New Year Celebration?

Please forgive me for being a party pooper but I dislike New Year. I think I detest it because I simply don’t understand it. What are we celebrating?

I suppose we are pleased to be getting rid of one year and welcoming a new one with all its potential. But don’t we do exactly that every single day? What is so special about this particular day?

And if I am to celebrate the potential of a new year then why does it begin with a hangover? what a great start – a late night and too much alcohol – the new year is already ruined before it even began!

No, if it were down to me, I’d be going to bed at a normal hour and treating it like any other day in my life. Frankly, I would rather it were still 2014 when I wake up tomorrow anyway. Why would I celebrate getting older by another year? Hell, I am still trying to figure out why 2014 went by so fast…

In fact, life is speeding up. 2014 was so quick and I know 2015 will be even faster. Slow down please!

No, I am sorry, but this is one tradition I could live without.

Happy Holidays!

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A Yorkshire Christmas

Christmas Eve was spent collecting Ammonites on a cold, blustery but magnificently beautiful day on the Yorkshire coast. We found lots of these whirly fossils in the lower Jurassic of Ravenscar and the walk down and then back up the cliffs was refreshing and invigorating. This experience was topped off with a delicious cream tea at Raven Hall Hotel. It couldn’t have been any better.

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As the three of us trooped down the muddy path, I reflected on the many trips around Yorkshire fossil hunting I had done with my late Father. Not only did we hunt fossils but we explored the area in depth. Roman roads, ancient burial sites, viking villages. You name it, we did it. We even found a whole bunch of iron age pottery that we donated to the Yorkshire museum – Staxtonware – from the valley just at the Scarborough side of Staxton hill. I was back in my element and enjoying that.

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We took a look at the Alum works and I tried to explain to my daughter that the rocks above us were brought down to this place and treated with gallons of human pee brought by ship from Hull to the south. I asked her the question my Father had once asked me, “Can you imagine how it would have smelled here?” By the wrinkled nose look she gave me, she probably could.

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After the cream tea, it was back to Beverley to finish the trifle we had left there that my Mother had made at my request. Delicious!

My daughter had never experienced Santa delivering presents. In the Czech republic, they are delivered by Jezisek and on Christmas Eve conveniently just after dinner. She enjoyed ripping open the presents that morning and she opened everyones just for good measure. She was also fascinated by the Christmas crackers and managed to go through a couple of boxes of them! Just the thing for her, little plastic novelty gifts and party hats in everyone!

Christmas dinner followed and she enjoyed traditional turkey and trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and rum sauce. Actually, she didn’t much care for the pudding which meant I got double helpings….

It was a brilliant experience for my daughter but it was also nice to be with my Mother and family back in the place I was born for Christmas for the first time in over 30-years. Hull City even managed an away win on Boxing Day……

Happy Holidays!

Well, I am going to take a break this week and won’t be back until next Monday. For the first time, we will celebrate Xmas elsewhere and leave tonight. Thanks to everyone for stopping by periodically and humoring my madness with your eyes and sometimes your hearts (and even wallets?). It’s been a good year really and I hope 2015 will be good too!

If you are still searching desperately for presents – how about a book? One of MY books? The Last Observer perhaps or My Haunted Life?

Otherwise, Happy Holidays!

See you all in a week.

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The Cross

Have to admit

I am deeply flawed

And no matter how hard I try

These things so deeply lie

Burn

Scorched Earth

Wash

Scrubbed Air

Balancing elements

Losing irrelevants

In places

No soap has ever been

In places

No physical eyes have seen

Still, it’s not enough

Some habits hang tough

The flaws magnified

Obsessing over scratches

While missing the gaping wound

Bleeding

Pleading

Seeing life ooze away

Nothing left except to pray

Elements stirred

Returned to the point

At which we started

When these four were parted

Burn

Scorched Earth

Wash

Scrubbed Air

Four-lorn, I am

The fifth gets

Short shrift

The Lamb

I am

A Cross

Free of Dross

I am

Yes, I truly am

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Christmas is Just Silly!

