Archive for » March, 2013 «

A Story Of How God Changed My Life

As some of my readers are aware I’m a Christian. I have been since October 26th 2004 at approximately 9:50pm. I go to church almost every Sunday and often both the morning and evening service. Over the last eight and a half years I’ve seen some pretty amazing things happen. There have been healings, encounters with the holy spirit, visions and all sorts of other miracles. A whole bunch of stuff that just isn’t explainable in any other way than, God showed up.

Most of the time my personal experiences of God are very much that; personal. Someone I know refers to them as kisses from heaven. Little things that God does that only really mean something to me, but recently I had a big something happen. It’s not the first and I really hope it won’t be the last, but it was bigger than I’m used to and I wanted to tell this one, after all it is my occupation, telling stories. This one just happens to be true.

As many of my blog readers have been aware I’ve been going to hospital and doctors appointments a lot lately. I’ve never come out and said what was wrong but it was quite major so I’m going to finally explain.

A little under two years ago I started to notice, for no reason I could pin down, my body would reject food occasionally. I’d eat something, think I was totally okay and then about 1-2 hours later I’d get a lot of stomach pains and find myself having to rush to the loo. It wasn’t pleasant.

Originally I thought this might be some kind of allergy. I tried cutting out all sorts of foods, one by one. Caffeine, dairy, spicy foods, wheat, gluten. None of it helped and the problem slowly got worse and worse until, not only was this happening upwards of once per week, but I was also finding a really black substance coming out with everything else (I later learnt this was what digested blood looked like).

I also started to grow really really tired. It started to get difficult to go for the usual walks I went for. I couldn’t walk back up the Bath hills home after shopping in the city centre and I could barely cope with a few minutes standing at the sink to do the washing up. I felt tired, almost constantly. Getting out of bed took effort and sometimes I would feel like I’d walked 10 miles when all I’d done is showered.

For the first little while I went back and forth to the doctors, trying to get them to take me seriously and understand something more than stress was wrong with me. I grew quite depressed at finding every day was a constant process of decisions between the many things I wanted to do. Things I never used to have to choose between. If I worked for a few hours I wouldn’t be able to do the chores and if I walked to town to run this errand I would either have to stay there till I got a lift back or spend money on the bus. If I spent time with friends it would mean I couldn’t write as much. Every day was full of painful choices.

There was a week when I had family visiting and I had to take about a week off, both before and after they came, to rest because spending time with them and trying to have fun tired me out that much. Shopping and trying on clothes was exhausting, and on top of that I couldn’t eat a whole bunch of things and was on pills that had to be taken 20 minutes before I ate. No caffeine, no alcohol, no dairy, no insoluble fibre (bran, wholegrain, seeds, raw vegetables, fruit skins, coconut etc), no sweeteners and not too much carbonated drinks.

On top of all of that, timing taking those pesky pills to be close enough to twenty minutes before eating, when going out to eat was a nightmare! Not to mention the times my husband would start cooking a meal at home (I was often far too tired by then to help cook) it would get to about five minutes before it would be ready and one of us would remember I hadn’t taken a pill. The amount of times I’ve had a plate of food in front of me that was starting to get cold and I couldn’t eat it yet are too numerous to count.

And even after all that there was more. About half the time I had some kind of stomach pain, often dull aches but occasionally the pain would get so bad I’d be doubled up in agony. Pretty much the rest of the time everything would feel unsettled, tense and uncomfortable. The few times I felt okay for some reason I would usually notice and comment in surprise to my husband that I actually felt comfortable for once.

I had hospital test after hospital test (and lots of those were rather unpleasant too) and nothing showed up. All they seemed to know was my bowels were really not happy and I was bleeding somewhere as yet undiscovered.

Needlesss to say by the end of 2012 I had pretty much retreated into myself. I wrote when I could, spent most of my time on the sofa, except for Sundays were I went to church and tried to get my tired self through the service and encounter God in some way. Often I would have to fight my feelings to even get to church but it really was the highlight of my week. I mean it. I enjoyed church the whole way through. I know that’s a foreign idea to many people, but I loved going to church, I have ever since that moment in 2004.

