (2)New Adult fiction seems to be all the rage these days. Well, I’m starting a trend of my own—Old Adult Fiction. Or more accurately, Coming-of-Middle-Age-Fiction. My new novel, Stones, features women of a certain age. Before being published by The Wild Rose Press, the manuscript, which finaled in the Georgia Romance Writers Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence, was called The Colonoscopy Club. So you have an idea of what age I’m talking about.
Books & Bling
If you like books and you like bling, you’ll love Stones.

Here’s the blurb:

When Julie Paver’s husband Matt moves his business to Atlanta, she is forced to leave behind her thriving jewelry boutique, Stones. The move threatens their twenty-five year marriage, because now if Matt isn’t out of town negotiating a merger, he’s spending late hours on overseas phone calls with his sexy-sounding second-in-command.

Feeling neglected and unloved, Julie seeks closure by reconnecting with her first love, Manny, when he pursues her with his Internet innuendos. Manny is unaware he is the father of Julie’s son, and Julie contemplates revealing the secret to him on the eve of their son’s wedding. But would such a walk down memory lane be worth the cost?

Julie and Manny finally meet at her oceanfront condo—in the midst of a hurricane—and elements collide to create the perfect storm in this coming-of-middle-age crisis.

Julie has issues. Even her issues have issues. And I use humor to help her cope with those issues.

1. She’s just turned 50 and she’s depressed; And her vet says her dog has also lost its purpose in life.
2. She’s convinced her husband is cheating on her.
3. She faces an empty nest.
4. Her daughter is dating a boy named Barnyard.
5. She’s planning her son’s wedding.
6. And as she says, “My ass is leaving an imprint on the sofa the size of Savannah.”

Naturally Julie is stressed out. All she’s looking for is closure and she can’t seem to find it.

In Julie’s words: “At my age, closure is an extremely important concept. Because—let’s face it—I’m running out of time here.”

In fact, in Stones, readers are introduced to the concept of closure in the very first paragraph.

“Thank God for LINT. It’s the one area in my life where I’ve been able to achieve closure. I can wash a load of towels, toss them into the dryer, fold them, and, after opening the lint filter, peel back a glorious, thick, colorful strip of lint, admire it, and throw it into the wastebasket. Then I can cross that task off my to-do list. Now, THAT is closure! And, by the way, I have a new dryer that gives really good lint.”

An Excerpt:
To go or not to go to Palm Coast is no longer the question. The question is what will I do once I get there? Will I really have the nerve to reconnect, or as my daughter Natalie likes to say, “hook up,” again with Manny Gellar? How will I feel tomorrow when I see him alone for the first time after twenty-five years? Will I finally reveal what I feel compelled—no, what
I’m busting a gut—to tell him? That he has a beautiful son, that our son Josh is getting married in just three months? I’m probably rationalizing, but I think he finally has a right to know.

If I could, I’d fix what is wrong with my marriage and put it back the way it was before, as easily as Ricardo fixed my washing machine. Before Matt yanked me out of Miami by my roots as if I were a noxious weed he was tossing out of a flower garden and carelessly transplanted us to Atlanta.

Before we moved a state away from my family and my best friend and a business I’d worked a lifetime to create. Before Matt sold his freight-expediting business to a German conglomerate for mega-millions and agreed to run the company for them from Atlanta for the next two years, barely consulting me. Before the German occupation, or rather before he became preoccupied
with his sexy-sounding German second-in-command, Gretchen. Before he stopped sleeping with me in the biblical sense. Before I turned fifty.

All I really want is closure. I’m convinced that meeting Manny Gellar again is the only way I will ever come full circle and reconnect with my life.

There’s plenty of hot romance in Stones when the novel flashes back to the main character’s college years. Scenes I never wanted my mother to read, but she read them anyway and wondered, “How do you know about all that stuff?” There are even some chapters set in London and in Florence, Italy, where I attended college for six months.
To read more about Marilyn’s books and stories, please visit her Web site at http://www.marilynbaron.com/
To get a copy of Stones, click:
Amazon.co.uk (Kindle and Print)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stones-Marilyn-Baron-ebook/dp/B00NF12CVG/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411999122&sr=1-1&keywords=stones+marilyn+baron
Amazon (Kindle and Print):
http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Marilyn-Baron-ebook/dp/B00NF12CVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411999049&sr=1-1&keywords=stones+marilyn+baron
The Wild Rose Press (Stones and other books by Marilyn Baron)
http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=244_210&products_id=5817

 

marilyn

Marilyn Baron is a public relations consultant in Atlanta, Georgia, and the author of humorous women’s fiction, historical romantic thrillers, a psychic suspense series, supernatural short stories and a musical. She has won or finaled in writing awards for Single Title, Suspense Romance, Paranormal/Fantasy Romance and Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements.

Marilyn has published six books with The Wild Rose Press (TWRP)

http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=marilyn%20baron&inc_subcat=0&sort=20a&page=1. She is under contract for a seventh book, The Widows’ Gallery, part of the new Lobster Cove series with TWRP. She has published four humorous paranormal short stories with TWB Press http://www.twbpress.com/authormarilynbaron.html.

To find out more about Marilyn’s books, stories and upcoming releases, visit her Web site at www.marilynbaron.com and her blog at www.petitfoursandhottamales.com.

Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marilyn-Baron/286807714666748 and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MarilynBaron.