Christmas has many facets. One of them is the never ending commercialization of what really should be a simple family Christian religious celebration. Of course, christmas has in its central theme, much for non-Christians to peruse and consider in terms of its greater spiritual meaning and in terms of other non-Christian celebrations at this time of the year. However, the endless commercialization has really spoiled for me what used to be a happy and beautiful time of the year.

In the Czech Republic, christmas decorations generally still go up around the 1st December. Some of the chain stores with HQ’s overseas start earlier though. In other places like the US and the UK, christmas basically now starts in October or even earlier. It is no longer a religious holiday unless your religion happens to be shopping! Even more bizarre is that the sales begin now before christmas too. Walking around London in late November, I was surprised to observe many company Xmas parties taking place already. The commercialization extends to the internet too of course and the internet begins to be lit up like a christmas tree by mid-October too. I really detest this.

By making christmas last 3-months it’s specialness has been erased. It was a special few days when I was growing up and now its a season all in of itself!

I also have to reflect on Christmas in another way these days too. As we celebrate what is the birth of the Christian savior or avatar and reflect on the values taught by Christ, contrast that with the downright lies we tell our own children! Every year, as parents we concoct a litany of lies about big merry men in red and white sliding down chimneys bearing gifts. He is carried there by a sleigh that flies pulled by several reindeer that can also fly. Apparently, this man lives at the North Pole with Elves and other strange creatures making toys (I think actually, this part is incorrect, it is plainly obvious these days that Santa lives in a place called China. It says so on all of the toys he brings). Any rational and sane person would deeply distrust a man who liked to dress up and be surrounded by elves and children!

OK. I get it. It is fun and it is part of the whole charade we play at this time of year but eventually our own children come to understand that, despite telling them not to lie and fib and make things up, their parents have happily been doing it to them for years… What kind of example does that set?

Then we have the christmas movies, songs and so on. Cynically, just a bunch of people making money out of the holidays.

No, Christmas, is a strange and bizarre time of the year if you really stop to think about it and these days, its a long way from what Christmas was supposed to be. However, I am no Scrooge and I will do my very best to celebrate the holidays this year….

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Meanwhile, here is another view of Christmas – a short story written last week and as a seasonal gift, please do download Moon whispers for Free today before its too late….

Medium – From My Haunted Life Too

There was a time growing up when I became quite fascinated by spiritualism. The idea that a person could communicate with the dead—actually see and hear ghosts—was of great interest to me. This was an interest that my mother was actually willing to share with me, and so we ended up taking a couple of trips to a spiritualist church in Hull, England. These sessions were always characterized as demonstrations of clairvoyance, rather than speaking with the dead; but that is exactly what these people did.

On our second trip, my dad decided to stay at home, muttering something about it ‘only encouraging weird activity,’ but he was always interested in what had happened at the meetings, of course. He was, I believe, quite right. It did encourage the strange, ghostly activity that was going on in our house at that time, and it also made me more open to strange phenomena.

Attending a spiritualist church as a teenage boy was interesting in and of itself. The first thing I noticed was that the vast majority of my fellow visitors were female and well over the age of fifty. However, by contrast, the mediums were often younger people. That evening, it was quite a full audience for the demonstration as the medium was highly regarded, and he apparently attracted a more diverse audience. He was two or three readings into the evening when his eyes met mine.

“Young man,” he said.

I gulped and likely flushed, as all eyes suddenly stared at me.

“I have a man here with me in spirit who would like to warn you about that motorbike that you have. He is showing me that you will have an accident, so be careful. He is young, this man, and he is wearing motorcycle gear. He passed some time ago, though,” said the medium.

To be honest, I could barely speak. I just nodded acknowledgement, and the medium duly moved on to his next ‘victim.’

Of course, I was consumed with my own thoughts for the rest of the demonstration. We thought that the young man could have been my dad’s brother who had died long before I was born in a motorcycle accident; and yes, I had just recently bought a second-hand Honda C70 motorbike.

At the end of the meeting, both the medium and the organizer approached my mother and me. The organizer knew us and lived in the same area that we did. It transpired that the medium wanted to spend some time with me. He said that he had some things he wanted to tell me, and so, could I come by the next day around 2 p.m. for some tea?