I knew it would be all to easy to get angry at God, especially as I felt like I was watching my dreams all slip out of reach with every day that went by and I still felt too tired to do anything but sit, but somehow I didn’t. I cried a lot, I asked my husband how life could be so unfair a few times and saw the pained expression as he tried to answer but I never really got angry at God. I focused on all the little things God had done for me, all the little ways my life was still better than it had been before October 26th 2004, and somehow, week after week I kept going, trusting, and making the best of what I had.

At the start of this year though I felt my attitude changing a little. I stopped saying no to everything that required energy. I got angry, but not at God. I suppose angry isn’t quite the right word. It wasn’t really anger so much as defensiveness. I decided I was going to see my dreams come true, even though I didn’t have the energy right now. It wasn’t really as simple as that sounds though. I just knew I had to keep moving forwards. That every day I had to take a step towards something important or I’d end up sliding backwards.

I started looking out for opportunities to do something a bit more challenging. I even abseiled for charity (yes I did this while really sick. In hindsight I really don’t recommend it. I was dizzy while standing at the top and with the adrenaline I got buzzed with coming down, when I reached the bottom I almost went right over and getting down the rockface itself, well let’s just say that’s on my list of things I hope I never ever have to go through again).

I also finally started telling people what was actually wrong with me. I guess I stopped being proud and hiding it, but I think even now there are people that were fairly close to me who don’t know quite how sick I got. I just didn’t want to talk about it, but I think I should have. I also think I probably should have asked for help more often, but I know I got better at being open about it and I think that was a good thing.

As you have probably worked out by now this blog post is all written in past tense. That does mean I’m no longer sick. The first Sunday in March I was absolutely shattered. I remember thinking I was more tired than even I normally felt and I’d been to the morning service, eaten lunch with friends and really didn’t feel very good. I was in pain and only going to the evening service because things had been amazing two weeks before at our Church’s album launch and there was a part of me that really wanted to connect to God like that again. It was a struggle though. I hurt, I was tired and it’s a lot of effort to stand and worship, but I made myself do it.

Part way through the service a bunch of people were encouraged to come to the front if they felt like they had been silenced lately. I went up. I am not even sure if I really felt like I had been silenced. Technically I was still writing, but it was one of those moments where my body started moving and taking me to the front before I could really think about it. I just went up, on instinct or whatever you’d call it.

Oddly enough as I remember it now, as soon as I got up there the pain I was feeling faded. I worshipped and stood side by side by a whole bunch of other people. Then at some point our pastor said to put our hands up if we needed a body healing of some kind. Again my hand shot up, before I could really think about it. I wasn’t exactly opposed to the idea of being prayed for to be healed but I’d not gone out of my way to seek it either. But I remember thinking ‘What have I got to lose? I know God heals. I’ve seen him do it before. Maybe today’s the day he wants to heal me again.’

So a couple of people came up to pray for me and I have to say what happened next is really really hard to explain. I remember finding it hard to breathe. It was like I couldn’t breathe out though, like something kept wanting to come in and fill me up, and fill me up it did. If I hadn’t known it was God I actually think it would have been rather scary. I felt filled with something incomprehensibly powerful. Something not me, but part of me, all at the same time. I’d felt filled up with stuff before in the presence of God. I’d felt loved and a sense of peace but I’d never felt anything quite so full on ‘it could do anything it wanted to’ powerful before. I guess it’s what I imagine superman must have felt the first time he lifted a car or iron man when he walked into that first barrage of bullets and nothing harmed him. I do also remember thinking ‘holy crap’ a few times as well and I almost laughed aloud at the ironicness of swearing at being filled up with God’s power. I also remember feeling like my insides were on fire, especially my face behind my eyes. They tingled and yeah, it was weird. But eventually it was over and I went home. I felt like something had happened, but I didn’t know what. It really could have been anything.

It wasn’t until the Thursday after I noticed I wasn’t in any pain and I actually couldn’t remember if Sunday had been the last time I had been in pain. Over the next few days I just made a note of how my body was behaving and I noticed I could get up in the mornings. I woke up and I felt okay. Not amazing but I was actually waking up when my husband’s work alarm went off and I didn’t have to persuade my body to get up.

By the following Sunday I mentioned it to a few people. I just told them I felt really good and hadn’t been having any problems. I thought there was a chance I’d been healed. By Tuesday I felt sure enough to tell my church small group and Wednesday morning I stopped taking the pills. Thursday I went for a walk. A 4-5 mile long walk. I went with a friend and do you know what, I felt better than he did when we got back to the house. Other than a few achy muscles that weren’t used to being used I didn’t even feel like I’d been for a walk.

