Weathering the storm

A warm breeze moved lethargically through his study, barely flickering the candle on his desk. He lifted his stylus, contemplating his opening sentence.  It wasn’t so much how he worded his sentence, he brooded, more a case of how to weather the storm when Caesar received his letter.

Excellency, I would beg you to reconsider …

He thought of the Jews as his stylus scratched over the parchment, the scratching sounding unusually loud in the silence of his study. He hesitated before adding his signature …. Then he signed with a flourish …

*

The Senator’s Darkest Days is a tense historical thriller; a mixture of well-researched fact and fiction; a tale of conspiracy, intrigue and romance set against the brutally political world of ancient Rome and Jerusalem. But it is more than that. This is a story of hope, courage and winning through, despite the odds – and isn’t that what we all need right now?  

A thrilling sequel to ‘The Senator’s Assignment’           

Both books can be bought on Amazon.

Long forgotten memories

We were in the process of clearing out the loft in preparation for our house move when Colin gave a cry of delight. ‘Look what I’ve found!’ The item in question was a toy Dinky car – a faded green jaguar – rusted with age, with one wheel missing, a broken windscreen and a dead wasp sitting in the driving seat. Ugh!

Much to Colin’s – not the wasps – disgust I threw it in the ‘discard’ pile.

‘You can’t do that, Colin protested, and, reluctantly, I had to agree with him. We shall definitely be throwing out the picture we can’t stand but kept in case the person who gave it to us called unexpectedly, but we can’t possibly throw out Colin’s happy childhood memories of stretching out on the rug creating a traffic jam of cars. Or in fact, the memory now being formed of him nostalgically running his three wheeled jaguar – with wasp – down the rafters leaving me to get on with the packing.

Memories! We have so many of them. What a store of colour to add to our writing.

For my books: Web page : https://www.joanhiston.com

…And on the sixth day of overtime, God created …Mothers

God was on his 6th day of overtime, He was creating mothers.

‘You’re fiddling around a lot on this one?’ an angel commented.

God replied, ‘Have you seen the specifications for this order? She’s to have 6 pairs of hands, 18,000 moving parts, run on black coffee, and have a kiss that cures everything from broken legs to disappointing love affairs.’

‘No way!’

‘And the challenging bit,’ God said warming to his theme, ‘Is that she needs eyes to see through doors, eyes in the back of her head and eyes of love which can look at a child who has messed up and say, “I love you anyway.’

The angel said, ‘Lord, you look weary. Take a break.’

‘I can’t,’ God said. ‘I’m close to finishing a creation so very like myself. Already she can heal herself when she’s sick, feed a family on a pound of mince and get a 9-year-old to stand under a shower.’

The angel touched her. ‘She’s soft,’

‘But tough,’ God answered. ‘You can’t imagine what this mother can endure.’

‘Can it think?’ asked the angel.

‘Not only think but reason and compromise,’ God said proudly.

Running its finger down the mother’s cheek the angel said, It has a leak.’

‘That’s not a leak,’ God explained. ‘It’s a tear.’

‘What for?’

‘It’s for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness and pride in her off-spring.’

‘Lord, you’re a genius,’ said the angel.

And isn’t he just? 14th March – Mothering Sunday

Memory floodgates

Many of the characters in my novels are based on real people. Take for instance Vivius Marcianus; an austere Roman Senator, feared yet admired by many in Rome.

As a motherless child, he knew what it was like to be neglected, ignored and abused by a strict military father. Too scared of a whipping to cry, Vivius buried his emotions – until Caesar sent him on that awful assignment to investigate Pontius Pilate.

Sadly, and as frequently happens when reaching middling years, a simple incident strikes a chord and, for some unexplainable reason, those deeply buried memories come flooding back and begin to affect our decisions and the way we behave.   That’s what happened to Vivius.

So, when you read ‘The Senator’s Assignment’, you will forgive him I hope, when he behaves out of character at times. After all, he’s based on a real person.

Have events in your life dictated the way you behave?

Or, if you’re a writer, do your characters have a back story that affect the way they react to any given situation in your plot?

True or false

I was totally captivated by this quote, and then it began to dawn on me it was a clever parody.

It was the comment: ‘Her Majesty’s Men’ that awakened the old grey cells. ‘Her?’ I know that long curly hair, frills and fancy attire can be deceiving but then that was Charles the Second for you. Charles was King. The next queen wouldn’t be until William and Mary shared the throne 23 years later.

As for the Great Plague; London may have had a smattering of cases in 1664 but it didn’t swamp the city until 1665. 

Still, it was an entertaining piece and it hasn’t stopped it from spreading around social media like the great fire which swept through London a year later, 1666.

And if you can actually be bothered to read what Pepys did say, I found some of his comments rather comforting, his fears not unlike ours today, and even though he was dealing with a situation far worse than the one we are currently facing, his outlook remained compassionate and on the whole, positive.

Doesn’t it show how careful we must be as writers to check authenticity of quotes and facts before using them?

