A new book cover?

This is for one that I’ve been calling “Stone circles on the tor” or “Dartmoor story”.  It’s actually science fiction, set in Victorian time, within the same universe as “Cynthia the Invincible.” I’m trying for a bit of a Victorian vibe with it.

Illegal Aliens XX

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.  The visitors found a mysterious note in what looks vaguely like Arabic, in a somewhat illegal search. Roland, in a mixture of embarrassment and pride read it (or at least its summary) last week. Another element from Roland’s past and a cat show up.  Last week we met Roland’s old post-doctoral supervisor. Roland continues translating (and the cat is back). The cavalry arrives this week, in the form of a DI who worked on Roland’s missing wife and child.


The last image provoked a derisive laugh, “Are you sure, Dr Welchmann, that you can’t read it … the passage is from the book of the dead, a blessing … I mean, it’s in the textbooks;  even your books.”

The doorbell interrupted the readings; the woman went to the door, and after a heated discussion at the door, reluctantly escorted someone in; the man she escorted said, “Ah, Roland, I see you’re entertaining the funnies … what happened?”

“Apparently they’re worried about that explosion in London; think I had something to do with it.”

The man studied the two people for MI6 and then asked Roland, “Did you lay gas lines in 1950, and not bother to put them on the map?”

“No.”

“Then it’s hard to see what you have to do with it; it wasn’t a bomb, it was a gas leak … small comfort to the injured, but nothing to do with,” he nodded at the MI6 agents, “that lot.”

“Thank you John; I’m sure you didn’t visit just to tell me that.”

“No, this is … official … about Janet and Thomas.”

“News,” Roland’s attention focused on him.

“Good and bad … something’s been found, but …”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

I’m getting a bit ahead but these images will be useful next week.

The Black Mountains of Wales are stark and beautiful. This picture shows the dense heather that covers their flat tops. Sugarloaf mountain is that peak to the right of the background.

Grwyne Fawr is on the other side of the mountain in this picture.

Illegal aliens is up for order on Amazon. In the end, the way to fix my mistakes was to issue a new edition. I still used kindle create but in a more native way to produce a “reflowable” book.

You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

You can find my, well our, works here.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

Illegal Aliens XIX

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Roland awoke after bringing an attractive young woman home, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.  The visitors found a mysterious note in what looks vaguely like Arabic, in a somewhat illegal search. Roland, in a mixture of embarrassment and pride read it (or at least its summary) last week. Another element from Roland’s past and a cat show up.  Last week we met Roland’s old post-doctoral supervisor. This week Roland continues translating (and the cat is back).


The man handed Roland his phone, there was an image, a scan of a fragment on it.

Roland started reading, darkness, despite the sunny morning, surrounded them and ‘his’ cat hissed; Roland stopped and the room lightened; the cat resumed her purr, “It’s a curse … not to be read aloud, at least not if you don’t mean it; it invokes Apep and Set among others … they’re the least obscure of the deities.”

“Who?”

“Apep, the God of Chaos and Evil, not to mention destruction; Set … basically the model for Satan the Bible, much as Osiris’s life and resurrection were models for Jesus or Mithras.”

“You don’t believe that tripe, do you?”

Roland shook his head, “No, not really, but it’s been such a strange last few days … I’d rather not tempt fate.”

He read further, silently; after looking at the wall for a moment, he turned to the agents and said, “It invokes them as protection; protection from something else; something far worse.”

The next image was spray-painted on a brick wall, “It’s from here, painted on the new biochemistry building, off Sherrington Road … keeps coming back, no matter what they do to clean it.”

“It’s a warning, about transgenic animals … bringing a curse from Bastet upon their efforts.”

His cat purred louder.


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

Illegal aliens is up for order on Amazon. In the end, the way to fix my mistakes was to issue a new edition. I still used kindle create but in a more native way to produce a “reflowable” book.

You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

I’ll be off exploring Exmoor next week. High open and wind-swept hills with unbelievable views (when it isn’t raining) and sea nearby (wet suits are a good idea if you want to actually bathe). Horses and horse-flies.