Since then, I’ve had alcohol, caffeine and re-introduced everything else back into my diet but the dairy (the caffeine was interesting. It turns out I’m now so sensitive to it I kept myself awake all night after having about 250ml of dr pepper one afternoon, so I think I’ll be limiting myself to how much caffeine I have, but not for medical reasons). I’m going to try the dairy as well soon but it had a worse effect than anything else so I’m going to do that one gradually.

I’m now sitting looking at my life with the energy I had before, there’s no pain and no problems. I’m not bleeding and I’ve got more energy than my husband! God changed my life. And I don’t actually think He did it because I did anything or followed some magical formula, or said the right words at the right time. I think He did it, just because He could, because He decided that He wanted, in that moment, to give me my life back.

The biggest thought I’m left with is this. I really hope I don’t forget how much I appreciate having my life back. How amazing it feels to be able to do everything I want to, when I want to. How great it is to have choices that don’t hurt. I really hope I choose the right things to do with all this extra time and energy I’ve got. I hope I put it to good use, because it’s a gift. One that can be taken away, and it wasn’t until it was gone that I realised how valuable it was.

The Moon Dwellers: A Review

I was given a free copy of this Young Adult Sci-Fi ebook by the author David Estes in return for my review.

It’s taken me a little while to figure out exactly what I think of this book. I got into the storyline very quickly and adore the characters, even though I feel a little old to be reading this genre now.

The style threw me for the first page or two and then again every time I picked the book back up again. It was a sort of present tense first person which struck me as a little odd because most books are written in third person and a mix of predominently past tense with a little present tense in description and action. I also noticed almost all dialogue had some kind of tag like says, asks etc. but oddly enough this didn’t break up the flow of the dialogue like it normally does and I think this quirky style had something to do with it.

Had I been looking to buy this book myself and tried the sample as I usually do I don’t think I’d have bought the book, but I actually think I’d have missed out. The style makes it feel like it’s a young kid who wrote it and I have to admit I checked out the author’s bio to check for sure that an adult had written it. For its target audience it’s perfect, which is why this book got the full five stars from me.

I also liked the hunger games/city of ember style vibe and plot and I’ll be adding the rest of the series to my to-read list. If you liked reading the hunger games books this is a pretty good equivalent in terms of writing style and setting.

Regrets

I recently read a blog by author Bobbi Holmes about death and she mentioned that it had made her wonder if family of deceased authors read the books they wrote because they realise the author has left something of themselves behind.

It made me think, especially about the idea that something of us goes into our art, and that it’s an important part of us. My words have me in them, and anyone who reads them is connecting with me, even if they are the other side of the planet.

As a writer I know it means a lot to me when people I care about take the time to appreciate my art. There’s very little that says I value you more than someone taking the time to read something I put hours of my time, countless emotions, and a small part of some vulnerable inner place.

I sometimes wonder how many people realise that something like this goes into the creative process and I wonder how many realise it too late. I Know if it was me I would struggle with feelings of regret. I would regret not reading while they were alive, and I’d regret not telling them if I appreciated it, but most of all I would regret how I hadn’t let them know I cared, that I wanted to get to know them.

So today I want to remind myself to appreciate the creativity of the people I care about, to do something that let’s them know I care, to take an interest in them and try to ensure that when they are gone, I’ve one less possible regret.

State of Play: A Review

This was one of those films that I only really watched because I was tired, it was late but not too late and I wanted to curl up on the sofa with something to do. I vaguely remember hearing about it when it came out but it was not advertised quite enough to catch my attention.

I was immediately impressed with Russell Crowe being the reporter and think the longer hair actually really suited him. Before now I’ve only really seen this guy in historical movies like Gladiator and Robin Hood so seeing him playing someone modern was quite a change.

On top of that Ben Affleck was actually pretty good as the infidelious politician. I could believe all the naughty things he got up to while at the same time suspect he might be innocent, and it helped to keep me guessing throughout the film.

The pacing was a little slow but the tension was perfect. I spent most of the film really expecting someone to get shot at any moment, which is rare. Normally I feel a bit more ‘safe’ about the good guy characters when watching a film.

