The Dandelion Clock

 

This superb tale by Rebecca Bryn takes the reader beyond the Earl Haig Fund, and the sale of poppies and badges—it truly highlights some reasons for Remembrance.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is one of two good causes receiving the royalties from sales.

Story Description by Rebecca Bryn

Click graphic for details

The Dandelion Clock is a story of young lovers torn apart by war. While Bill fights in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Palestine and endures the hardships and tragedies of war with his beloved horse, Copper, Florrie fights her own war at home in England and dreams of marriage to Bill.

Florrie’s widowed father is an abusive and violent drunkard, and she is bringing up her six siblings as best she can with rationing, poverty, and the loss of her menfolk – a mirror of my grandmother’s young life.

In times of self-doubt, Florrie turns to her dandelion clocks, ‘He lives; he lives not – he loves me; he loves me not.’ Can Bill survive to keep his promise to Florrie to marry her, and can he bring his old warhorse home safe? Will Bill and Florrie’s love survive five years apart?

 

The Inspiration for this story, by Rebecca Bryn – the author

The Dandelion Clock was inspired by some old photos I found when moving house. My grandparents, Bill and Florrie were a huge influence on my young life and the photos brought back both happy and sad memories. Here was Grandad mounted on his beloved horse—a horse that took him to Egypt and Palestine during the First World War and carried him into battle. His love of horses was something I inherited and which dominated my life for many years, so it was natural, when I began to tell Bill’s story, that his horse would play as important a part as his sweetheart, Florrie.

Researching and writing The Dandelion Clock opened my eyes to the sacrifices my grandparents and those of their generation made. It opened my eyes to the suffering and the hardships endured by both man and horse in the scorching heat of a waterless desert, and the freezing snow of Gallipoli.

The author’s grandfather

“I marched with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars across the salt flat before Chocolate Hill with no cover and Turkish guns on the hills around them picking them off like shooting fish in a barrel. I watched men and horses die of heat exhaustion in the Sinai Desert and learnt to stab, twist, and pull a bayonet. I watched the light go out of the eyes of men I had no cause to hate for a war I didn’t understand, and I came home to a country I barely recognised with wounded men begging on the streets, poverty, and few jobs, and wondered what I’d fought for.”

War changes people, as it changed my grandfather. The effects are far-reaching, far beyond the 40,000,000 casualties, of whom 20,000,000 of these died, and 11,000,000 of the dead were civilians. That leaves some 9,000,000 military deaths – young men, some volunteers but mostly conscripted who downed tools and marched to war never to return. The Dandelion Clock seeks to honour the men and horses of the Great War and the women who waited at home ‘keeping the home fires burning’ through rationing, poverty, and loss of their menfolk.

Royalties go to two charities:

ABF The Soldiers Charity

I felt the need to honour the courage of the soldiers of The Great War in some more charitable way, so I asked around some ex-military friends and was recommended a charity that supports both serving and veteran soldiers and their families. Half the royalties from pre-orders and sales of The Dandelion Clock up to Remembrance Day Centenary on November 11th 2018 will be donated to ABF The Soldiers Charity, a charity that supports soldiers, military widows, and their families through their darkest times. Their youngest beneficiary is 2-years-old and their oldest 106-years-old. With so many wounded men, some suffering shellshock, and many bereaved families, this is a charity that would have been greatly appreciated in 1918.

A hand up, not a hand out – “In 1944, around 3 million British soldiers were at war, notably in France, Italy and Burma, but with the end in sight, the Army Board realised that the State would not be able to provide for all the needs of those who would soon return to civilian life. The Army Benevolent Fund came into being on 15th August 1944. The “Fund for the Soldier” is, as The Times said, “an object none can question” because the soldier is what it is all about. In its first year, the Charity was ‘pump-primed’ with the huge sum of £1.5m from the NAAFI’s profits, enabling the Charity to make much-needed grants. – ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has a well-established and substantial grants programme of support to charities and organisations that provide lifetime support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families. We will normally fund up to 100 charities in a given year which deliver support on behalf of the Army and ourselves.”

