Friday, 18 October 2019

Books, books, glorious books.

Hello Everyone,

Well, it's Tuesday again and I'm pondering over my next post. I'm looking out of my window at what was once a beautiful quiet cul-de-sac but has now been transformed into what appears to be normal in the whole of the UK... a car park! Just counted ten vehicles in an area which only safely accommodates five. However, if I look up I can still trees with leaves changing colour from green to beautiful orange and brown indicating autumn days are upon us. Time to sit down and snuggle up by the fire with a good book. Yes, it is time for me to shamelessly peddle my wares again. This week I'm talking of my first three books and next week I will bring you the Sofia trilogy.

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For those of you who ask the question, How long does it take to write a book? It took 3 years to write Time & Tide, my first published book. It was designed with the Millennium in mind. At that time there was much euphoria about the 'good old days' and all that had happened in the twentieth century and I thought it would be a good idea to take a character born on January 1st 1950 who would be celebrating her 50th birthday at the Millennium and create a family saga around her and those 50 years. I created the Stephenson family with Irene Joy born in 1950 and named Irene because the name means 'peace' in Greek. She was a symbol of hope for the future after the first part of the century had seen two World Wars. In addition to the narrative I gave Irene's mother the role of writing a diary but not just a personal one, one which included the social and historical events throughout the 50 years and it interspersed throughout the book in italics. 

I will share the synopsis with you.
'TIME AND TIDE' tells the story of Irene Joy Stephenson, born on January 1 1950. The Prologue sets the scene for her fiftieth birthday; chapter one goes back in time to her birth. She realizes that life is cruel at an early age when her mother attempts suicide and her brother dies on his first birthday. When she is ten the family move from a Nottinghamshire village to a country estate, owned by Lord Fordingham, where her father takes up the post of Estate Manager. She, and the gardener's son, Daniel become childhood sweethearts. They plan their future together; they both pass the 11+ examination and take up places at the local Grammar School. They are inseparable until he is killed in a car accident. She returns to school as a sixth-former, takes the 'A' level exams and then attends the local College of Education. In her final year she meets Philip White. They qualify as teachers and marry in 1972 before taking up posts in Birmingham. On her wedding night she realizes that it has all been a mistake. She does not love him but was infatuated by his similarity to Daniel. They drift apart; he has an affair with a sixth-former from his school. He and Irene divorce and he leaves the area with his pregnant girlfriend in disgrace. Irene is left devastated and alone again. Her Head of Department helps her pick up the pieces of her broken life. Their relationship develops; they marry and are happy but it is short lived. He has a tragic accident before he finds out he is to be a father. Irene returns to her parents at Fordingham and gives birth to a son who only lives for a few months. The local vicar tries to help her through the trauma. She becomes involved in the Church and eventually marries him. As the vicar's wife she feels that she has found her true vocation in life. In 1993 the Rev. Alistair Duncan finds that he cannot come to terms with female vicars. Priesthood for him is a male domain. His solution is to tell  the Bishop telling of his crisis of faith and his wish not to be found before disappearing. Irene spends the last years of the nineties just waiting for January 2000 when seven years after his desertion she will officially become a widow. She must carry on with her life in the new century because 'TIME AND TIDE' wait for no one'. Throughout the story, in the form of a diary written by Irene's mother, is a concise history of events, changes and discoveries during the second half of the twentieth century, possibly the most dynamic fifty years in our history.
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Now, for my SECOND published book, No Regrets.