I was informed after watching this that it is a remake of an older film which has made me quite curious to see the origional. Although I loved this casting and think Helen Mirren especially, would be difficult to live up to (I know, technically Helen Mirren is doing the living up to, but I saw this one first).

All in all, I think I’d have been dissapointed if I’d seen this film on the big screen. It’s got a sort of gentle plod to it but I still enjoyed it and really had to keep watching.

Wandering to Belong

Now that Sherdan’s Prophecy has all been blogged I’ll be returning this slot to sharing something I’ve been working on in one of the many different creative fields I like messing around in, so here’s a sample from my most recent release, Wandering to Belong.

The flickering lanterns and torches of the small village caught Aneira’s eye. Her stomach rumbled as her mind associated the warmth and comfort of the place with good food. Over the last few weeks she had struggled to hunt enough to feed herself, and a village would have crops and potentially other necessities she could trade for.

Making her mind up on that thought alone, she changed direction and trudged over the rocky grass land. As the evening darkened she lowered her head. The lights from the village would taint what little she could see in the dark of night if they were in view. If she also concentrated on each step at a time it helped to keep her feet going when all they wanted to do was rest; something she had learnt long ago.

Sounds of the village soon greeted her ears and she allowed herself to look up at the hopeful sight. There were a few stone built houses, not many, but enough to show good masonry, and another handful of wooden houses along the edge nearest to her. She imagined there would be a similar number on the other side of the village.

She looked for the shields of a chieftain or warrior’s hut as a few people scurried here and there, eager to be indoors rather than out in the night. No one noticed her approach and she kept it that way, sticking to the shadows and hedges until she’d checked out the shield’s design, if one existed.

As she snuck up into the shadow beside one of the pale stone houses she noticed what she sought. A shield hung on the building opposite, just below a lit torch. The pattern wasn’t one she recognised which meant that this village didn’t submit to any Lords she knew of.

She slunk back the way she had come to double back and enter into the village along the dirt track. Coming into the centre of the village in full view would make her look less like a threat.

Previously, she’d walked straight into any civilisation but she’d soon learnt to be wary of certain Lords. When she crept in she found people were suspicious. And being driven off when she was this hungry didn’t appeal to her.

Once she was out in the open she lowered her hood from her smooth black hair. She kept it short to help keep it neat and tidy but strands still framed her thin face. Once she’d patted down her hair to neaten it, she stowed her bow on her back and rearranged her small pack of belongings, to make sure straying hands couldn’t get into it without alerting her.

With slow, deliberate steps she made her way into the village. The first woman who saw her didn’t even acknowledge she existed and this helped Aneira feel more at ease. The next nodded briefly, before continuing with her business.

So far they looked like a busy, but fairly poor, farming community with not much to worry about in terms of safety. There wasn’t even a small jail or military type building. Just the chief’s house, an inn and a few other slightly smaller stone houses for the richer of the people, probably the actual land owners. She’d not seen any cattle, and there didn’t appear to be any horses in the two berth stable.

Most people had shuttered up their houses already and light only leaked out around older windows in need of maintenance, but the tavern had a few windows open and the noise of laughter and conversation greeted her.

As she reached the door she sucked in her breath, tried to look as harmless as possible and pushed into the tavern. Immediately the room went quiet and all eyes turned her way. She did her best to appear calm as she walked up to the bar and the man who stood behind it, drying some metal tankards with a dirty looking cloth.

“Good evening,” she said, breaking the silence.

“Evenin’ stranger. What can I get you?”

“I’m afraid I’ve not got any money. I’ve been travelling a long while but I can work hard. Do you know of anyone here who might need some work doing in return for some food, and a bed for the night?”

The bar keep looked thoughtful while the whole inn around her remained silent. She knew everyone had heard her words but it seemed none of them were going to help. Just as she was about to tell him not to worry and that she’d move on, he put his tankard down and walked through to the back room.

“Darlin’ do yah want some ‘elp with the dishes? Got a whelp ‘ere who wants to do somethin’ fer a spot o’ food and a place to kip.”

Aneira couldn’t hear the reply as the door swung shut behind the bulk of the owner, but it seemed like they were going to take pity on her anyway. Still looking young had its benefits. While she stood waiting for the Landlord to come back, conversations around her started up again and people went back to their drinks. So far so good.

