Author: hermione

Print version now available in the US!

The final proof has been approved and you can now buy the print version of Flaming Sword, in the US via CreateSpace, here.

If you’re in the UK or Europe, it will be available in a few days here, so please be patient.

Meanwhile, Coals of Fire will be available next month. Watch this space.

 

Print version coming soon!

FS proof copyThis is the first proof copy of Flaming Sword. We’ve made a couple of corrections so the second one will be here soon. Then we’ll put it up on Amazon at the princely sum of £6.99.

I am vastly impressed by the Amazon CreateSpace service. They can print a book within a few hours, on demand. So I’m not reduced to having to store a garage full of books. Fantastic! Good for the planet, good for everyone. I love technology.

The Kindle version in the UK can be found here.

We have a publication date!

altcover 300Finally, we have got our act together and the first book in the series will be published on Amazon Kindle on 15 February 2015. The cover image has been updated and there are a few last-minute updates to the book, but the story is essentially the same as before. Main difference is that now the book is to be published via Amazon, it is no longer available as a free download. It will be priced at £1.99. We are also preparing a paperback version via CreateSpace, which will also be available soon.

The book is an angry rant, because it’s a spiritual journey and Vian has developed a lot of bitterness over the years, owing to his ‘invisible’ autism, or, as anyone else might put it, his weirdness. It’s also a story about the chance to build a nation from scratch, based on sustainability and community spirit.

I realised the other day that the book is very close to the Green party manifesto in many ways (though by no means all). The idea is to have a society that includes everybody, allows everybody to live a decent life, but doesn’t degenerate into a communist nightmare.

Could it happen here? Probably not, but only because we’re not starting from scratch. All the Greens can do is to try to vote against the money and fend off the idea that they’re a bunch of crackpots. Vian doesn’t have that problem; there isn’t any money – yet. There aren’t any Greens either; there are no political parties. And the ideas aren’t crackpot, because they arise from necessity. We’ll see.

Gender issues

I promised a post on gender issues, but the one I put up was based on an upset in my own head that didn’t really have a lot to do with gender issues, more with being preached/moaned at yet again. I need to work on that – it’s emphatically not something I should expect everyone else to tiptoe round and I’m always sorry when I’ve flung back the offence or emotional discomfort that I myself experienced. Even at the age of 61 I still get these old memes in my head and certain things really infuriate me. So i’m as guilty as the people I rant about. This version is a little more measured.

I loathe misogyny; it’s a form of hypocrisy, and of projecting all your problems on to another group so you can walk through life with a clear conscience. But the same goes for misandry, which here in the free, affluent West is the mainstay of feminism, along with the idea that all women are innocent and vulnerable but at the same time should be given jobs as CEOs of big companies.

The idea, perpetrated in all the Judaeo-Christian traditions, that

women=sex,
sex is bad
ergo women are bad and must be crushed utterly

is to me one of the most insidious and vile of the memes to have emerged in human consciousness.

But just as insidious and vile is the meme that goes

men=power over women
power is bad
ergo men are bad and must be crushed utterly.

One is about sex, the other is about cruelty, which is no more or less than abuse of power that you happen to have over another person or creature.

But spend time in an all-girls’ boarding school run by bitter old virgins, whether nuns or not, and you’ll see that cruelty is not confined to one gender.

No, these memes are symptomatic of something much deeper, and i don’t mind saying that I don’t know exactly what that is. Perhaps, like money, it’s an attempt to stave off whatever you’re afraid of, whether it’s pain, shame or death itself.

I was never taught to walk in fear of men, of being attacked in a dark alley. I was taught to walk in fear of shame – being manipulated, ridiculed and/or judged. That is my principal phobia, and sure enough, like the pink elephant you mustn’t think about, that is what I walk straight into, time and time again. Which is probably why I get so upset at feminist rants and other preaching on social media about issues that bother other people and I just find insulting. Other people I know have different patterns in their lives, different things that happen to them, time and time again. It seems to be about what your own particular brain has learned to look for.

Gender is not an important part of my identity. For a long time I wished I was born male, but the more men I meet the more I understand that it’s just a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Men are no less vulnerable than women, and no more powerful either. I see myself as androgynous, from my ‘tomboy’ childhood to my enthusiastic participation in the local woodturning club. And because I’m not bothered about it, I don’t get persecuted for it, at least not by men.

But I am beginning to understand (autism slows this process so it’s very late in life) that every one of us has our own patterns of fear that are so entrenched that they are almost impossible to eradicate. Once bitten, many times bitten. It’s the feeling of being bitten in the first place that makes you twice shy. I’m finding that autistic people are teaching me a lot; they demonstrate this phenomenon more clearly than most. But the phenomenon is universal. Which would suggest that the thing to work on eradicating is the fear, not the thing your brain has focused on as a threat. I think I’m finally getting to grips with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous comment in his inaugural address: the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.

Flaming Sword update!

I’ve updated FS a little – minor tweaks in the plot, and more about the relationship developing. Thought it would be shorter now, turns out it’s about 5000 more words! Also, for those of my kind friends who have a very early version, I’ve put in more chapter breaks.