This book was originally written during the six week summer holidays in 1987 when I was still teaching. The time taken to write a book is like the proverbial piece of string. It varies according to the author and the type of book. Writing must be about the only occupation where there is no set pattern for working. It was originally titled Innocent Victim and a diary of a divorced woman and teacher throughout the year of 1986. I was divorced, and teaching in the UK was not easy as the education system was undergoing radical change. I was thoroughly disillusioned with the entire system and wrote a rather dramatic line, 'one day someone will realise that education is about children'! Redeployment was everywhere and the majority of my colleagues seemed to be more concerned with their own careers and promotions than with the children. I was pleased with the end result and attempted to get it published in mainstream in the late 80's and 90's. I had got a lot to learn before moving on to self-publishing. After Time & Tide, I decided to retrieve the Innocent Victim manuscript and rewrite it. I published a slightly longer version as No Regrets in 2003. All the characters are fictitious and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is pure coincidence. Dear Joanna finds herself in constant turmoil, 'The absolute lay on the table...'. She was divorced and had suffered the humiliation of her husband leaving her for a younger model. Everything had changed and all that she had taken for granted as a married woman had disappeared. She was now alone and must face financial, emotional, sexual and all the problems that life after a failed marriage brings. Life beyond her sanctuary continues regardless of her feelings or situation; she becomes a prey for every man in creation since Adam and learns to use sex to her own advantage...

Or as my editor at that time, John Jenkins wrote for the blurb:


 “When we meet the heroine, 30-something Joanna, she is newly divorced and trying to rebuild her life. We share her innermost thoughts, as she realises that she has to come to terms with being an available single woman for any predatory male among her neighbours and at the school where she teaches, a hotbed of professional and sexual duplicity. How she reconciles her new role in life, copes and fails to cope with the challenges, results in a diary-based novel startling in its frankness. Marilyn L Rice brings acute observation to her story which moves along at a pace, fully involving the reader. Many will identify with the agonising decisions facing professional women. This is reality in today’s world.”   

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Now, for my THIRD published book, Stay in Touch

When I wrote this book I was proud to be able to say that I was an author and publisher of 'books' as opposed to just one book. With this book I confessed to being an absolute hoarder and justified never throwing anything away because it might come in useful one day. In the 1980's a friend suggested that I write a play for a competition and it was at a time when I had met up with an old school friend. We had been communicating by sending postcards, birthday cards and Christmas cards with scribbled notes for many years and promising to meet up but had never managed to find the time. At last, we were together in my home telling each other of marriages, divorces, and events throughout the fifteen years since leaving school.
It was this incident which inspired me to write a play set in the café on Sheffield station. Two friends meet and tell each other of their lives in a hurried hour and promise to Stay in Touch but of course they both know they will not! That's Life!
I was thinking about what to write next and looking through files when I discovered this forgotten play and asked many questions, What if? What if one is poor and one is rich? What if they both wanted what the other had? What if they would do whatever if takes to get it? What if they had set themselves goals to achieve in their childhood and decided to do them?
The Blurb, written by my editor John Jenkins

"Just what can drive a woman to murder? Or even three murders? Men. How can she become a serial killer, undetected and rich on the proceeds of her crimes? It all seems so simple for Christabelle after failed marriages to a homosexual and a bigamist. She confides only so much to her best friend as they recall their youthful wishes and dreams. If you have ever written down 50 things you intend to do before 30,40 or 50 you will understand and marvel at this black comedy.
Marilyn L Rice has written a story which races along with the pace of a thriller yet shrewdly observes the problems facing women today and a terrifying solution of how they can be overcome.
And when you have finished the book the story will stay long in your mind...whether you are a woman - or even more so if you are a man."

Time & Tide  and No Regrets are still available. For signed copies just send me a message! Stay in Touch is now out of print but copies may still be available on eBay or Amazon.

Have a great week!

Lady M xxx
                                                        



Friday, 11 October 2019

October!

Autumn leaves falling in the Sandwell Valley




Hello Everyone,

I know I can't believe it either! It's October and autumn or springtime again. Whichever, the shops are already preparing us for Halloween and Christmas. I believe America adds Thanksgiving to the commercial list.

October! An interesting month, particularly the origin. 'Octo' meaning 8, it was originally the eighth month of the year with November (Nov)  nine and December (Dec) ten. In 46 BC, Roman times, the New Year started in March. Julius Caesar, as Emperor of Rome, reorganised the calendar and made it start in January. He kept the old names apart from the seventh month which he named July after himself. The calendar became known as the Julian calendar. When Augustus was Emperor, he felt that he was as important as Julius and named August after himself.

