I've had two m/m stories published: Slap & Motley in British Flash (June 2011) and Shelter from Storms in Lashings of Sauce (July 2012)
I also keep rare breed chickens, am slave to a cat, and spend a fair bit of time in our garden, so there's the occasional post about them too.
- Current Mood: happy
Anyone who has read my book Under Leaden Skies has hopefully seen the dedication; for those of you who haven’t, here it is:
It’s an odd thing, writing a tale which revolves around and relies on war as one of its key underlying concepts, without feeling one is in some way glorifying it.
For me personally, WW2 was something which happened to my grandparents’ generation. It shaped their lives for years, and it shaped them in ways it took me decades to understand. I still remember my mum’s frustration at the number of times her mother said, “Well I do things this way because during the war…” (but I have to admit, all of those conversations proved a good grounding for building up a backdrop for my characters’ stories!)
My personal thoughts and feelings about the wisdom or futility of warfare have waxed and waned over the years, and I’ve often returned to the link between this particular war and my own life, and there have been times, particularly during my research for Under Leaden Skies, when I’ve wondered what those who fought for the Allies would make of modern life; whether we squander what they won for us with our consumerist culture and other such foibles of western life. But always, I came back to the word I used in my dedication: “freedom”. I believe that is what was being fought for, throughout WW2 and the Cold War, and many other conflicts besides. And freedom includes the freedom to mess up, to make mistakes, to take the wrong path, and overall to learn from experience and build a better world with the wisdom gained.
Mistakes make us human, our reaction proves our worth. As has been proven many times over, telling people what to do only works so far: you have to help them understand why that is the right thing to do, and only freedom gives us the time to do this.
These days, I am older than my oldest grandparents were at the outbreak of WW2. Would I have coped, and survived, as they did, if similar war broke out today?
I hope I never have to find out.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.
Been a bit of a weird week for me. One of my friends from work died unexpectedly (but thankfully not violently) last weekend. I found out from Facebook around 5am on Monday morning (hadn’t been able to sleep, so resorted to checking the internet). Needless to say, none of us at day-job have been feeling particularly 100% this week, and all of us trying to absorb / accept / come to terms with the news in our own ways…
I’d bought a few ebooks to read on my breaks at work, and wanting to get my head into a different space, I opened the one I’d originally picked up as a “something different” impulse buy – it’s a lesbian romance by an author I’ve not read before. Turned out, one of the protagonists is trans, which I hadn’t realised (and may have induced me to buy it earlier – it’s not a new release!), and there were several incidents in the story which made me cry, not least of which the appearance of a young genderfluid person as a minor character. Proper snuffling-into-my-sleeve, I was at that point…
So, as you can imagine from the above, I’ve been feeling a bit of an emotional mess, and on top of that? The Army have been doing one of their exercises in our area this week – came home on Tuesday to a gaggle of soldiers heaving gear in & out of vehicles just outside the village. You don’t often see a major exercise up our way (the Brecon Beacons is more their usual stomping ground), so it’s yet another thing out of the norm… and we’ve had helicopters overhead most nights because of it. Not very helpful when one is struggling to sleep, but still. At least I know it’s an exercise, and the worst that’ll happen to me is a poor night’s sleep.
So, anyway. Lots of things making my mind a bit of an unsettled place right now, which is why (if anyone’s wondering) I’m less chatty than usual on social media.
Here’s a picture of Rascal, the cat who adopted us, asking why I’m paying more attention to the laptop than to him…
…and I’m back with more story. Apologies for the wait, we’ve had issues with my laptop refusing to connect to the network or internet… seems to be sorted now, but has resulted in a delay of a month before I could post this next bit of the serialised story I’ve been writing for our village newsletter.
Tales from the Chicken House: The Corn Conspiracy
Miss Q, snoozing peacefully on a branch in the chicken run, was woken by excited clucking and fluttering below her. With an inward sigh over the folly of her flock-mates, she lifted her head out from under her wing just as the last hen flew out of the open door to the garden. She glanced up at the human who stood watching her, clucked her thanks, and hopped off the branch and out of the run at a dignified pace. The human burbled something in its odd language and walked away to the human-house at the end of the garden. Miss Q pecked at some fresh green grass as she considered her options.
Somewhere, hidden from view by one of the fenced-off areas of tasty greens, Blackadder crowed and chattered excitedly about finding some red fruit. Miss Q made a mental note of where he was, so that she could investigate later, then hopped away in the opposite direction to have a dust bath under the hedge.
