Friday, 23 November 2012

The Religion of Science

(Or the Science of Religion. Whichever. Pick a title!)

Science and religion are two very strange bedfellows. They don't tend to get along very well.

Unless you live in our house where they grab a bottle of good red wine and crash out together to watch England beat Germany 5-0 in penalties (which no amount of science or religion will solve because, as everyone knows, England's shite at penalties).

Why? Well, I come from a bit of an odd family (the sign in the kitchen says it all. "Remember, as far as anyone knows, we're a nice, normal family..."). My Dad's an engineer, one of those blokes who can fix anything from the stapler to a military jet (That one I only found out about a few years ago. Thanks Official Secrets Act!).

And it also brings about some interesting conversations and debates. Such as, would the ark have been possible? Was the world really created in seven days? How could you part the sea? Give him twenty minutes with a pencil, paper and slide rule and he'll give you the answer. And if he can't find the answer, he'll keep on going until he comes to some kind of conclusion. It's an odd, and extremely funny, marriage, one which we've enjoyed since we were young.

'Cause, you see, we'd take the those stories we were told in Sunday school and challenge his brain with them. As you can see, it's still fun!

Unlike some people, my parents happily acknowledge that, without science, the world wouldn't be the world it is. We wouldn't have medicines, or high speed travel, or computers, or the internet, without the power of the human mind. "Sure," they say, "we'll pray for you while you're sick, but you better be taking those pills the doctors gave you. 'Cause if you don't there's gonna be trouble."

Want to know how that plane got off the ground? Here, have a physics book. Want to look a little deeper at life? Here, read something by one of the great teachers who've passed through this world.

Recently we've been talking a lot about the science of music and how the body is "programmed" to respond to certain rhythms and beats. There's a lot written about the subject so feel free to Google it. It's utterly fascinating and a reminder of just how incredible this world is.

This post was inspired by this video. Despite having worked for Rolls Royce, Dad never got to see this test done. He often wondered what he was missing on test days. Now he knows! Be sure to crank the volume up!

I know that both religion and science are touchy subjects for some people. This post is just a humorous look at my slightly crazy family. Please treat it as such. :) My dream? That everyone, no matter what religion or scientific leaning they have, will be able to live in perfect harmony. Let's try and make it happen. :)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

My Next Big Thing

Thank you to the awesome Wendy Steele for this. Head on over to her site and take a look at the great things she does. Lots of positivity and happiness there!

What is the working title of your book?
"The Eve of War (Veetu Industries #3)"

Where did the idea come from for the book?
 It's the continuation of the series I'm working on, with the first two being "Mars on the Rise" and "Selling Mars". It was only supposed to be one book, but people were asking what happened next. Everything snowballed from there!

What genre does your book fall under?
It's generally considered to be LGBT Steampunk. Although I tend to lean towards "Crazy things which come out of Rae's brain which someone, somewhere, likes".

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Mars on the Rise took 18 months, Selling Mars took a year. The Eve of War, so far, has taken a year and it's not finished yet.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
War of the Worlds, V for Vendetta (even though it's not Steampunk), The War in the Air.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Lots of things! Music, photos, books, things people say, places I've been. There's actually a style book on my Facebook page of things which have inspired the books.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

That it's not your normal Steampunk?! A friend described it as "sexily unconventional steampunky stories".

And now it's time for me to pass this on to a few other people. Please say hello to:

Michele Poet, author of the award winning "50 Shades of Blue"
Sam Stone, wonderful lady and author of "Zombies at Tiffany's", which is beyond brilliant!
Linzi Cooke, author, musician, multi-talented and extremely funny lady. You couldn't ask for more!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

An Ode to Dad

Dad turned 60 today.

Can't believe it. Where have the years gone?!

Apparently I was a bit of a surprise. My parents were told they couldn't have kids. Then it happened and, on 14th February 1981, I was born, the first of three. If the story's to be believed, Dad didn't hear the tannoy telling him he needed to get to the hospital. Instead, his foreman had to go and get him and tell him to get himself to the hospital pronto.

Dad and I haven't always seen eye to eye (quite literally, as I'm a lot smaller!). Our arguments when I was a teenager were legendary and are still talked about today. But, over the years, we've both mellowed and come to have a mutual appreciation of many things (a good piece of engineering, a fine wine, a bloody good football match).

So many things about Dad never fail to impress me. The way he stands up to what's right, even if it's not the opinion of everyone else. His work ethic. His ability to be able to fix anything. The way he can plan something to within an inch of its life and, when everyone else doubts him, the way it all pulls together. There's so many things I could list and I'm sure I'll keep discovering them.