Later, on 4th October 1582 Pope Gregory introduced the Gregorian calendar. He realised that the Julian calendar worked on the theory that a year lasted for 365 days and 6 hours, thus  Julius Caesar had introduced a leap year every four years. In reality, a year was only 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 46 seconds. As a result of this miscalculation, the world was more than a week out of place, so to correct it, in 1582 the day after October 4th was October 15th! Well, you have heard the saying, 'every second counts'!

Some other events in October throughout the years:
1853  The Crimean War began.
1889  The Moulin Rouge opened in Paris.
1536  William Tyndale, the man who wrote the English Bible, was executed.
1769  Captain Cook discovered New Zealand.
1085  St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice was consecrated.
1899  The Boer War began.
1915  Edith Cavell was executed by a firing squad.
1492  Columbus saw his first land in discovering the New World; he called it San Salvador.
1822  Brazil gained independence from Portugal.
1775  The US navy was founded.
1792  President Washington lay the foundation cornerstone of the White House.
1793  Marie Antoinette was executed.
1707  The First Parliament of Great Britain.

There's one thing which  interests me at the moment. Will October 2019 in future years have "Britain left the EU"?


You can't say my blogs are not informative or educational!

Happy October!






Have a great week,  Lady M




Friday, 4 October 2019

Psychic Awareness




Hello Everyone,

This week I would like to talk about something which is close to my heart but I can appreciate that for some it is just humbug. Well, most things in life are personal choices and I will not be offended if you fall into the latter group of peeps.

Are you a medium or do you have any spiritual awareness? Maybe, you are not even aware of the fact that you have this special gift. Personally, I have always had intuition, knowledge of good times ahead or presentiments of looming disaster although it is only in recent years I discovered that I am able to communicate with those who have passed over. It is a privilege and a comfort. It is also a skill which can be learned or improved on which is what I intend doing. 

It was after my father passed over that things changed for me. I knew he was trying to communicate with me and I made the brave decision to visit a professional medium and was amazed at what he told me simply by, as he put it, delving into my subconscious. Somehow, or from somewhere, after several visits to a medium I wrote the 'Sofia Trilogy', a mind, body and spirit trilogy. The story of Sofia who after visiting a medium in the hope of hearing good things realised that her days on this earth were numbered. She made big decisions based on her interpretation of the reading. What happened after her demise is even more fascinating. Some friends from the Spiritualist Church who have read the trilogy tell me that I am spot on with my writing on this subject. The books are available from the publishers at http://sbprabooks.com/MarilynLRice. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Spiritualist Church go to https://www.thespiritualist.org/


My father is frequently around and makes me aware of his presence in various ways. Usually, I detect the aroma of Woodbine cigarettes. Sometimes, it's footsteps or banging noises; he seems to like opening and closing the fridge door. Recently, I discovered the pendulum system of communicating with him. This has made it so much easier to ask him questions and receive a 'yes' or 'no' answer. It's extremely helpful and comforting. There are times when I feel closer to him now than when he was  alive. He has guided me through the years including leading me to the first medium. That man told me that my father would bring another man into my life. Two years later I was on holiday in Lanzarote when I met Bob. He had this special gift. We were the only two single people at the travel company's welcome meeting. We were brought together and after a few days he told me that at that meeting my father had spoken with him, "That's my girl, look after her." Cynics will no doubt say that during those few days I had probably given Bob a lot of information about myself and my life. Yes, I had but one thing I had never given him was my parents' names. I am from an era where referring to parents by their first names was almost a criminal offence. He had the correct information. For the last twenty-two years Bob has been my friend, soul mate and a medium for my father to communicate with me.

In August, he told me that he had terminal cancer. He would be going upstairs and waiting for me. I was devastated at the thought of losing him. In the last weeks I had a few final conversations with him. Two weeks ago I wanted to phone another friend, dialled the number and instead of hearing the voice I expected I heard Bob say, "Hello". At first I thought I'd pressed redial by accident. I redialed my friend who assured me that I had dialled her number but the phone just went dead when she picked it up. It was a while before I realised what had happened. Yes, those, who pass over or about to, do telephone to let us know they're going or have arrived home. I've since learned that he passed over just two days after that call.