Brooke

The other half of my royalties will go to Brooke. It wasn’t until I reached the part in my story where I sought a way to bring Bill’s horse, Copper home, that I discovered the horrific end many of the faithful and courageous warhorses suffered. The Brooke is a charity that now rescues horses, mules, and donkeys in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Every horse remembered – “On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke was determined to find the surviving ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces. These brave and noble horses were sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo when the conflict ended.

Searching for them throughout Cairo, Dorothy was appalled to find hundreds of emaciated and worn-out animals desperately in need of help. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (which later became the Daily Telegraph) exposing their plight.

The public were so moved they sent her the equivalent of £20,000 in today’s money to help end the suffering of these once proud horses.

Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased five thousand ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down. But thanks to her compassion, they ended their lives peacefully.

Dorothy Brooke knew thousands of hard-working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered so in 1934 she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys. The Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.”

I also donate money to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum each year from sales of Touching the Wire – a story of the women of Auschwitz – to honour the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Go to https://www.ushmm.org to help further Holocaust education.

It feels wrong to make money from the suffering of others, but in relating their stories, I hope to keep their memories alive, and donating is one way I can give something back to charities that would have been close to their hearts.

About the Author

 

Originally from Kettering, in Northamptonshire, Rebecca Bryn lives in West Wales with her husband and dog where she paints the fabulous coastal scenery and writes historical, mystery, and post-apocalyptic tales with a twist. She believes you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins and to date has a 100% success rate at surviving. :

 

 

My personal view of the story

Try if you will, to go without food for a day, or a decent hot drink, or sleep … having worn the same clothes for days on end in a range of temperatures. What could be worse? Place yourself in adverse conditions and introduce a few ground-shaking bombs and an enemy firing at you.

Have you considered the ability to clean and service your rifle and equipment?

How about aiming and firing back at the enemy from a water-filled, muddy trench.

Combine these things with the remorseless ‘duty-bound’ attitude of your leadership—now you have a tiny vision of life in The Great War.

Be rewarded for playing your part

If you’d like to help Rebecca support these charities and get a wonderful book to read, you can pre-order The Dandelion Clock. The eBook is currently available on pre-order at the special price of 99p/99c until September 4th. On release, September 5th it will be priced at £1.99/$2.99.

This book is also available in paperback.

Contact Rebecca Bryn:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/rebeccabryn

Bookbub page: – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-bryn-5527e97a-146a-49e7-95c7-a30b0f603c80

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorshow/8434030.RebeccaBryn

Website: – https://rebeccabrynblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/jandrcoulson

Google +: https://plus.google.com/+RebeccaBryn

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmjL99ImZV_TdNpDaOxiVOw

And : http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

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Introducing – A Life of Choice

 

Part celebration of an anniversary, and part promotion of my longest running project.

It was 7th November 1969, on my 17th birthday, when I signed ‘on the dotted line’ and joined the British Army. On that momentous day 48 years ago I left the family home in Glasgow, Scotland. I took a train for my first journey to England. I wasn’t sure if I’d be gone for a week, a month, or a bit longer. As it turned out, it was a bit longer …

 

Not in my wildest dreams could I have envisaged the next stage of my life. Within the story are: violence, sex, alcoholism, humour, drugs, bullying, armed conflict and a lot more besides. Having since built a collection of books on modern warfare penned by the men and women who lived through it I have altered my tale of life in uniform in two ways.

First, I felt a greater freedom to expand on certain topics by making the work fact-based fiction.  I also wanted to focus on the humorous outlook of the average serving soldier and his progression – or lack of it. My view of soldiering is told through the eyes of a fictional character.

Secondly, I do not call this an autobiography; it is a five-part novel.

I have written a tale I’ve researched in considerable depth. The interesting ingredients are still there and in the same measure but with a more light-hearted view.