Happy birthday, Dad! Here's to the next 10 years!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Inspirational Interview 1 - Abir

Over the past year I've had the wonderful pleasure of getting to know Abir. Strong, funny, lovely, creative, beautiful and an inspiration to all, she's inspired me to start a series of interviews on the website. I wanted to find people who share the love of being positive, of putting good works into the world, and trying to change it for the better. Because this world is just so dark right now. It needs a pick-me-up. Needs people to stand up for they believe in, and to show the world that we're not all going to give in to the horrors which happen on a daily basis.

Abir is part of Gothrock band Madness of the Night. Their music carries strong messages and is gaining a lot of momentum in the world. So, without further ado, I'd love for you to meet the wonderful Abir.


Hello Abir! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It's great to see you! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Greetings Rach. I’m very happy to answer you and honored to be interviewed by you.
All I can say that I lived a very hard life, in extreme wars, abusive relationships, very abusive father. I could say that I have been locked many years in my room not to see my father. I’m a feminist, songwriter, singer, painter, drummer, software programmer, DJ. I have experienced everything in life pleasures and pain. I come from Beirut. From a very political family. My grandfather was a minister in the Lebanese government. My family is a very open multicultural tolerant family. We have Christians, Muslims, Druze, Buddists and different nationalities inside our family. It is a big family. Though i lived in Oppressed situations in many different phases in my life. I'm also a Bipolar and married to a Swedish man which is my partner in life and music.

Madness of the Night, for me, harken back to earlier bands, easily capturing the sound and feel which has been missing for so long. Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration comes from inside. We have never been trying to sound like anyone. Though we listen to Classicals, Opera, Gothic rock . And we simply do it our way. For me as a singer I don’t want to sing like any particular singer.

What kind of message are you trying to get over?

I would like to unite people through my music. There is a political message, a feminist message to women, a warning to politicians not to use people. A message of a revolution to the world. And standing for what is right even if you are alone. Peace and Unity between all nations on earth is what is the vision of MOTN.

Are there any artists or bands who inspire you?

Not Artists nor any band. Do I sound bad because i say this? (No, not bad at all! Rae) What inspires me is the voice of nature, birds, sea, hearing bombs in Beirut it effected me a lot. Those are voices that inspired me and they flow inside of me all the time.

Do you ever feel marginalized by society because of the music you make? If so, do you feel you're able to break down these barriers?

There are pressures. People would think why be an artist. You cannot own money from it. Work as a politician and you would become rich and more written about. Those opinions I heard. It makes the person stronger. Just ignore this. In Sweden there is a word called Lagom it means everything have to be the same, everyone should dress the same, eat the same. Much more like a Socialist way of thinking. No one is allowed to think outside the box!.

Madness of the Night have recently been picked up by a manager and record label. You've also been getting a lot of radio play. You must be extremely proud! How does it feel?

Our manager is Fredrik Ahlström he is a relative in our family. He have helped us a lot in getting played. He wrote a lot of promotions, letters and hardwork on twitter, facebook, sites even phone.
Massacre Records is our label. And yes I’m proud. I hope it gives a reason for other people to have the same motivation. If you believe it will be. And nothing can stop you.

The band, tragically, has been the focus of a few negative attacks, which you take in your stride. It's an unfortunate side effect of another person's success and one which needs to be dealt with. How do you deal with people who want to bring you down? Do you have any advice for others who are just starting out in creative industries on how to deal with such people?

We have been sent letters, phone calls, stalkers over the internet. There is someone trying to stop us and he or they can never will. We will do what is right and focus on bringing out the message of MOTN. I presume bad or shit talk is jealousy. You only need to be original not a copycat and believe in yourself. In general many artists are attacked all the time by other bands, DJ's or ignorant people. The strong person knows how to ignore shit talk and continue working.

Being a woman in the music industry can be tough, with only a handful of bands ever seeming to get the recognition they deserve. How do you feel about being a woman in the music industry?

I never view myself as a woman while singing. If I do then I know maybe I will not be able to grow balls, grow a mustache someday and sing like a man. Start seeding yourself from inside as a human not a gender.
You can also wear makeup and wear bikini. You can wear a slip. What matters is being tough and don't take shit from no one. I recognize myself with a Transsexual voice I sometimes like to change the pitches of my voices from male pitch to the female pitch.

Do you find there are certain pressures on you to do a particular thing, or dress a particular way?

No. I usually dress what I want. In the Gothic subculture. There is Always the dark Colors. This is a shallow View. It is the music that counts not the dress. If you Wear orange or yellow but got the talent nothing will stop you. Andrew Eldritch with his famous orange shirt lol. For me personally I wear what I want.