We went home and told my dad what had occurred. He was understandably a little upset at the idea of his brother coming through, but he agreed that I should go for the tea and see what the medium had to say.

 

Seance

 

The next day was actually very disappointing at the time. I had fostered this idea that somehow the medium would tell me something really important, meaningful and deep. In fact, we simply sat in the backyard drinking tea and eating cakes, just chit chatting for about an hour or so. After that, the organizer suggested I should leave so as not to tire the medium, who would be giving another session later that day.

As I was about to leave, however, the medium looked at me and said, “Do you write at all, Gary?”

“Not much. Why?

“Well, I just wanted to say that you will one day write a lot.”

“Okay, thank you,” I replied.

“One more thing, Gary.”

“Yes?”

“Be open.”

“I’m sorry?” I asked, somewhat puzzled.

“Be open to spirit. They will write through you. Don’t be afraid. It will feel quite natural. It may not happen for many years yet, but it will, and I think that you might just sit from time to time with a pen in hand and a bit of paper and see if it happens.”

“Thank you,” I said again, feeling a bitter sense of disappointment. Was that all?

Apparently, the medium put on an uncharacteristically poor showing later that evening. He was tired from meeting with me, he had claimed. I didn’t understand why that should be so, nor really why he wanted to meet with me. At the time, I didn’t believe that he had told me anything very much of value at all.

About six months later, I visited the University of Hull. They had an open day for prospective students. I was seventeen and looking forward to going to university, so I went. Driving back home on my motorbike, as I accelerated away from some traffic lights, I suddenly saw a blur jump out in front of me. I braked as hard as I could, but I hit whatever it was. I heard the yelp of agony as I did so, and then I found myself sliding along the street at about 30 mph, until the handlebar hit a pothole and threw me away, gashing a hole in my knee as I went. The bike was messed up, I was okay (although bruised and bleeding), and the poor dog was dead. I felt bad. I felt terribly guilty for killing a dog. I also felt very fortunate that the light had turned red behind me, and I wasn’t run over by a car.

I remembered the medium then—what he had said in the message—and I understood that this was a sign.

Now, I do indeed write. I write a lot. And the spirits? Well, they do come through. As the boy in the movie said, I see dead people.

This story and others like it in My Haunted Life Too. Out Now!

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Book Sales Dynamics

It’s been an interesting couple of months as sales of my books have moved up a notch. However, what I find interesting is how on any day,my books do well in the US or the UK but not both. There really is a pattern to this. One day, like yesterday, I sold 8 kindle books – all but one from the uk site of Amazon. The day before it was 5 Kindle books and all in the US .com site. Is this a function of how Amazon reports sales or is this real? If it’s real, why?

The My Haunted Life book has been doing well selling 2-4 copies a day for about 6-weeks now and I have given away around about 120 free copies too. My Haunted Life Too is just out and its too early to say but it seems to be selling too…. But since the first My Haunted Life came out, I have seen all of my books start to sell more – great news really. The Last Observer has been the chief beneficiary but even some of the poetry books are selling too.

There is a long way to go before I can say I am doing well on the author front as you really have to be selling multiple tens of books a day to get there but I am encouraged….

Meanwhile, just to knock my own smile off of my face, I found a best selling Kindle book the other day that My Haunted Life competes with. It was #1 on the supernatural list at Amazon so it is outselling my books by a factor of 2 to 3. I downloaded the sample of this book which according to Amazon, has the equivalent of 14 pages yet sells (in quantity) at $2.99. The title was something like How to Train to be a Witch. I opened the sample…. terrible grammar, mis spellings everywhere but here was the best bit. The book said if you want to train as a witch then go google ‘train as a witch’ and read the books you find using that search term!!!!

Wow. I would never have thought of that.

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My Haunted Life Too is OUT

I know that by now, you have all rushed over to your respective Amazon sites and procured your Kindle copy of My Haunted Life Too right? No? Why not? Out today!! Scare yourself to sleep for just 99 cents with My Haunted Life Too on Kindle!

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Get it here.

While you are there, don’t forget to download my poetry collection – Moon Whispers – for free and grab your copy of My Haunted Life – the original in the series….

Moon whispers

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