Thursday, 30 April 2015

I'll be talking about The Monk who Cast a Spell... on The Hollis Chapman Radio Show

I am very excited to have been invited to talk with Hollis Chapman on his internet Radio Show on 1st May @10.00am PST (17.00pm GMT)

We'll be discussing my debut novel, how I came to write it, what life is like for me as an Author and more...

I hope you will join Hollis and I, in what promises to be a lively and interesting discussion.

The Monk who Cast a Spell was published by Motivational Press on 16th March. It's available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and in other places Book link 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.


And I've updated this post so you can now listen to the Interview here.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Monk who Cast a Spell... at Beltane

Durstan, The Monk who Cast a Spell, falls in love with Ailan after their sexual awakening at Beltane in 794AD. They celebrate the ancient fertility rite with Brionach the Druid and others, in Chapter 9 of the book.

Durstan speaks of it later, "...that night was like nothing I had experienced before. The drumming and smell of herbs burning on the fire under the stars... Ailan haunts my dreams and every waking breath. I will never forget..."

The Church is still trying to convert the British Isles to Christianity in the 8th century, but people follow the Gods of their Ancestors, and are reluctant to take on another from across the seas whom they don't know. 

The traditional Gods are at their most powerful during Beltane. Abbot Faisal at the Iona Monastery has to turn a blind eye to what takes place that night, whilst Durstan's experience causes him to doubt his earlier beliefs, and helps create change in his life.

Traditionally, Beltane signifies the union of God and Goddess; man and woman; fertility and harvest. It's the season of maturing life and deep found love; a time of vows, hand fasting and commitment. The God and Goddess are stirred again by the forces in nature. 

The flowers and greenery we see at this time of year symbolise the Goddess, and the Maypole, the God.

Summer's passion returns to the world as 
the sun becomes stronger, and earth blossoms again. There's the hawthorn too! It was sacred to the ancient Celts, and is still considered magical by many; a protective influence, whilst its white flowers are always a pleasure to see in fields and gardens.

Beltane will soon be here for us when the Moon rises on 30th April, May Day eve. If you would like to read Durstan and Ailan's story, it's available now from

and in other places...

Happy Beltane! Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Monk who Cast a Spell and The Ifakara Bakery Project Charity

There's steps in every writer's journey, from the first word written to finding a voice, and being able then to finish the poem or story which comes truly from the heart. 

In my case it began with poetry, an occasional short story, and now a novel The Monk who Cast a Spell published by Motivational Press on 16th March. 

An important part of the journey was when I ran a writing competition in 2012 on behalf of the Ifakara Bakery Project Charity I published a Hope and Dreams Charity Anthology from winning and selected entries. All funds raised were sent to Ifakara to buy bread for the children.

Margaret and Eugene Schellenberg started the Charity in 2001 and built a bakery in Ifakara. They continue to raise £30,000 annually to fund the cost of 120,000 loaves of bread for the kindergartens, the hospital and leprosy centre, those with disabilities and many more. 

I was sad to learn recently that what has proved to be a highly successful venture is now under threat. The Sisters of St Francis bake between 400 and 900 loaves daily, and a local government department has said they will need to make alterations to the current site if they are to be allowed to continue. 

Many have come to regard the bread as a lifeline, so this is very serious news. If you can help in any way to raise funds for the cost of the building work, roof, windows and doors please let me know, or you can contact the Charity direct. 

I will be giving talks to local groups and, on radio, about the work being undertaken by the Charity; my writing too... 

I am working on a sequel to Durstan's story, which will be part 2 of the Iona Trilogy. I wanted to write historical fiction since I was a child, and some dreams can come true.

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog. I hope you have a great week. Don't give up your dreams! 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Monk who Cast a Spell is about Love

An important part of Durstan's religious belief is that love belongs to everyone. When the Monk falls in love with Ailan, he realises his life has to change. He can no longer endure the Abbot's harsh discipline or deprivation at the Iona Monastery, because there's no love in it.

It was not unusual in the 8th century British Isles for a 7 year old boy like Durstan to be taken from his family and left at a Monastery, or fostered with another family to promote an alliance between different warlords and Kings, but we all need love! 

Durstan begins to regard Roy the Blacksmith as a father figure, and is reunited later with his sister Mora, but it's Ailan to whom he has truly given his heart!

The Monk who Cast a Spell is the story of a young man's journey of the soul, and the eventual realisation that "it's the love between us that matters the most".

And from Ailan's part in the story, it also becomes apparent that we should not only be kind to others but ourselves too, for the world to be a much better place. 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog. The Monk who Cast a Spell is available from Amazon Barnes and Noble and in other places.

As it's Spring in the UK, I've filled this post with flowers. I hope you enjoy seeing them, and are having a great weekend.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Life for The Monk who Cast a Spell ~ on Iona in 794AD

Iona was an important religious centre in the 8th century, and a busy place. Monks ferried passengers between the mainland and the Holy Isle; used the Monastery's boats for trade, and traveled on pilgrimages further afield, or to convert others to Christianity. They were accomplished sailors and fishermen.

Below is a more recent version of the coracle, similar to the one Durstan and the Monks could have used. It's light enough for a man to carry on his back when he's away from the water.

Some of the men were farmers, who reared sheep and grew crops, as Durstan does. There were the craftsmen and artisans too; a blacksmith and others.

I began to see this as a world where there wasn't a great deal of love. Faisal, had become Abbot on the death of a relative, and not because of any vocation or humanitarian reason. He is motivated by power and greed; more concerned with the size of his coin chest than a Monk's soul. The punishments are severe, and so he maintains control. 

I read the Benedictine rules written in the 5th century. It seemed to me that men and boys could easily be deprived of all sensory pleasure if an Abbot followed these, and religious conviction, to the extreme. Monks and oblates shouldn't laugh or smile. There were prayers every night to interrupt sleep, celebacy too; little food, and fast days to follow. A way of breaking a man's spirit if placed in the hands of an Abbot such as Faisal!

The 8th century British Isles was a land ruled by Abbots, warlords, and powerful men who set themselves up as kings. There were wild animals in the forests, and those who had been cast out for violent behaviour, or whom circumstance had made desperate. If a Monk ran away he wouldn’t necessarily have a weapon to protect himself, and would only survive if he could find enough food, fresh water and shelter to do so. It would be difficult to get another Lord to take him on. The only redress lay then with a greater Churchman or King, but so many others would already be asking for their help. 

We have evidence that the Church tried to intervene, as St Aidan did in the 7th century at Lindisfarne, but this wasn't the case everywhere. Without a doubt, the quality of life in 794AD depended on having the right Abbot, Lord or King; also if you were free, and not enslaved, choosing a God or Gods whom you believed could offer you their protection. 

This was Durstan's world, until he met Ailan... 

and there's been another great 5***** star review on Amazon for The Monk who Cast a Spell: 

"A really enjoyable look into the life of a 17 year old Monk, around the time of the first Viking raids... Exciting moments... brutality, bravery and love. I hear there is to be another book to continue the saga - can't wait." 

If you would like to read Durstan's story please click Amazon

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog. I hope you are having a great Easter!