Horses on Exmoor Down

The ordnance survey maps show stone circles and other neat neolithic monuments. One has to be careful, however, the last time I was there I used the British Grid and a GPS to find one. It was literally a circle of small stones (about 2Kg each) in a field of heather. Unlike Stonehenge of Avebury, it wouldn’t have been a difficult feat of engineering.

You can find my, well our, works here.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is available for preorder. You can get the first part here.

Illegal Aliens XVIII

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Roland awoke after bringing an attractive young woman home, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.  The visitors found a mysterious note in what looks vaguely like Arabic, in a somewhat illegal search. Roland, in a mixture of embarrassment and pride read it (or at least its summary) last week. Another element from Roland’s past and a cat show up. The cat isn’t in today’s post, but hasn’t gone away (yet).


 

Roland sighed, Welchmann wasn’t his favourite person, not since that time when he was a post-doc and the professor had made a pass at Janet; more than a pass in fact, but the police hadn’t been very enthusiastic about pressing charges; not against an eminent and well-connected scholar when the charges were based on the word of a grubby post-doc and his wife.

He took the phone, “Yes,”

“Ah, Roland, I hear you’re reading Demotic now; quite fluently if you translated that – fairly obscure.”

“Yes.”

“Not a lot of call for that in Roman Britain, so I’d think.”

“You’d be surprised, besides I was thinking of a trip, need a change of scene.”

“No news about the lovely Janet … or your boy, whatshisname, then.”

“No.”

“Sorry, anyway there are a few cryptic inscriptions I’d like you to look at,”  Roland looked at his male guest; the man’s mobile buzzed and he jumped.  Welchmann continued, “I’ve sent them to our mutual acquaintance.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

It’s a little difficult to type them in wordpress, but you can get the appropriate fonts for hieroglyphics from psifer.com.  Hieroglyphic writing is an interesting mixture of more or less alphabetic approaches, combined with determinatives (shades of meaning) that make it something like a rebus. A reed might be the symbol for ‘i’ and a cup for “i’b” – but a cup could also mean that this word is an offering and not be part of the sound of the word at all. The Semetic people who developed the ancestor of our alphabet took the idea of pictures for sounds, but (fortunately) left the determinatives behind.

The hieroglyphs for Bastet (Bst) show how this works. The unsealed olive oil jar (Gardiner sign w2) is ‘Bs’ and the loaf of bread (it looks like a rising sun to me, but it’s a loaf) is ‘t’.  Sometimes you’ll see it with two ‘t’s to make it clear that it is bstt. The final sign is a determinative for a female god. Just for the heck of it the sealed olive oil jar (Gardiner sign w1) has a different sound.

Illegal aliens is up for order on Amazon. I tried using kindle creator on it to control dividers and formatting, and worked from a pdf file. The results are not as good as I’d hoped, but Amazon – in its wisdom won’t let me change it now that the kindle create program actually works from word files. It has, as usual, laid an egg.

You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

You can find my, well our, works here.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is available for preorder. You can get the first part here.

Illegal Aliens XVII

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Roland awoke after bringing an attractive young woman home, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.  The visitors found a mysterious note in what looks vaguely like Arabic, in a somewhat illegal search. Roland, in a mixture of embarrassment and pride read it (or at least its summary) last week. Another element from Roland’s past gets introduced this week.


A cat scratching at the outside door interrupted them;  the woman rose, “I’ll get it,” and let an animal in; a sleek, dark black animal, with glossy clean fur shot in and jumped into Roland’s lap; she, for it wasn’t a tom, purred; after inspecting the room as if she owned it, she turned and hissed at his two visitors.

“Did you own a cat … it’s not in your files, and I don’t see any cat dishes.”

“I guess I do now,” Roland stroked the cat, which had resumed purring and nuzzling him; he asked his uninvited guests “Are you done with me?”

The woman said, “Not yet;” then her mobile chittered away, playing ‘Rule Britannia’ as a ringtone.

“Not exactly subtle,” Roland said.

The man replied, “We’re not undercover.”

Roland and the man both listened to half of the conversation.

“So it really is Demotic.”

“A love note … that’s what he said too; read it to us.”