Her solitude was short-lived. Mrs B bustled under the hedge, fluffing her feathers as she settled down and took over most of the dust bath. She clucked happily and told Miss Q all about the tasty treats Blackadder had found in the short time since they’d been released from their run.
“Of course,” Mrs B concluded, “what I’d really like is some corn, but I suppose strawberries will do for now.”
“I know where the corn is.”
Both hens squawked and flapped in surprise at the unexpected voice intruding into Mrs B’s monologue. Socks the cat chuckled, then slunk under the hedge to settle at the edge of their dust bath.
Socks sat, tail curled round her hindquarters, and cleaned her face while she watched the two hens compose themselves. Once satisfied with her appearance, she placed her forepaw a whisker’s breadth from Miss Q’s tail feathers, and repeated herself. “I know where the humans keep your corn. If you’re interested, that is?”
To be continued…
Have you heard of Imzy? I hadn’t until a friend tweeted to offer invites, but I’m glad I caught that tweet and said “yes”.
imzysaurus (a genus of dinosaur native to imzy)
In short, Imzy is a new place for meeting people and discussing things (there’s an article about it here and another article here). Alex Beecroft, who is the friend who brought it to my attention, described it as “might be the new LJ”, which did rather sell me on the idea as I have many happy memories of LJ before it started dying from DDoS attacks.
Key bits of information about imzy (I like how it looks in all lower case so I’m abandoning capitalisation of its ‘I’ unless forced to go back to it):
- everything is community-based. Rather than starting by setting up a profile, like with FB & Twitter, or your own blog (like LJ), after choosing your username you’re asked to select interests, and it will then suggest communities for you to join. Only once you’ve joined a few (thereby populating your home page) do you start setting things like userpic etc.
- You only need one account! It is set up so that you can use different aliases in different communities, and no one will know that you are the same person between communities (unless you tell them). This is so that you can e.g. comment / post under your real name in a community relating to your local area, but under your pen name in a community about writing. (You do have to choose when you first post or comment in each community, and are then stuck with always contributing to that community under that name, so you can’t change your name between posts / comments in the same community)
- It’s still in private, invite-only, beta, so things are changing and you will at the moment be asked by the team for feedback both by messages within imzy, and by email (but you don’t have to respond, of course), and in order for it to be interesting you need to be contributing – if everyone sits around & waits for it to get interesting, it never will!
Most importantly: I HAVE INVITES! I’m posting this on Twitter & FB as well, but basically the first 4 people to shout get them (unless I get given any more, in which case I’ll post again)
And once you’re all signed up, do come and join my community: https://www.imzy.com/sandralindseyauthor
As mentioned previously, I’m writing a serialised story for our village newsletter. You can find part 1 here (I’ll wait for you to come back)… Now! On to part 2, which appeared in July’s edition of the newsletter…
Tales from the Chicken House: The Corn Conspiracy
Mrs B was just settling down for an afternoon snooze inside the chicken house when Blackadder’s loud squawk interrupted her plans.
“Where’s the corn?” Blackadder yelled at the hens, “Who’s eaten all the corn?”
Miss Q said something but it was too quiet for Mrs B to hear, and that annoyed her. If her afternoon snooze was going to be interrupted by the rest of the flock, she wanted to at least listen in on the conversation.
Feeling distinctly ruffled despite her recent preen, Mrs B leapt down from the perch and scampered back outside.
“They haven’t given us any corn, Blackadder!” she reminded him.
“Honestly!” Miss Q squawked at her, “I just got him to calm down, and now you’re winding him up again?”
“No corn?” asked Blackadder, “What do you mean, no corn? Miss Q just told me we all ate it!”
“They didn’t give us any corn today. They didn’t give us any corn yesterday…”
“I’ve not had corn for weeks!” said Blackadder, throwing back his head to crow, “Give me some corn!”
Miss Q pecked at them both. “Blackadder, shut up. You’re being all over-dramatic again. It has NOT been weeks, only two days. And Mrs B! Please stop complaining! We’ve got pellets, and water. The humans even brought us some green stuff earlier, if you remember, and we got mealworms last night.”
“But we want corn!” Mrs B and Blackadder protested in unison.