I sincerely hope it leaves a sense of intrigue and not frustration in the mind of the reader to ponder whether some events actually took place or are fictitious. The story is told from the point of view of a variety of ranks, and not all by a Private soldier, but if you choose to read this tale, you’ll see how I’ve achieved varying points of view.

 

If you should decide to take this journey I would ask that you read the books in sequence. Should you read my efforts please leave a review. My intention is to entertain and I’d like to know if I’ve achieved my aim.

 

The initial covers have been designed and produced by me. If you are not ex-military and you’re wondering what the three background colours indicate – they are the ‘Corps colours’ of the Royal Corps of Signals. There is a brief explanation within the story. I’ve used graphics and sub-titles appropriate to the stages of the journey.

Clickng on any cover takes you to the book’s individual page and the links to preview/buy. Clicking on the ‘series’ picture below will take you to the Anthologies page of my author website.

 

As 2017 draws to a close I am in touch with Aimee at Author Design Studio to arrange professionally-designed covers for the series. Next year I’ll be investigating the idea of producing the series in papaerback. There are many people who enjoy reading, but are not fans of eReading devices.

Many thanks for taking an interest in my work,

Tom

P.S. For those who like detail, the bio picture in this post was taken yesterday – 6th November 2017.

A Time for Courage: and other military stories

A Time for Courage - 2Now available!

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I’m delighted to report the publication of my fourth anthology of short stories. The primary theme is of course military, but as suggested in the title, ‘courage’ is the underlying feature of this collection.

In some cases how the character deals with adversity is fairly obvious, but in other tales the conflict and solution is more subtle.

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Here I have created 12 stories using a wide spectrum of scenarios. Military experiences can be funny, heart-breaking and, everything in between.

This anthology is a blend of my personal experience and knowledge, together with specially created pieces to highlight the peaks and troughs of service life.

These tales can be enjoyed equally by those who have served and, those who have never donned a uniform.

Humour, fact, fiction, and fantasy are used to portray service in theatres as varied as Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Ancient Briton, the Persian Gulf, Africa, and elsewhere.

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Amazon – Universal (Preview / Buy)

Booklinker (if unable to download from Amazon)

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As any sensible and serious indie author will do, I requested beta readers to cast a critical eye over these stories. Notwithstanding the fact one of the stories was a competition winner, I needed the confidence of more than one set of eyes checking my work. To this end, every story has been seen by at least two beta readers, and in some cases I stretched this to four beta readers.

I would now like to say a public thank you to Martin Ashworth, an ex-colleague from my latter days in the military.

My other readers are all members of the fine Indie Author Support and Discussion group:

Sharon Brownlie, Lucinda E Clarke, Barbara Doran-Rogel, Sylva Fae, Pam Kesterson, Robert Lalonde, Eric Lahti, Penny Luker, Julia Lund, Ian D Moore, and Andy Updegrove

Many thanks guys, one and all. I may not have used every suggestion, but I considered every one, and used a lot of them. Without your help I doubt if I’d have the same confidence in the end product.

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Making things Beta

A glance at my Work in Progress will give some idea of my intended output for the next few months. I enjoy variety in my writing as I do in my reading, so apart from working on novels this year – I aim to produce two anthologies.

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A Time for Courage - 1My next anthology of short stories is due for publication at end of March 2016.

I’ve already adjusted the font, and the angle of the plane on the cover for about the fifth time, but I believe the latest version does the job.

A Time for Courage is a collection of 12 stories. There are two which appear in other collections, but they deserve to be included here.

As always I strive to produce a varied selection, even when adhering to a theme, and I’ve worked to develop these stories in each successive draft.

I’m now looking for volunteers to sample the collection. Ideally, I’d like readers to try at least two stories each, but if you’d like to experience variety I can supply a surprise third story based on your two choices.

If I’m fortunate enough to have more than one reader for any of the stories, it will only be a good thing for the final product.

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What do readers need to know?

Photographic Memory* and Duty Bound* are the two tales which are appear elsewhere, so they don’t require beta reading, but I’ll be happy to send them on if somebody particularly wanted to see them.