“No … it’s to Roland Stevens, he’s a lecturer at the local,” She handed the phone to Roland, “I’d sent a copy to our specialist, at Oxford. Professor Welchmann.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

Illegal aliens is up for order on Amazon. I tried using kindle creator on it to control dividers and formatting, and worked from a pdf file. The results are not as good as I’d hoped, but Amazon – in its wisdom won’t let me change it now that the kindle create program actually works from word files. It has, as usual, laid an egg.

You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

You can find my, well our, works here.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is available for preorder. You can get the first part here.

Illegal Aliens XVI

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Roland awoke after bringing an attractive young woman home, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.  The visitors found a mysterious note in what looks vaguely like Arabic last week, in a somewhat illegal search.


 

“It’s a note from my … I don’t know; she was here last night … it’s just I’ve never had a note left for me in Demotic before.”

She asked, “Can you translate it?”

“Am I a specialist in Roman Britain?”

The woman glared at him, “Yes; we know that already; the Romans didn’t use Demotic.”

“I’ve studied it in the last couple of years – to keep my mind off … Janet.”

The man demanded, “What does it say?”

Roland blushed, “It’s sort of personal.”

“Translate it, or we’ll take you in and hold you while someone else does it.”

“Oh … well … here goes,” He cleared his throat and started, “Dearest love, thank you for last night, it was wonderful. It was so good that I’ll have to sleep it off; by all the Gods, even if it risks his revenge, even Zeus wasn’t that good, nor Jason.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

Illegal aliens is up for preorder on Amazon.
You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

You can find my, well our, works here.

Since Roland is a specialist in Roman Britain, and it is memorial day, a bit about Roman Armour.

Reenactors in Lorica Segmentata

The Romans didn’t actually use the breastplate and Mohawk-like Greek helmet so beloved in epic movies. The lorica segmentata (segmented armour) was much more practical. It was lighter, easier to make, easier to repair (if you survived) and easier to adjust to a new soldier. The plates are basically flat steel that is bent and strapped together. The overlapping segments provide decent protection, especially with your scutum (shield) and in a disciplined cohort. These reenactors are carrying pila (pilums) which are lances designed to break off once they hit. (Later on they used a shorter lawn-dart like construction – a plumbata –  an individual could carry 5-6 of them.)  Not shown are the gladius (sword) or the pugio (dagger). This reenactor wears chain mail (lorica hamata), which was worn mostly by auxiliaries.

The featured image shows a reconstruction of a Draco – dragon standard – similar to what the legions in Britain would have used. That and a Welsh flag which bears a striking remembrance of it.

Illegal Aliens XV

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Roland awoke after bringing an attractive young woman home, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.

One of a somewhat menacing pair of visitors finished last week with “that is irrelevant.” Maybe for them.


The man pulled a warrant card from inside his jacket and showed it to him, “It’s better if you don’t know the details.” The card identified the bearer as an agent from MI6 and little else.

“For me or for you?”

“Very funny, Dr Stevens; may we come in?” Neither of them seemed to have much of a sense of humour.

“I suppose; not like I have much of a choice, is there; I need to shower; do you mind waiting?”

“Not at all.”

The man followed Roland upstairs and waited outside the bathroom while he showered. The woman used the time to search the downstairs rooms; she found a letter, written in an obscure script, one that looked suspiciously like Arabic or maybe Farsi, on the kitchen table; after sending a picture of it to the office, she pulled a chair from the breakfast table and sat. Satisfied with her efforts, she’d await the outcome.


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

Illegal aliens is up for preorder on Amazon.
You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

Bastet had an important role in Egyptian mythology. One of the several gods of evil, Apep, would attack the Sun God Ra in the evening. He or it would attempt to eat the sun and place the Earth in eternal darkness. (Though as a snake he’d freeze first, but then logic was never a strong part of mythology.) Bastet would routinely defeat Apep and slice his head from his body with a flint knife. Thus the sun would be available for the new day.

The featured image shows the asteroid Ida and her satellite Dactyl. 99942 Apophis or Apep (a synonym) was supposed to crash into Earth in 2029 or 2036, but NASA has shown that it won’t. This image is often labeled as Apep, but it isn’t.

You can find my, well our, works here.

Illegal Aliens XIV

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Last week Roland awoke, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.” A knock on the door interrupts their conversation just after Mr Shah explains that one of his workers couldn’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.