Everything happens for a reason. In July, a friend from the Spiritualist Church set up a monthly event, Pauline's Psychic Lounge, "This event will be  created monthly to bring mediums, psychic, therapist and light-mined people together that are  interested in  spiritual growth. On the day there will be reflexology, reiki, psychic reading, mediumship and various stall  holders." I have been to the last three events and experienced Reiki and good readings including a confirmation of my friend's demise from aggressive cancer. In addition to this event Pauline has started Psychic Awareness event where you learn how to tune into this awareness and meet your spirit guides. Guess who one of my spirit guides is? Bob! he came through the week before he passed over while in the transitioning stage and told me he would never leave me. In my last conversation with him he confirmed what had happened at this session and told me he would be visiting me at another session but would not tell me when. I promised him that I would work on this special skill so that I can continue to communicate with him. If you are interested in becoming more aware visit https://www.facebook.com/showofhands.biz/ These events are held at Splinter Studios, Wednesbury WS10 7DF. Information may be found on Pauline Marshall's pages on FB. If you do not live in the West Midlands contact a local Spiritualist Church for info on such events or go to their services for messages from loved ones. It works! 

Remember, there are more things in heaven and earth...

Until next week, have a blast! Love Lady M xxx


                                           




Friday, 27 September 2019

All be safely gathered in. . .




Autumn in the Sandwell Valley
Hello Everyone,

I know it's hard to believe that it's late September and another year is slowly disappearing. The leaves are falling off the trees as autumn approaches here in the UK. After last week's memory of going to college I'm thinking about another autumn activity...harvest time. I've also cheated slightly and checked my archives only to discover that I posted this article about harvest on 27/09/2010; exactly 9 years ago. I guess it is time to share it with you again.

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 As a child I loved harvest festivals, in fact I still do. But in those dim and distant days I lived on a farm in the country and there seemed to be a warmth to the harvest celebrations even though they marked the end of summer and the beginning of what could often be a long, hard and very cold winter in bleak Derbyshire.

I enjoyed this morning's church service on what is now known as Harvest Sunday; a time to give thanks to God for the provisions He has given us. I particularly enjoyed the rousing chorus of We plough the fields and scatter. But now I live in an urban community; I looked round at the produce brought in - largely tins from the supermarket. It is so different from the days of my youth and even life today in rural communities where churches have actual produce from gardens and fields in abundance.

My grandfather and father were farmers and I remember my father's words, look after the land and the land will look after you!

A harvest festival is an annual celebration at the time of the main harvest in any given area. Because of the differences in climate and crops the times will differ around the world. Common factors are feasting with the foods that have come from the crops midst celebrations of thanksgiving with music, prayer and traditions.

In Britain harvest derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'harvest' or autumn. It later became known as the time for reaping and gathering grain and other home-grown produce. In by-gone days the Festival was celebrated at the beginning of the harvest Season on August 1st; it was called Lammas meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop and gave them to their local church for the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

By the 16th century things had changed and traditions became set around the gathering of the final harvest. These included a procession of reapers accompanying a fully-laden cart; a widespread distribution of a special cake to the celebrating farmworkers; a corn dolly being made from the last sheaf of corn harvested; the horse bringing in the last cart load being decorated with flowers and ribbons; the harvest feast or supper being held at the farmer's house.

Early English settlers took the idea of harvest thanksgiving to North America; the most famous one being held by the Pilgrims in 1621.

Just a little info on harvesting to brighten your week!


Thought for the week: A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6v7)


Love to you all, Lady M xxx


                                           










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Friday, 20 September 2019

Groundhog Day

Sandwell Valley...happy days!




Hello Everyone,

Yes, I know Groundhog Day is February 2nd and the day when if the groundhog emerges from its burrow and sees its shadow it will be an early spring. If it does not see the shadow another six weeks of winter are in store for all. The film Groundhog Day features this day as the day which is repeated every twenty-four hours. The unfortunate weather man sees this whole thing as doom and gloom but eventually accepts that he will have to go through this miserable day for all eternity.