The door swung open again and the tavern owner stepped out. He held the door open and motioned with his head for her to go through. She smiled as she rushed around the bar to do as he asked.

As soon as she stepped through into the kitchen the smell of hot food assaulted her senses. The woman at the stove was almost as large as the tavern owner himself. They all obviously ate well and with any luck would treat her to a similarly sized meal. She nodded at the middle-aged woman as she was looked over.

“I’m Aneira. What would you like me to do?” she said after a moment’s wait.

“The dishes need doin’ fer starters, then we’ll see what else there is.”

She nodded and looked over at the sink. It was stacked full of pots, pans, dirty plates and tankards; eating would have to wait.

***

Aneira sank into the wooden chair, not sure if the creaking noises were the wood as she sat down or her knees, from standing so long. It had taken her several hours to battle through the mountain of washing up, especially as every little thing that Heulwen thought might need cleaning had been put into the sink at some point. Her fingers were wrinkled and her nails had never looked so clean, but she had finally finished and the couple had seemed impressed with her work.

While she waited for the food she’d been promised she had a proper look around the inn. Now that it was later many of the villagers had gone to their homes but some remained and continued to chatter. Most of them were considerably less sober than they had been when she’d arrived but a few were still steady on their feet.

The Landlord made her jump as he put a plate down in front of her.

“’Ere you go lass, tuck into that.”

She needed no second encouragement and bit straight into the hot pork pie, following it with several shovellings of creamy mashed potato and gravy. Within minutes the slice of pie and mash had gone and before the owner could return with a drink for her she’d started on the bread and butter beside.

“Thank you, Merrion,” she said around a mouth full of bread dipped in the gravy. She picked up the tankard and almost downed the sweet liquid. It wasn’t something she’d ever drunk before, but it didn’t have the bitter aftertaste alcohol did, so she figured it was safe to guzzle.

“Well that didn’t take long. Will you be wantin’ some more?” Merrion said as she wiped the plate clean with the last hunk of bread. Her eyes went wide and she stared at him for a moment. The plate had been a feast to her and here he was asking if she wanted more. She nodded her head vigorously in case he changed his mind. The man just chuckled and she found herself grinning at how much of his body wobbled up and down, even after he’d stopped.

Once he’d returned with a second plate filled with an equal portion as before, he left her to eat and went back to his bar and customers. She took her time with the seconds, noticing an unfamiliar feeling of fullness in her stomach. It didn’t stop her demolishing the food again, however.

The tavern soon closed and Merrion came and sat down with her, bringing her another drink at the same time.

We’ve got a spare bed, up in the loft. You can kip in it when you’re ready, then you’d best be on your way tomorrow and get as far from ‘ere as you can.” The tone of his voice peaked her curiosity. It had been a while since she’d heard fear in a grown man’s voice. Especially one who didn’t seem to have anything to fear.

“What if I want to stay a bit longer?”

“You’d be a fool. You’ve got sense, I can see it behind those eyes of yours. Get yourself up and gone first thing in the mornin’ and make sure you’re as far away as you can get by the followin’ day.”

“Why, what’s going to happen?”

Whatever it was, the inn keeper wouldn’t say any more about it, and before she could think of another way of asking to get him talking again, Heulwen came out of the kitchen and ushered them both upstairs to sleep.

If you liked this sample and want to buy the rest of the story it’s currently available as an ebook on amazon.com, and amazon.co.uk.

They Won’t Be Missed: A Review

This book was suggested to me by the author when I mentioned I did book reviews on my blog so I downloaded the sample and checked it out.

I was less than half way through the sample before I knew I had to get the rest of this book and find out what happened, and less than a day later I’d munched through the whole thing (I was very loath to put it down to sleep).

The main character, Mark, was engaging and I really felt his frustration, especially at the US system (it still bugs me that people can lose everything just because someone in their family gets sick). The story was interesting and I was spoonfed details at enough of a pace to keep me interested yet slow enough I found it difficult to guess quite what would happen next.

I also totally loved Amber. She was one very cool kid and it gave a softer side to Mark to see him interacting with her.

The book was quite short and I got through it very quickly so I’d love to see some longer works by this author but they definitely have a new fan in me either way.

Finding Good Books to Read: How-To

This was a topic requested in my comments a while back. I said I’d do it so here it is.