I tend to set myself a maximum word target of 3,500 for short stories, but in this list I have one tale which is 4,000 words. There are two which are under 1,000 words.

If you would like to sample any of these and provide me with feedback, please get in touch via email, Facebook, or use a comment here. You don’t have to use the title of the story, (or stories) – the number, (or numbers) will be sufficient.

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1. A Time for Courage
2. Users Guide: Soldier
3. Thanks Dad
4. *Photographic Memory
5. Special Forces ?
6. The Odd Couple
7. Walking Wounded
8. Brothers in Arms
9. *Duty Bound
10. Roamin’ Soldier
11. Blood Brothers
12. The After Life

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I’m presently editing a novel for a fellow writer, so I will allocate time in mid-month to revisit this collection for final amendments.

Thank you as always for reading and leaving a comment.

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Why is it good to try writing poetry? Part 3

RT1-Tangmerewing[1]In Part 1, I suggested looking at the idea of writing a simple three verse poem as the basis and precursor to a story.

 

In Part 2, I added three more verses and it gave the story a little more foundation.

In this post, I’ll look at the main ingredients needed to write a short story. The other aspect of this, is of course to use the simple poem as a guide for the story’s plot.

I’ve got the basic story in poetic form, but I know even before writing the prose, the story may well alter from the one I started out with. That’s not an issue to be concerned about, because the main purposes of the poem were: to provide an outlet for an idea, and to form a basic structure.

What else do we need to consider?

1.  A decent title, but that is best left until after the story is written.

2.  A hook in the intro. A good intro will start with dialogue or action. I usually aim to start with action, a point of crisis I create within the first 30 words.

3.  If it’s a short story, we should keep the timescale short. It should be set over hours or days; not weeks or longer.

4. In line with the short timescale we should have a single plot line, no deviation or sub-plots to distract the reader.

5.  We are aiming to place a normal person in extraordinary circumstances and then make them react. We can also consider giving the main character an issue to deal with, which changes them in some way by the end of the story. There should be some progression.

6.  We should aim to keep the character count low; four or less if possible. Keep it intimate.

7.  Just as we should aim to have a ‘hook’ at the start to capture our reader, we should provide some back story to say how the character or characters got in the position they find themselves. Again, not too much information.

8.  As well as a good start with the hook, and back story, we must know how and when to stop. When the tale is told; stop. No extra bits and pieces. On occasion one more line might work, but mainly; reach the end and stop. Make sure the main character has resolved the conflict or crisis.

9. Try to use the senses when writing. Through good imagery, let the reader see, feel, smell, hear, what is going on. No flowery descriptions though; keep it brief.

10. Try to keep dialogue natural. How? Short and sharp exchanges are the most natural.

With all that in mind, and the poem, I’ve already written a few short passages. In my next post, I’ll produce a list of new titles that I’ve come up with to replace the working title.

I’ve imposed a target on myself of no more than 1500 words. That will stop me from waffling on, and it will keep the story tight. If you haven’t been given a word count target – impose one.

Once again, thank you for following. See you next time.

 

 

Rhyme and Reason

I may be close to my 620th poem in three years but I don’t consider myself a poet.  I would prefer to be thought of as a writer who dabbles in verse.

Whilst this year was in it’s infancy I had three short stories, a monologue and a poem entered in competitions.  I made a vague promise to myself that I would cut back to no more than two poems per week.  Storytelling I decided, was to take precedence. 

It’s not yet the end of February and I’ve already written 26 poems this year.  Before I’m judged too harshly please consider the content of my verse.  Since January alone there has been; medieval conflict (a series of 7), vengeance of a marooned sailor, assassins, New York, romance and a couple of collaborations about passion. 

The thing I do enjoy about poetry is that I can relate a story idea rapidly and the thought process used in rhyming actually forces me to work harder with the plot.  Why is that a good thing?  For the main part because it is a simple framework to expand later into a short story.  My latest theory is to try to open with action, as I would with a conventional piece of prose.