Do you think women are taken seriously in the music industry?
Yes and no. It depends on the radio, label, surrounding and open mindness of people. Submit your music to serious DJ's, serious radios and serious labels that's my answer.

Or are they just treated as “sex symbols”? If so, what do you think needs to be done to break these perceptions?

We surround ourselves with assholes not all men are Jerks. Not all men are dark forces. Not all men abuse women. But we the women allow those men determine the rules. Being sexy is wonderful. If you wanna go naked do it but do it for yourself, maybe just being daring, sharing a powerful message and not pleasing a handful of men. This is what is a sex symbol is pleasing men. Please yourself. Find the power to break the rules.

You're well known for your amazing support of minorities, in particular women. What message would you like to give to the world? What would you like to say to the women of the world?
Yes :
Only revolution inside of you
it will liberate you
only rebellion
strengthen you
only your strength
will embrace u
raise in steel
this is how you feel
the power in yourself
will reveal you

Can you pinpoint where your views came from? What keeps you going with your support when there's so much negativity in the world?
My views comes from Life. I lived in East and West. To understand that this world needs tolerance, acceptance, revolution, standing against wars and politicians, removing jealousy hate from your heart and being happy for other people when they achieve. Negativity comes from tragedy but through tragedy comes triumph.

Your positivity and beautiful mental attitude is an inspiration to many. It's something which many around the world need to learn about and use. How do you keep yourself so positive?
I surround myself with positive people, positive manager, label, positive DJs, friends. Enviroment is important. When you hear bombs on the streets all your life many cannot be positive. But in every stone grows a flower. Grab this flower.

What advice would you give to people who want to change their outlook and become more positive?

No one can stop you. Be original. Be not a copycat. Do your thing. Enforce happiness on yourself cause everyone deserve it. Love the ones who are jealous from you. Positivity is your only choice against odds, wars, tragedy in life. Never submit, never quit! 


Is there anything else you'd like to say? Any messages or information we need to know?

We have added a member to Madness of the Night. She is a very talented Sitar artist and theatre artist. Her name is Fatima Addberger she is also an Indian Scandinavian (Sami).
Our Facebook page is . MOTN will be played on Arabic Radio but that news will be announced there by Fredrik as soon as we know when. And our new song Stand Up is on only on our Facebook page will not be found anywhere else. It is dedicated to the Syrian Revolution and against dictators!.

Thank you for taking time to interview me. I enjoy the questions. Smiles.

To listen to Madness of the Night, go to:

You can find them on online at:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My Next Big Thing

Over the next few weeks, several of my friends are taking part in the My Next Big Thing blog chain. Today is Wendy Steele's turn to take the baton and, next week, I'll be taking it and passing it on to several other people. Wendy is a fantastic woman, and a beautiful soul. Be sure to head over and see what she has to say. :)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Winter Giveaway

Along with a whole host of other brilliant authors, I'm taking part in the great winter giveaway over on Cecilia Spark's site. Hop on over to the website and enter for some cool wintery goodies!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Mental Block

"He had this idea. It was kind of a virologist idea. He believed that you could cure racism and hate... literally cure it, by injecting music and love into people's lives. When he was scheduled to perform at a peace rally, a gunman came to his house and shot him down. Two days later he walked out on that stage and sang. When they asked him why - He said, "The people, who were trying to make this world worse... are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness."" 
- Robert Neville talking about Bob Marley (film version of I Am Legend)

1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health problem in a year. And that's just in the UK. Goodness knows what it's like for the rest of the world.

I suffer with Bipolar. It's no secret. It's been talked about one here, and it forms part of the URL for several pages and blogs I own. Many people refuse to speak about mental health problems, as though, because they're in the mind, they're not there. It can't be seen so it's not happening.

But it is, and it happens on a massive scale, far larger than any of us can imagine. Many people who have a mental health issues are creative, either through a natural inclination or because they find it helps. Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Fry, Edgar Allan Poe and Chris Joseph are just a few of the people diagnosed with Bipolar alone. Think of who else there is out there who has some kind of mental health issue. You're not alone in this world!

Yet it affects that core desire, that desire to create. And when it hits, it hits hard. For the past week, it's affected me. I've looked at my work and it's seemed tepid and uninspired. I can see what's coming in the stories and it bores me. I don't want to be a part of that world any more, don't want to drag readers down a path which will bore them senseless. Don't want people having to wade through a bunch of crap to get to some uninspired ending. The mouse hovered over the delete button, the email was ready to send to the publisher to tell them that there would be no more. I didn't want it any more, considered myself a failure. The future looked bleak.