Good books can come from all sorts of places so I thought I’d share some of the ways I find the next books for my to-read list.

The first way has to be recommendations. Books other people have read and raved about, old classics I was told about long ago and am only now getting around to reading and finally Amazon’s recommendations themselves.

When I first got back into reading lots only one source of these worked, the classics but I found as I read more and talked to others about what I was reading they started talking to me about similar books they’d read.

Another way I get good books to read is definitely Goodreads. It’s one of the best sites out there for a reader and it also keeps track of my massive to-read list as well as the books I’ve said I’d review for one reason or another. For that reason alone I’d recommend it but it’s also a great place to meet people with similar tastes, by joining genre groups or all sorts of other groups or following someone’s reviews who you’ve come to trust.

On top of all that Goodreads recommends books based on what you’re already told the site you’ve read and rated. It also helps you find books by the same author as you’ve already read and even get into contact with those authors too. Then there’s the giveaways. I’ve entered several and one won a paperback of a book I liked the look of recently. Plus all the review opportunities in the various groups. There’s always a thread somewhere with authors offering free ebooks in exchange for your honest review. It’s a great way to try new genres and new authors.

If Goodreads fails me (which is rare) there’s also a lot of facebook groups that try and connect authors and readers together to help them find each other and help them find books as well as many pages which share ebook links daily of their recommendations.

Finally, you can set up a review blog and let the books come to you. There aren’t enough good book bloggers out there to keep up with the demand caused by the currnet influx of authors so I pretty much guarantee anyone who starts one up and lets people know about it that plenty of books will come your way, to the point you’ll have to turn lots away.

I hope that helps with finding good books. I use a combination of all of the above and I don’t think I’ll ever get my to-read list to come below 100 books ever again.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A Review

This is the third and currently final film being made  in this series (even though there are seven books).

This time only Lucy and Edmund go to Narnia (along with cousin Eustace) and the elder Pevensie children are in the US with mum and dad, doing something important.

This is also the first time we see that time in Narnia doesn’t correlate at all with time in the real world. Last time a whole year had passed between visits and thousands of years had passed in Narnia. This time it gives an indication that at least six months has passed in the real world (quite possibly more) and only a few years has gone by in Narnia. As a resuly Prince Caspian is back and they’re there to help him on his quest.

As with all the previous films this is another good vs evil story. The bad ‘guy’ is the evil growing way over east beyond all chartered land.

Just like in the previous two, Aslan features less and less, expecting the children to rely on what they’ve learnt before and the tests of their beliefs are for the most part more subtle. At least until right at the end, where the white witch makes, yet another appearance.

Part way through making this film it was sold from one studio to another (something about the cost of all the cg water) and unfortunately it shows. There just isn’t quite the same epic feel to this one, despite the massive quest they’ve gone on and it does seem to be a little ‘lost’ in terms of what they were trying to say with it. I can only assume they are trying to show the white witch fighting against Aslan again but the lack of Aslan doesn’t make as much sense (he only shows up to Lucy once in her dream and right at the end to send everyone home) and the increased amount of time the white witch is there doesn’t make much sense.

I guess it’s a shame because it’s still a wonderful world and Ben is even better as Caspian this time around. He’s less whinny and way more like a Narnian King. I also thought Lucy and Eustace were fantastic but Edmund, the white witch and the general feeling of rushing from one plot point to another in hopes to get it over and done with as quickly as possible let this film down a little. Definitely the weakest of the three so far but still reasonably enjoyable. Unfortunately it probably means they won’t bother with any more of them.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 39

Sherdan couldn’t say how long he had cried over Anya’s letter. The whole evening passed in a blur of re-reading the same painful words and trying to get Anne to leave him alone and go home. Now and then, the tears gave way to angry outbursts where he cursed Anya for coming to see him in the first place.

She had left her kitten behind and the sight of the abandoned gift only pained him even more. Anne had the good sense to take the poor thing with her when she finally went back to her own family.

He had completely lost his desire for food and ignored everything he was offered. He considered getting a bottle of brandy but knew if he started drinking today he would go too far. There was also a small part of him that wanted to feel the pain he had in his heart: the deep ache of longing to see Anya’s face again.

