Ashlyn’s Journey and Victory

Last week was our final school prize giving. I admit it – I might have wiped away a stray tear or two, especially in the first part of the evening which takes place in the classroom. Here, each child receives a ‘character award’. Being a Christian school, this is an area valued as much—if not more than—the academic side. I like that in a school. A lot.

Then it was into the hall, packed with high school students, teachers and parents, to honour the academic and sports achievements of the learners. And there something remarkable happened. Ashlyn was awarded a silver academics badge and then went on to win two subject trophies (Computer Applications Technology and IT).

My youngest daughter, whose schooling—and childhood—has been marked by a struggle with mental health issues including Asperger’s, anxiety and depression marched onto that stage, beaming proudly. This somewhat belied the ‘humility’ part of her earlier character award, but nobody was holding it against her. Most of the teachers there and many of her peers knew the long journey she’s been on.

Reflecting back on that moment, I realise that what I felt was far more than parental pride. That moment on the stage wasn’t just a great academic achievement. It was a victory. Continue reading

Nyla – the Inconvenient Heir

Nyla is not like the other characters I’ve created. That’s because Nyla—Queen of Tirragyl—created herself.
In Chains of Gwyndorr, I introduced you to a cast of characters. There was Shara, yearning to know more about her past, and prepared to go to dangerous lengths to discover it. There was Nicho, the lowborn Parashi, breaking the rules to empower his people. There was unloved Tessor, slinking around behind the stone walls of Lord Lucian’s manor, trying to discover a way to bring down her husband. There were many others and each of them had at least one thing in common: I, the book’s author, had created them.

But that’s not what happened with Nyla. Continue reading

Join my Book Launch Team for 3 Great Opportunities

On the 10th of October my fantasy book, Heirs of Tirragyl is launching into the world. A lot of work goes into a book launch promotion and I can’t do it on my own. That’s why I’m pulling together a LAUNCH TEAM that can help spread the word, and I’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

Each launch team member will be asked to make three commitments … and in return receives three benefits. Continue reading

Journeys – Banished

Based on Genesis 3

I walk in Eden. Dappled light paints shifting patterns on my legs and arms as my feet sink into a lush moss carpet. My steps unleash the scent of green growth; it mingles with the hints of lemon and spice lacing the air in this part of the garden. I stop a moment. Listen. How can I begin to describe Eden’s music? It’s the sigh of the wind, the chorus of birdsong, the buzz and snuffles and purrs of all the creatures in our care. It fills and thrills, inviting every voice, even my own, to join in the chorus. I do not sing today. I only listen. Yearning to hear, just one more time, another voice – His voice. Rumbling with laughter or humming an ancient tune or calling my name. Continue reading

Badgered by an Unwritten Book

My friend Gill (owner of the unreadable Taiwanese book) always claims a word or two for herself at the beginning of each year. Claims is perhaps the wrong term because she doesn’t choose the word per se; it’s more that the word impresses itself into her soul and then becomes a theme that weaves its way through her year.

I had two words that felt significant for me at the beginning of the year. I wrote about one in the Taiwanese book story, but I told almost nobody of the second word. Continue reading

Celebrating Mom and Dad – A 50 Year Tribute

Fifty years ago today, my parents got married in a small town in Holland. It was a genuine celebration. They were surrounded by their family and friends, some who came from distant places like the Isles of Scilly, where my father had spent so many childhood holidays. Both their families were in the flower trade and my grandfather had arranged for magnificent Proteas from South Africa to be flown in for the occasion. At the reception there were skits and songs—often depicting life in South Africa, where the young couple would head right after their honeymoon. The photos and slides that I’ve seen are all filled with much laughter and merriment.

So started my parents’ life together. Continue reading

Confessions of a Recovering Racist

In the last month I’ve listened to two sermons where the minister said, “I’m a recovering racist.”

The words were followed by an almost palpable, collective intake of breath. A small shock charge seemed to run through the congregation. I felt it in myself—a slight internal cringing. Should you be saying that? Here? In South Africa? In 2017? Two white ministers. One nearing retirement. One a young father. Both confessing a struggle with racism. Continue reading

Deeper (Lessons from a book I can’t read)

gardenMy friend Gill has a Taiwanese poetry book of which we can’t read a single word. Strangely, it’s become one of our most precious books. Every few months she brings it out at a gathering of friends and we slowly page through it, looking at the pictures. And something remarkable happens – almost every person finds a picture that speaks to them in some way, that shows something of where they find themselves in their lives at that moment. It’s not so much that we choose a picture; it feels a little more like the picture chooses us. Continue reading

Introducing…Tessor, the Forgotten one

tessor-hand

Let me introduce you to another character from Chains of Gwyndorr. She is –without doubt–one of the most interesting and here’s why…

Tessor, wife of Gwyndorr’s Lord Lucian, has been forgotten by the world. She lives in a neglected wing of the large manor house and moves  only in the hidden, dusty passages behind the walls, listening to the whispers of its inhabitants. Continue reading