Sergent/King

Just saw this outstanding and moving true story of a dog that didn’t have the best start in life…

Who I am

dog

Sergent lay gasping for air. His lungs filled with smoke. His nose was dry to the touch. Lying on his side, ribs digging into his soul he fights to make it. Refusing to give up what he is taught, to win.

To be patted on the head, have his belly rubbed. To get his favorite treats, to hear his master’s words of praise, this is what Sergent lived for.

Born on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio Sergent was one of six pups. Bottle fed and being the runt of the litter made his life a struggle from the moment of his first breath. Yet he thrived out of the entire littler. One other pup, who had been born first, died.

Thus, he was named Sergent because he was a born fighter and survivor. Handled with care and a gentle push to be the best he grew into a well-rounded happy…

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The No-Smoking Challenge: First Year Anniversary

Today marks the first year anniversary of giving up smoking.   Since that day a year ago, I haven’t smoked or tried a cigarette.  I hope this isn’t cheating, but I’m copying and pasting an earlier interview-style post I wrote a few weeks ago, as the weather is glorious today and I’m in a bit of a hurry.

 

Here goes:

July 24th will mark my first anniversary as a non-smoker.   As I said in a previous post, I smoked for more than two decades, often chain smoking in the evenings.  Just under a year ago, someone from  the surgery phoned me to arrange an annual asthma check, and during the conversation, they brought up the subject of quitting smoking.  At the time, I responded negatively, saying that I’d tried several times to give up but failed, usually on the third day.  However, within three weeks of that call, I’d quit.

Questions I get asked about not smoking:

Does it get easier? Yes, but the first year can be difficult.  Unfortunately, sudden urges to smoke can come out of the blue, even after months of not smoking.

What about just one cigarette every now and again?   A big temptation for many…if I just have one, I can quit again tomorrow. Unfortunately, the majority of ex-smoker who try just one will often try another and usually they end up smoking again.

Do certain things make the temptation to smoke worse?   Anything with caffeine, like tea and coffee.  Certainly, events that are emotionally stressful.

What about nicotine products like Nicorette?  Opinions vary, but personally I believe that people who have smoked long-term should at least consider using the products.  Many ex-smokers fall into the trap of trying just one cigarette or smoking during a social occasion in the belief that they can quit again the following day.  But most ex-smokers who give in to that temptation usually go back to regular smoking.  Keeping a regular supply of Nicorette can help in emergencies.

Can a person cut down gradually?  Cutting down smoking rarely works.  Try asking any heavy smoker to give up their first cigarette of the morning, then ask the person to delay their second by an hour.  They may manage for a few days, but will often find the deprivation too much to handle.

What benefits have you seen?  Aside from the obvious financial ones, a great deal of health benefits…improved lung function, vast improvement in asthma, no morning cough.  In fact, the morning cough of many years stopped completely within a day of me giving up smoking.  Pretty incredible but true.

Nearly forgot the important question…have I smoked a cigarette or taken a sneaky drag on one during the last eleven months?   No.

 

 

A Summer Break

The summer has arrived with scorching temperatures, a welcome contrast to earlier in the year, and I’ve completed the third draft of my latest novel, Silent, a novel for Young Adults (YA).  I will now take a break from the novel and seek independent advice on what to do next.

In Silent, a psychological thriller, five music students come together for a week of piano workshops at Harlesden Hall, a stately estate on the Yorkshire/Lancashire borders, but relations between the five soon get complicated. Central character Gavin (18) suspects that something sinister is going on in the surrounding countryside and he soon finds himself targeted by an unseen stalker. 

At the opening of the novel, five years on, Gavin returns to the area for answers:

I continue on, taking in the air in the hope of catching a scent from those student days of five years ago. A rhythm, the hint of a voice or laughter. Perfume. Her perfume. But I catch only the silence of the fields and the river and the bleakness all around me, the traces of memories and regrets. The overwhelming scent of manure in the air. Thundery clouds reflected in the surface of the river. The silence that is rarely calm.

RIP.

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

Check out the reviews for  Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

Local musician publishes crime thriller

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

The Present Tense In Fiction, Psychological Immediacy

When I first started writing fiction, nearly a decade ago, I tended to favour the omniscient method in which the author not only tells the story but identifies him or herself as the narrator.  Not surprisingly, I preferred past tense to present, and the shift to my current preference of first person narrative in present tense took several years.

Why do I prefer the present tense?  

  • It creates a greater level of psychological immediacy
  • It provides a simpler structure in which to write
  • It helps the author to become aware of redundancies in the writing, for instance “resumed again” – the fact something resumes means it’s happening again, so the second word “again” is unnecessary in the context
  • Back story becomes easier, as the writer can employ simple past tense

What are the cons of using the present tense in fiction, especially with first person?  In my opinion, the writer risks creating too much immediacy, where everything that happens only happens in the central character’s head.  In such instances, the reader can lose the sense of events occurring chronologically. Plus, the intensity can become too much – i.e. all on the same level.

The following is taken from my current novel in progress, a psychological thriller based on a group of music students who take part in a Summer School for pianists.  The central character finds the week particularly difficult due to a failed relationship with a girl on the course.   During the week, the central character becomes increasingly aware of a potentially sinister situation in the surrounding countryside:

I continue climbing and cross a stile where the third dead rabbit lies on the ground.
Step round it.
A branch snaps nearby.
And then another.
I look round again.
Nothing.
Quicken my pace. Reach the next stile. Climb over. Further ahead, a fourth rabbit lies on the ground with its insides ripped out, blood still dripping on the grass.
And then I see something else. A knife on the ground coated with blood and the remains of rabbit.
I leg it diagonally, running as fast as I can.
 
Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

The No-Smoking Challenge, Nearly A Year On

July 24th will mark my first anniversary as a non-smoker.   As I said in a previous post, I smoked for more than two decades, often chain smoking in the evenings.  Just under a year ago, someone from  the surgery phoned me to arrange an annual asthma check, and during the conversation, they brought up the subject of quitting smoking.  At the time, I responded negatively, saying that I’d tried several times to give up but failed, usually on the third day.  However, within three weeks of that call, I’d quit.

Questions I get asked about not smoking:

Does it get easier? Yes, but the first year can be difficult.  Unfortunately, sudden urges to smoke can come out of the blue, even after months of not smoking.

What about just one cigarette every now and again?   A big temptation for many…if I just have one, I can quit again tomorrow. Unfortunately, the majority of ex-smoker who try just one will often try another and usually they end up smoking again.

Do certain things make the temptation to smoke worse?   Anything with caffeine, like tea and coffee.  Certainly, events that are emotionally stressful.

What about nicotine products like Nicorette?  Opinions vary, but personally I believe that people who have smoked long-term should at least consider using the products.  Many ex-smokers fall into the trap of trying just one cigarette or smoking during a social occasion in the belief that they can quit again the following day.  But most ex-smokers who give in to that temptation usually go back to regular smoking.  Keeping a regular supply of Nicorette can help in emergencies.

Can a person cut down gradually?  Cutting down smoking rarely works.  Try asking any heavy smoker to give up their first cigarette of the morning, then ask the person to delay their second by an hour.  They may manage for a few days, but will often find the deprivation too much to handle.

What benefits have you seen?  Aside from the obvious financial ones, a great deal of health benefits…improved lung function, vast improvement in asthma, no morning cough.  In fact, the morning cough of many years stopped completely within a day of me giving up smoking.  Pretty incredible but true.

Nearly forgot the important question…have I smoked a cigarette or taken a sneaky drag on one during the last eleven months?   No.