Then something happened. We threw a party at my day job. I'd organised it and, much to my surprise, it went a million times better than I could ever have expected. People were singing and dancing and having a good time. The elderly residents joined in, singing with us and, for those who could no longer walk, encouraging those who could to dance like their lives depended on it. We hugged, we drank wine, we ate silly amounts of cake. We had an awesome time. Who'd have thought that a couple of bottles of wine, some homemade cakes, a few silly hats, and a bit of music could bring so much joy?!

And it got me thinking. Happiness isn't just about success. It's about finding it in the little things in life. It's about laughing (and making someone laugh), dancing like your life depends on, singing, walking, listening to your favourite song, sliding along a polished wooden floor. It's about the little things which, in turn, can lead on to the bigger things. A positive mental attitude can get you so very far!

So how do you overcome the mental illness and writers block? Different things work for different people, and if you have a suggestion, feel free to pop it in to the comments. :) A few from me...
- Take time out from it. Don't force yourself to write. Go for a walk, or listen to some music. Have a cup of tea or read a book.
- Never ever look on yourself as a failure. Just because you've not churned out a New York Times bestseller by the time you're 30 doesn't label you as a failure. Everyone has to work to get to where they want to be.
- Make the most of what you have. If you want to go and spend time with your family, do it. 
- Look after you health. If you're stressed and tired then your writing it going to look the same.
- Go and work on another project. I routinely have several on the go, picking and choosing as my mood takes me.
- Always carry a notebook with you, 'cause you're going to hate yourself if that writer's block lifts while you're stuck on the 18.06 from Euston to Birmingham!
- Most of all, enjoy it. It's not supposed to be a chore. If you're having fun writing, then it really will show through.

Have fun, and good luck! And, as always, feel free to chat away in the comments. :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

5 Years of Silence

"But it's been
Fourteen years of silence
It's been
Fourteen years of pain
It's been
Fourteen years that are gone forever
And I'll never have again"
'14 Years' - Guns N' Roses

It's wasn't quite fourteen years, but it felt like it. From 2003 to 2007, I didn't write. Nothing, nada, zilch. There were ideas rolling through my head but they refused to come out on to the page. I carried notebooks and pens everywhere, sat in front of computers, but nothing.

It was the loneliest five years of my life. The silence in my mind was deafening, a heavy weight around my neck. I wanted to create, wanted to be prolific, but I couldn't. It was one of the most painful times of my life.

The silence could have been caused by a number of things. The withdrawals from the vices I'd left behind. The shitty conditions I lived in for some of that time. The amount of legal medication which was being pushed in to me to counteract the effects of the illegal ones. It could have been anything.

Finally, in 2007, a spark began to blossom, crackling in to life. Oddly, I'd been stumbling around the internet looking for a piece of original fiction I'd read in the previous years. During this search, I fell across a website which only accepted the best of the best in free original fiction (sadly now defunct. May it rest in internet peace). To be featured on it, you had to get past a barrage of different moderators. If your grammar, or your plotting, or any of a number of different factors, was slightly off, it was sent back to you to modify.

Going through the different stories, I began to feel that warm, surging inspiration begin to rise. I started in my soul before it clenched my heart, sending a Bonfire Night explosion of fireworks through my brain. Suddenly all the different neurons were beginning to fire again, pinging off one another.

My first piece was a long, winding piece based on the idea of the Big Brother show (except a lot more explicit and twisted). And that was it. Since then, I've never been able to shut up!

Why am I writing this post? Because, across the internet, I see comments from would-be-writers, all wondering why they can't write. It may be a number of factors, but I see people pushing themselves way too hard to achieve something which may not be meant to happen yet. Writing is supposed to be fun and pleasurable. No one makes money off it in the first go (I started Mars on the Rise in 2009 and it was 3 years before it saw the light of on a publisher's website).

Go and look for inspiration in the strangest places.
Search the internet for those oddities. 
Does a particular song speak to you? Go and look up the meaning behind it and see if that does anything for you. 
Don't force yourself to write in a particular genre (Up until 2 years ago I hated hard sci-fi with a passion. Now there are the beginnings of several such stories on my computer).
Don't force back an idea because you hate it; you never know what it'll turn in to.
Don't try and think too hard; let everything speak for itself (not something everyone does, but it may help someone. :) ).
Go and join one of the writing websites (I got my start on WEbook). Read, submit and talk to others.
Lastly, don't listen to the rules. Rules are there for a reason; to be broken!

Feel free to share your stories, and screams of frustration around here. People do read the comments, and someone may be able to offer some advice. Most of all, don't stop trying to write. There's something in you which wants to come out.

Best o' British luck to you!