If you could choose one day of your life as your Groundhog Day and know that each dawn would herald all the events of that day which one in your life would you choose? I choose September 17th, 1969. Many of you know that I write my blogs on a Tuesday and schedule them for the Friday. Today is 17th September, my Groundhog Day, and I'm happily remembering that day of fifty years ago.

Why that day? Although, I didn't realise it at the time it was the happiest day of my life. Wedding day? Graduation? The day I gave birth? First job? None of those. It was the day I left home for College.

Seven years earlier I had started at Grammar School with the intention of working for my 'O' and 'A' Levels. In those days education beyond fifteen was a privilege and many parents made sacrifices to enable their progeny to proceed into higher and further ed. I was happy and optimistic. It should have been plain sailing. Alas, I had no idea of the tragedy that was in store for me. I didn't know that I would miss a lot of school, in fact a complete term in one go, as a result of my femur slipping out of its socket. At that time placing pieces of steel in people was in its infancy and I was experiencing paralysis with very little hope of ever walking again. I guess, it's as a result of a good surgeon to whom I will always be thankful, plus pioneering surgery and good material made in the sixties that I am still walking today. However, such a disability closed many doors for me. Other issues developed during those years as a result of it and other things. Despite all the odds I managed to pass 'O' and 'A' level exams and gain a place at the Crewe College of Education which was a specialist teacher training college. I don't think they exist these days.

That morning was the beginning of a beautiful sunny, crisp, early autumn day. I remember the dew on the grass in the orchard next to our cottage. My father did the usual morning feed on the farm. My mother and I had packed the car ready. I had two cases in the boot, a weekend bag, train case and box on the back seat of our little red mini. Four years later, my father had to make four journeys to collect all of my possessions. We waited for father to come in for his breakfast before we left. I clearly remember saying goodbye to him but then while walking to the car I turned back, looked at him, and said, "Are you proud of me?" That is one of my most memorable moments with him. He nodded, smiled and said, "Yes". His glowing face spoke volumes.

We arrived at the College about 10.45 and went straight to my Hall of Residence. The Hall President, a second year student, met us and showed us to my room. By today's standards it was quite primitive but for 1969 it was one of the best. Many colleges had dormitories or students sharing rooms and all facilities were communal. This Hall was only two or three years old and built to accommodate the increasing number of students required to cope with the population increase as a result of the sixties baby boom. It was a single room with private wash-basin plus the best furniture and spacious. Kitchen and laundry facilities were communal. After unpacking we went down to the famous Crewe Station to use the photo booth. I needed pretty pics of me for such items as NSU card and meal card. Yes, all meals and accommodation were paid for by the Government unless you had really wealthy parents and then you would be expected to make a huge contribution. Everything was 'means' tested and parents made a contribution if they earned over a certain amount.

Next, we went up to the main town of Crewe, had a look round and lunch. My mother left about 2.30 and I watched others arrive. Early that evening we had a meeting and were told all about freshers week, college procedure and events before being taken over to the dining room for our first meal. That evening we were getting to know each other and our way around the place. It was so exciting. I could go through it all again and get the same pleasure from it. That College was flourishing then with 900+ students. I've heard that it closed in July 2019 due to falling numbers. Changing times!

So, that was my groundhog day. Which day is yours?

Love to you all on my fav day! Lady M xxxxxx

P.S. Why have I selected a pic that doesn't relate to the day? Simple. I don't have any so chose one of my other happy memories.





Friday, 13 September 2019

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH

                                             
                                                             
Is he thinking, 'It's Friday 13th.'?


Hello everyone,

Yes, I posted this seventeen months ago. I tend to repost it on Friday, 13th! What I find frightening is  I mentioned that if you feared this date or chose to stay in bed for the twenty-four hours there was only one more such date in 2018 and then you would be okay until September 2019. Now, it's September 2019 and I'm not sure what happened to those fifteen months.