Name something good that happened to you in 2020.

The launch of my new book in March – the day of lockdown – and the cancellation of all my speaking engagements and book signings.

And that’s good news?

It is now.  Being forced on to social media reconnected me with old friends, initiated contact with groups of writers who share the same ups and downs as me, and introduced me to new friends.  Amazing how good things can come out of bad situations, isn’t it? Although I could do with a few more friends on my web site.

Name something good that happened to you in 2020?

Web pagehttps://joanhiston.com

The Senator’s Darkest Days:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=the+senators+darkest+days&crid=3TZ538YTPGPXN&sprefix=The+Senator%27s+Darkest+Days%2Caps%2C167&ref=nb

Jigsaws!

Every Christmas I pore over a jigsaw puzzle, religiously fitting the pieces together until I can stand back in satisfaction and admire the finished results.

And every Christmas I puzzle over why Jesus was born at the most troublesome period in history. Why then? The Romans had fought and plundered their way across three continents, demanding those under their rule acknowledge their superiority – which meant a very pregnant Mary had to trail all the way to Bethlehem to comply with a proud Caesar’s request for a census. Where did sending Jesus into that chaos fit in with … anything?

Jigsaws! It can be frustrating fitting the pieces together, can’t it? 

During my research for ‘The Senator’s Assignment’ I found my answer. It wasn’t a perfect time for Jesus to be born, but what the most powerful nation in the world did bring, was freedom to travel without passports – and miles and miles of open roads. Just what God needed when thirty odd years later, the story of Jesus was ready to be told.

The world is always in turmoil. But, if you put off doing something to wait for the perfect moment, it’ll never happen.

God bless you this Christmas – and what will you do in 2021?

You’ll never walk alone

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark.

Walk on through the wind.  Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone.

Vivius was a man who had always walked alone, his tormented childhood had forced him into that.

He was a man who thought he was strong enough to protect the wife he had chosen, the children he had given life to, and the harsh realities of a Rome filled with conspiracy and intrigue – and then he discovered he wasn’t.

For when he is wounded and imprisoned, it is left to his drunken brother-in-law Dorio, to rescue Vivius’s heavily pregnant wife and children and set about proving Vivius’s innocence for murder. This historical thriller reflects the dangerous political atmosphere in Rome and Jerusalem ten years after the crucifixion of Christ,’

This is a story of hope and courage – and isn’t that what we all need right now?         

We will remember them.

  This is a true story.

One night, an American B17 bomber, having dropped its bombs on a German industrial estate, was returning to its base on the English countryside, when the probing fingers of German searchlights picked up its silhouette. Within seconds, the powerful anti-aircraft batteries had opened up sending a barrage of shells towards the homebound plane. 

The first thud rocked the aircraft sending a sickening apprehension through the crew. On nights like this it wasn’t unknown for less than half the squadron to return.  More thuds, the plane trembled, and then one hit the fuselage. The young men clenched their teeth, waiting for the inevitable explosion. It never came.

The bomber made it back to base.  Mechanics and support staff swarmed on to the runway, and within minutes an engineer emerged from under the belly of the plane. He had found a dozen or more unexploded shells. The one lodged in the fuselage was carefully dismantled but to the amazement of the crew and engineers it contained no explosive charges. It was empty, except inside they found a piece of paper, hastily written and in Czechoslovakian.  It read: ‘This is all we can do for you for now.’

Somewhere in a Munitions factory in Germany, Czech slave labourers, who knew full well the penalty for sabotage, had, in an effort to help the Allies, made non-exploding shells.

It’s all about having the courage to persevere when the going gets rough, isn’t it?

It’s all about doing your bit – even if that means staying at home and co-operating with the rules and regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.

Setting sail

I wonder if Christopher Columbus had any idea that his name would become world-famous and that yesterday, October 12th, would become a national holiday because of his great achievements?

All he was doing was looking for a faster route to the Far East. But three months after setting sail across the Atlantic, as fate – or God – would have it, he ended up in the New World and the outcome introduced us to a new plants, animals and new cultures. 

It struck me that we never really know where our ventures will lead us.

After my book, ‘The Senator’s Darkest Days’ was completed in March, Andrew Chamberlain interviewed me for one of his podcasts.  Today, I received an e-mail from a discouraged writer in Kentucky, USA who was about to give us.  Then she listened to Andrew’s podcast.  Apparently, she was so encouraged by the questions and the transparency of answers on my writing journey that she decided to stick with it and she has asked for prayer.

Strange; but when Andrew asked me for an interview, I nearly turned him down – far too scared to set sail on a venture like that. In fact, I even felt like that when I started writing.

I wonder if Christopher Columbus felt the same when he set sail on his venture? After all, when you think about it, all you have to do is get on the boat and trust God to set the current in the right direction.

Find my podcast on:  https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/ajc-cwt-001/episodes/2020-01-09T16_00_00-08_00

Web site: https://www.joanhistonauthor.com