“Well, I’m sure we will have some soon enough,” Miss Q said, hopping up onto a branch and settling down for an afternoon nap, “Maybe they’re waiting for you two to stop being so noisy? Now. If you could refrain from shouting for a few minutes, some of us would like a rest.” She tucked her head very deliberately under her wing and ignored the other chickens until they wandered off, muttering theories and plans to each other.
To be continued….
To celebrate the launch of Under Leaden Skies this week, I’ve been on a little blog-tour. If you’re interested, and you missed any of the links I posted on the day of each appearance, the links are gathered here:
Charlie Cochrane interviewed me on Wednesday. I was so pleased when she agreed to host me on her blog, as she’s been so supportive in getting me to knuckle down and get my stories available to other readers.
As a member of The Macaronis, I posted there on Wednesday about research and one of my favourite websites for researching the time period in which Under Leaden Skies is set.
Alex Beecroft, another long-standing friend who couldn’t be more supportive of other writers in the genre, invited me onto her blog, where I
stole borrowed without asking permission an idea from the inimitable Chuck Wendig, and wrote about things I learned from writing and publishing Under Leaden Skies (bonus photos of me with aircraft)
Narelle Harris (who is a lovely person) asked me a Quintette of Questions for her Mortal Words blog. These may seem short and easy questions, but they were fiendishly difficult (secret info: other than a vague idea of his height & that he follows fashion in his appearance, I have no idea what Teddy looks like. One of the hazards of letting him take over as first-person narrator. So the question about who would I cast in the roles took me days of research to answer!)
Tonight I’ll be at Manifold Press’ Q & A event on Facebook, and I’m planning another post for The Macaronis which should go live next week. And of course, I posted here about Sunderland flying boats.
I’ll leave you to get back to your book now 😉
I was going to write here a post filled with all the awesomely fantastic facts I learned about Sunderland flying boats during the course of my research, but then I thought: really? I know I’m super-interested in them, but that’s because I’ve been reading & learning about them for over 4 years now… and it did take me a week or so to warm up to them in the first place (I actually started off my research by thinking I’d write about a pilot of a Catalina, after seeing one of them at RAF Museum Cosford).
So instead, here are some of my favourite Sunderland facts, followed by a few pictures:
- Short Sunderland flying boats were the only type of aircraft to be in continuous service with the RAF for the entire duration of WW2
- Sunderland flying boats, and the occupation of Iceland, played a vital role in closing the “mid-Atlantic gap” (the space between the ranges of aircraft flying out from Scotland & those flying out from Canada) and protecting Allied shipping during the Battle of the Atlantic, until the USA joined the war and brought along their Liberators (for their time, these were super-long-range aircraft)
- post-WW2, Sunderlands saw service in Europe during the Berlin Airlift. Unlike most aircraft, they could be used to carry salt without any fears of corrosion (once the Havelsee froze and was no longer able to be used for landing, other aircraft, fitted with panniers under the fuselage, took over this cargo)
- They were dubbed ‘flying porcupines’ by Luftwaffe pilots
- the playwright Sir Terrence Rattigan served in the RAF during WW2, and it was here that he wrote his play Flare Path – more accurately, he wrote it whilst serving as a tail gunner in a Sunderland flying boat, stationed in West Africa
Sleeping quarters – port side
(bomb bay visible behind bulkhead & ladder leads up to gunnery positions)
There’s a whole host more pictures & information out there, if I’ve tempted you into being as interested as I am in these aircraft and their crews!
Today I’ve been visiting The Macaronis to chatter about research and one of my favourite places online for doing that, and I also popped my head round the door of Charlie Cochrane’s gaff. She grilled me – mercilessly, I tell you! – with a whole range of writing-related questions.
So, if you want to know who I’d call on to help me out of a fix, hie thee hence to find out!
So, Under Leaden Skies was released yesterday.
I find I’m feeling a lot more higgledy-piggledy about it than I thought I would… I mean, I’ve known these characters for 4 years! I put their story to one side for at least 2 years, but still they nagged at me, and I’ve been wanting to share them and their story with other people for so long… but now I’m a little bit dazed and, yes, worried, about what others might see in ‘my’ characters that I didn’t see myself.
I just need to let go. They’re not mine now, if they ever were. They’re out there, on their own, ready to meet everyone who cares to spend the time to read their story.
The main thing, that I didn’t expect though? Is that I’m currently feeling very glad that I’ve not yet started drafting the sequel. I think I needed that little bit extra push to let go of them so that I can let them grow into the people they become later in their lives.