The great thing about e-books is you can edit and improve the book on the fly. It seems that Amazon now keep your books – the ones you’ve bought from them – in the cloud and automatically send the latest version to your Kindle or Kindle app. I have yet to find my way round the business of publishing, getting an ISBN number, all that sort of thing, but I’m going to work on that over the next few weeks and put Flaming Sword in the Kindle store. That version will no longer have the Creative Commons licence, and I shall be finally putting a small price on it. Meanwhile the current version is here.

As always, comments welcome!

An autistic spiritual journey

Thing is, we weirdos just don’t get it, and some of us do try very hard. Empty your mind, they say. What on earth does that mean? Vian’s rant to himself in the moonlight after he sees Madelin with Lander at the end of the third chapter is my own stream of consciousness, based on something written elsewhere but not published, and it’s a very bitter rant. But the thing with the Quakers did actually happen to me. Quakers, of all people! It’s true, there might indeed have been something a bit odd about the particular meeting I attended, which I shall never name in writing. They don’t know me as HH anyway, those that are still alive by now.

But the Quakers weren’t the only ones. I’ve been to meditation centres, that cause cèlèbre the School of Economic Science, as well as a taiji school in London, yoga classes, psychoanalysis, counselling – including a group my own counsellor invited me to and then shouted at me during a session – I mean the works, and (ok I’m sensitised but) I felt rejected and actually despised with real hostility from all of them.

And that was because, as I now understand, I am a seriously obnoxious so-and-so and the Aspie thing, which I only discovered recently, just made it worse. I’m not a nice person, and not for want of trying, but I do have friends and I never cease to be amazed that such wonderful people seem actually to like me. Just as some of my characters seem to like Vian.

So I’m not trying to be a Richard Bach or a Paulo Coelho, writing uplifting fantasies that touch people’s hearts and have a message in them. I can’t stand preaching, and don’t intend to compound the felony by doing it myself. I just want to explain how difficult it is for me, and others like me, to get their questions answered without putting people’s backs up. Because they are real questions. We put our heart and soul into them. We really need to know what they are talking about. And when they come back with a loving and giving Zen story (yes, I’ve read them) or quote the Daodejing at me (yes, I’ve read it) I want to punch them. They don’t understand. It’s obvious to them, or at least they claim it is to please their teacher. They can’t see that it’s opaque to me, and not because I ‘need to be logical’ or ‘need scientific proof’. I’ve read quite a lot of stuff in the philosophy of science in my younger days. Like Vian, I can do metaphor and irony, even allegory, like the best of them. And I love the Daodejing, and I don’t ‘take it literally’ – I see the paradox it’s trying to point out. Take a look at verse 38.

So, what is Vian’s next move, after Coals of Fire? He’s come out of his sheltered life and having to grow up – and he’s already turning forty. He’s physically compromised after the episode at the farm, and he’s no longer unbeatable in combat. He’s got a high-maintenance girlfriend whom he loves to distraction, and he wonders whether his love is good enough. He doesn’t really have love nailed, and his confidence is still precarious. But does anyone have love nailed? We get told that ‘neurotypicals’ understand this stuff – if that were the case the human race would show some competence. I’m almost thankful that competence is astonishingly rare. If we were competent we’d have wiped ourselves off the planet long ago. Oops, that’s me being bitter again. But I hope you know what I mean.

Vian needs to ditch the bitterness. Getting older helps. We’ll see.

Coals of Fire Bible quote

In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s in Romans 12:20, also in Proverbs somewhere I think.
‘Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.’

Coals of Fire now available

I’ve finished the second book, Coals of Fire, first pass anyway, and it’s now available on request. I’m afraid that means you’ll have to ask me for the link. You can reply to this post or email me on

hermione(at)zendao.net  [Change the (at) to @]

Vian and Madelin have moved to Somerset and are trying to settle in. Meanwhile the country is getting back on its feet again, as the new government brings it back from the Middle Ages.

But things don’t run that smoothly in the village, and Vian soon finds himself seriously out of his depth. He has to discover who his friends are, and quickly. He is still famous, and in danger of putting everything he’s achieved, as well as his own life, in jeopardy. And he has to learn about forgiveness.

As usual, I would be very glad of some feedback. If you have difficulty downloading the file, please let me know and I’ll try to fix it for you.

Autistic Fiction

There are plenty of books, some extremely successful, about autistic people; they can and do make a useful plot device. But I’ve yet to see a work of fiction written by someone who is herself ‘out’ on the spectrum.

Vian and Madelin are no more autistic than I am. They don’t conform to the Aspie stereotype, but then hardly any Aspies do. Some of us are no more confounded than anyone else when the local supermarket decides to revamp its layout, or we get sent round the houses by a flood diversion on the road, or a backfire makes us jump out of our skin. We’re not all meticulously tidy, we don’t all have to have our food carefully arranged on the plate, we’re not all brilliant programmers.

But I did recently get my diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and the general feeling was ‘that explains a lot’. It explains why my comfort zone so often evaporates unexpectedly; why I haven’t had a career even though I’ve got three degrees; why I still blow it, time and time again; why I’ve always wondered whether I’m spiritually disabled.

The trilogy is my attempt to sort it all out for myself. The first two books have practically written themselves; once I established Vian’s post-apocalyptic situation, they just flowed out on to the page in four months. The second book needs a bit more tidying up, and will be out soon. So far I’m in familiar territory; the third book will venture into the unknown. But like the others, I expect it will make itself up as it goes along.