Sherdan wandered aimlessly about the house; first in her room, staring at its emptiness, then in his study, gazing at the screens he had first watched her on. All of it felt like daggers twisting in his core and knowing Hitchin had been taken from the country made it all the worse.

In times like this his friend would have sat with him, reassuring him with words from his visions, stopping him from being alone in the dark.

The documents Miss Miller had given him lay forgotten on his desk since he got back. He remembered them and picked them up. If Hitchin couldn’t be there in person perhaps reading his words would lessen some of the loss he felt.

He knew the second vision was in the leather bound journal he had seen Hitchin fetch recently but Sherdan felt more curious about the typed documents. He flicked through the pages, checking the dates. There appeared to be an entry for each day and, as far as Sherdan could tell, it appeared a more thorough diary than the hand written one.

Sherdan frowned, puzzled about why Hitchin would keep two, vastly different diaries. He stopped flicking through the pages when he reached mid-December in the previously unseen version and started skim reading.

As he read, he grew more and more stunned. The day after Anya arrived, Hitchin had written at length about her, despite Sherdan having not yet said the intruder was a woman. Hitchin had met her. He had been in the lab she had run into when she had been breaking in.

Sherdan’s jaw dropped open as he continued to read.

I knew then Sherdan would develop a crush on her and I am going to need to keep and eye on them both. I won’t let Sherdan’s fascination with the opposite sex put our plans in jeopardy.

He couldn’t read on for a moment, overwhelmed by what he saw. After a pause Sherdan skim read through until Christmas where Anya was mentioned again.

I sat with Sherdan a lot today. His talk of Miss Price has me very concerned. She should be treated like any other security risk but he has her locked in one of his bedrooms. He is a fool for thinking she will be safe there. The only way to save him from ruin is to break her. The guards were close and Sherdan will have to finish the job. I have already told him I think another vision is on the way.

I know if I convince him it is meant to be, that he will force her to give him a child and have her completely submissive to his every will. He will just need pushing in the right direction and the brilliant thing is, it was Sherdan himself who gave me the idea. The guards that interrogated her told me only yesterday that they thought he had stopped the interrogation to take over himself. He had said as much over the radio.

Once I have thought about all the details I will tell Sherdan he is meant to have her and he will do everything else for me. Maybe one day I will tell him the truth but not until the next female has taken his fancy. For now this project is more important.

Sherdan couldn’t read any further. He felt sick at the implications of what Hitchin had written. He had almost done exactly what Hitchin had expected him to and only Anya herself had seen through it. No wonder she had left him.

The country they had been planning may well have achieved all its goals but at what price? The damage they had done, he had done, to an innocent girl just because of the paranoid worries of one man. Even if the vision had been true he realised he hadn’t deserved her.

It had crossed his mind that evening on several occasions to demand Anya return to him but he could no longer do that. She was better off without him and far from his country.

He put his head in his hands and wept. Anya wasn’t meant to be by his side and now he found the person he’d always thought would be there, had been against him. Sherdan really was alone in the dark.

The End

Yup, that’s the end! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this novel. If you have and want to say thanks in a financial way, please consider purchasing a copy of the ebook, and if that’s not something you can afford right now please let others know how much you enjoyed the novel, so hopefully they can enjoy it too!

Nation: A review

This is one of few books recently by Terry Pratchett that’s not part of the Discworld series.

The usual amazing humour of Pratchett comes out straight away in this novel and it’s easy to fall in love with the quirky larger than life characters. The main character Mau, comes back from his manhood right of passage to find his village gone, thanks to a massive tidal wave, as such he doesn’t complete the usual rituals and is officially neither a man or a boy. He has to struggle with both this and being the only person left alive from his tribe, as well as many other things along the way.

To begin with I really enjoyed the book. The two main characters were cute and everything made sense but from about half way through there started to be more of a mention of spirits, religion and science related stuff and I just got the feeling that the author’s own opinions on these things came through a bit too strongly. It’s very hard to strike a balance between these subjects and not overbear one way or another and I just don’t feel it fully worked in this case.

I expected the tribal villagers to have some concept of spirits but I think it just went too far from the norm in that respect.

Plot wise I felt the ending was a little rushed and convenient. Unlike the Discworld books when there’s bad guys to fight there’s usually a fair amount of tension but for some reason I didn’t feel too tense reading this except for a few moments during one part of a fight.

Still pretty good but just not Pratchett’s best.