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Anyway, according to our calendar, today is FRIDAY, 13TH APRIL. It is a day that many people fear; it's associated with tragedy, disaster and awful things. Well, if you are superstitious. Friday and the thirteenth are both considered unlucky and together means 'double' unlucky. It has its own name... friggatriaskaidekaphobia  after the Norse god FRIGG as Friday is named after him or in Greek, it's paraskeveidekatriaphobia. There are some who have a complete phobia relating to the number thirteen; this is triskaidekaphobia.

Where does this fear originate from? One theory is that it originated from the fact that Christ was crucified on a Friday and that there were thirteen at the Last Supper; this  derives from Christianity/Judaism. There is nothing else that is specific for this superstition. It may be that Christ was crucified on 13th, or 13th is associated with the Flood and Noah or Eve's temptation in the Garden of Eden was on 13th. None of these theories can be proven.

Leaving Christianity and Judaism aside there's also a possibility that it derives from Norse mythology where 12 gods were at the banquet in Valhalla. Loke, the demi-god of mischief was not invited but chose to attend bringing the number to 13. Also, in Ancient Egypt 13 was associated with death and the afterlife.

Some people will dispute all of these things as utter nonsense  because they have been lucky winning the Lottery on 13th. Euro Lottery does have two draws a week on Tuesday and Friday but aren't the odds of winning something like 70 million to 1? These odds mean that the majority of people who enter the draw on Friday 13th are going to be unlucky and LOSE money.

Are you a friggatriaskaidekaphobic? Will you be taking the day of work, changing your plans, refusing to fly or just staying in bed or the day? However, there is only ONE more Friday 13th's this year; it is in July. After that you are safe until  September 2019. So think positive, stay strong and have a happy 13th.

Lady M xxx
Just drink champagne all day!
                              
He's not worried about Friday 13th!








               

Friday, 6 September 2019

Smile more, frown less!



Hello Everyone,

It is September 2019. I am writing that just to remind me and everyone else who finds it difficult to keep up with the passing of time. In four months it will be 2020. No, I'm not sure where this year disappeared to either. Through August I have been looking at the archives and resurrecting some of those about places I've visited. I thought I would share one more with you and it is a personal one. It is where I can see my Millennium Promise. I hope you will find it helpful if you are having a difficult time at present. It is my trip to Coalbrookdale and the Museum of Iron first published on 31/07/2015.

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Hello Everyone!

I hope you have all had a great week. It's the last day of July; August tomorrow!

If you are thinking of buying a gift please think of last week's blog 'A book is a gift for life'!

I've also been talking about  visiting places so near to home and appreciating history, archaeology and the heritage that lies on the doorstep wherever your doorstep happens to be.

Last week I ventured slightly further afield to Coalbrookdale and the Museum of Iron (32 miles distance according to Satnav). On the grass/picnic area are seats with the Millennium Promises. These are promises which people made at the Millennium knowing that they would be engraved on plaques and left for posterity. I like going and looking at mine. I smile and hope I've made many others smile when they've read it. You try it! The world will seem a much better place.






From Coalbrookdale I drove six miles down the road to Much Wenlock, a beautiful town with an olde world feel about it. It has narrow streets and old buildings like the Guildhall. The yellow lines and car parks bring it into the 21st century otherwise one could stand and visualise the horse and carriages coming through the town.

The Guildhall



The first place I visited was the Guildhall. Upstairs is the ancient courtroom which was still active as a court of law until 1985. The open space below was used as a corn market.


The beam opposite the Mayor's chair
  The beam (left pic!) has a Latin inscription which translates as 'Give right judgement and exercise mercy'.
The Mayor's chair

A reminder of punishment ... The Stocks



Next, I visited the church before going to the Priory ruins. Some pics! For more information on the Priory which is now an English Heritage site visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wenlock-priory/ 

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After the Priory? Afternoon tea in one of the picturesque tearooms. Then a quick wander round the shops before driving home feeling happy and relaxed.



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Until next week be happy, smile more and frown less!   Lady M 😊😍😎