A loud knock on the front door interrupted their conversation; Roland said, “There’s someone at the door … I’ll need.”

“May the Gods smile on you, Dr Stevens. I think you’ll need them,” Mr Shah hung up.

Roland grabbed one of his wife’s old aprons and wrapped it around him in a semblance of decency; he hadn’t been able to face clearing them away; dressed, sort of, he answered the door.

A man and a woman, dressed in conservative suits, suits that signally failed to hide the bulges under their shoulders, waited outside.

“Yes?”

The man said, “Dr Stevens?”

“Yes, I am he.”

The woman added, “Good; may we talk to you?”

“Who are you?”

“That is irrelevant.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

Illegal aliens is up for preorder on Amazon.
You can get a copy of the first four chapters on instafreebie.

I was hunting for an image of the Goddess and found this. However, black and green eyed is more the way I imagined her. Bastet was not just some “piece of fluff.” It would have been terrifying to be occupied by her.

One of the duties of parenthood is encroaching on the weekend. We’re moving our youngest to his new digs at Auburn.
You can find my, well our, works here.

Illegal Aliens is alive

Maybe not well, but it’s up for preorder

You can get a copy of the first bit on instafreebie.

We (I had a fair bit of help from my collaborating author on this) used Amazon’s kindle create on this.

There are good things:

  • Fonts, images, and special formatting are preserved if you export to pdf first. So you can have drop characters for leading pages and pretty section dividers without a lot of bother.

Well, that’s about it.

It’s not too hard to use. Except it’s really hard to create a functional table of contents.

There are, however, bad things too. When you export to pdf it is tricky to save the links from the document – i.e. the table of contents.  Make sure you tell word to save the internal bookmarks.  Check that they’re there with a pdf reader. Then when you get to importing it into the kindle create you should see a table of contents entry. It will be blank, but as you page through the document you should see it light up (there’s a box that will get checked) when you get to a chapter break.  You’ll see whatever symbol you used for the internal bookmark displayed below that. If like my collaborator, you’re a computer scientist, it will be a hexadecimal number. Who in their right mind wants to see that? Replace it with the chapter title.

If you don’t have a functional table of contents you’ll get a well-documented  error at the end of the publication process. It will say, “an unexpected error occurred.” The amazon people don’t know what that means either. It took us a couple of days to figure that one out.

Illegal Aliens XIII

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation. This is the start of a new work, Illegal Aliens. It is something of a cross between a horror story, a science fiction tale, and a romance.

Last week Roland awoke, alone. Something of a surprise, and in some ways a shock. His mobile chirruped into life and the works manager – where he’d been called to examine a mysterious block of Roman concrete – told him the “bloody German bomb, it went.”


Mr Shah clicked his tongue, “Captain Carter examined the area before the blast – there wasn’t any bomb.”
“He must have missed it; that was Roman concrete, and you know as well as I do that the Romans didn’t even have gunpowder, let alone high explosives; what does he say about it?”
“Nothing; can’t; he caught it.”
“Oh … I’m sorry.”
“Well. Just a heads up mate; expect you’ll get a call;  they’re thorough bastards.”
“Who?”
“MI6  … there’s a chance it wasn’t a German bomb.”
“Shit.”
“All I can say is it’s a good thing I’m Indian, Hindu. They’ve already interviewed Na’el … gave it to him; put him through the ringer, poor lad; not that there’s anything he’d have to do with a bomb; can’t even stand the firecrackers on Guy Fawkes.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

One of the things I’m proud about this selection is that it brings to life the poly-cultural nature of the south of England. They, like the land of the free and home of the brave, have tensions between rural and homogenous urban regions (mostly Wales, the West and the Midlands) and the diverse urban areas (concentrated around London).  However, there is a reason curry is the national dish. The diversity brings a vibrancy to the country that is undeniable. The header image, which I stole from ITV, shows one of the bands in the Notting Hill carnival – Mardi Gras on Thames (except it’s not on Shrove Tuesday).

I had hoped to announce that pre-order was finally available, but Amazon is giving me “an unexpected error occurred try again later” error. Oh well.

You can find my, well our, works here.