A book, a manuscript, a life: a week of endings comes to its conclusion #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

A book, a manuscript, a life: a week of endings comes to its conclusion #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

Glad that my book’s endings are on a more positive note than life’s own resolution

The new cover for Common Sense. Isn’t it great?

Done. Done. Done. It is of endings I wish to speak today. Seems a fitting theme for the week. It began with a message from my publisher about book #5 for 2016: Common Sense, the second revised edition. I was so proud when I published this book six years ago. It was a bit of a dream for me to write, a book about all the things I hold dear in my “day job” career: communication, learning, ethics. It was also the first time I had written a book in English, rather than Swedish or German. However, my publisher at the time didn’t do a very good job at editing the book (and I was too ignorant to know better), and despite their assurances that “no, no, we checked everything with a native speaker”, my less than adequate English had made it to print, and yeah, well, you can imagine what happened when ‘real’ natives got their hands on it. I was trashed. It was a shame, because I am still very proud of the contents of the book.

In 2013, the publisher was sold, and I couldn’t come to an agreement with the buyer on how to market a new edition. They solely work in Scandinavia, I had an English book and wanted to market it world-wide. I got my rights back and, well, had begun writing fiction, and Common Sense fell by the wayside. This year, I finally had the chance to work on the manuscript again. I added a chapter on talent management, diversity, employer branding and social responsibility, areas I’ve worked in the past years, and we completely updated the entire book. Now it’s finally ready, and I’m very excited. It’ll be release next Thursday, December 15th, and the e-book is already available for pre-order. The paperback will follow shortly.

Nonfiction titles are different from fiction books in that they often include graphics, tables, and other details that make the creation of the paperback more complex. And e-books have limitations in what you can do. My publisher did a stellar job! And I’m really happy with the new edition. New fresh cover, and finally a language I can be proud of. Since my editor is also a social scientist, like myself, I feel really good about the contents, as well as the language. A great process! We had some really interesting discussions about unconscious vs subconscious… You’ll see!

My new novel, the sequel to Jonathan’s Hope, deals with difficult topics, such as love at old age, and relationships when “for worse” is really tested. Yes, love plays a major role, but not the lead. (see, no spoilers)

The second done came yesterday, when I got to put down the pen on my latest novel, The Pillow (I think the name is going to stick). I don’t think I’ve ever worked as long on a first draft. I began writing it in May and only now, seven months later am I done. Between that first image of a man desperately clutching a pillow, in despair over having lost the love of his life, to finishing the book was one of the more interesting journeys of my authorship. And I’m still not done. I will embark on a journey to Lapland to do more research on site, to really get to know the people and the Sami culture. I can’t wait.

Last night, just as I was going to bed, I was reminded of another story which has had a great impact on my life. Two years ago, while in Chicago, I met a fellow author, TJ Klune. TJ is a really nice guy, and a great author. Shortly after meeting TJ, I began to hear stories about him and his relationship with fellow author Eric Arvin. TJ and Eric had gotten engaged when Erik suddenly fell ill. I don’t know details, and I never asked for them, but shortly after he’d fallen ill, TJ and Eric decided to go their separate ways. I have heard several explanations about why they took that decision. I won’t comment on it. Not my place. However, their story lingered with me, and subconsciously, I struggled with the concept of “for better or worse”, and when I finally had the chance, I worked it into a novel. It was supposed to be the main plot of Jonathan’s Promise. Now, my characters have minds of their own, and Jonathan is one of my strongest characters ever, so in the end, the book is at least as much about him and the challenges he faces than what I had “planned” for Cody and Parker. If you ever wonder where that conflict came from, now you do…

Last night, I read that Eric is dying, from the complications of his latest infection. Life is resolving the “real life” conundrum permanently, but I’m glad that the endings I have in my books are on a more positive note, for the most part.. I can’t help but feel strongly for those two men, and I hope they both have found the peace all of us deserve in life, and that Erik’s passing may be painless and dignified. My thoughts are with him and his loved ones.

Have a peaceful third advent weekend.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Hans

#MondayBlogs: losing my mom and what it has taught me #Alzheimers #parenting

#MondayBlogs: losing my mom and what it has taught me #Alzheimers #parenting

When mom passed away three years ago, I was mostly grateful

There are days you never forget. Ever. We all know what we did 9/11. The day my mom passed away, today, three years ago, will also be etched onto my flash memory for the rest of my life. We got the call at about nine in the morning, and the primal scream that met me when I picked up my dad’s call still sends cold shivers down my spine: mom was gone.

This picture was taken less than three months before she passed away. A cherished moment of lucidity, clarity. And the love for her grandson shows. Or so I like to see it.

This picture was taken less than three months before she passed away. A cherished moment of lucidity, clarity. And the love for her grandson shows. Or so I like to see it.

The rest of that day was a mesh of an emotional roller coaster, my life’s worst flight experience (SAS, never again), delays and this sense of “I have to, no matter what”: getting to dad, comfort him. We did, and over the next ten days, my son Sascha got him and me through some of the most difficult days of our life.

Three years later, I still miss her. But before I tell you why, let me just explain why I was grateful then. Mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s, she had spent the last eight months in a nursing home, as her condition had deteriorated so much that dad could no longer care for her. With her mind slowly melting away, mom was no longer the person I had grown up with. Her personality had begun to alter after a bad riding accident in 1985, and after the onset of Alzheimer’s, she became irritable and paranoid. The latter causing her more suffering than the rest of the family, as it made her anxious, nervous and afraid. But yes, for my dad it was hell. Everything that went wrong was dad’s fault, she blamed him for everything. When she misplaced her keys (or simply forgot where she’d put them), she accused him of trying to lock her up. Four years ago, when dad was in the hospital for weeks after complications with kidney stones, I was looking after her, and those weeks showed me just what a heroic thing dad had been doing for the last five or more years. Just one example: one day she’d misplaced her arm rings, three simple yellow and white gold rings she’d been wearing for decades around her wrist. But she’d lost a lot of weight and they tended to fall off, so she had taken them off and put them in her bed side table. We looked for them for three hours straight, turning the entire house upside down, until I finally found them. During the entire time listening to her tirade about how a) dad had stolen them to give to mistresses, b) sold them to give money to a mistress, c) how the boy next door had broken in and stolen them etc. On and on, and on. And since her short term memory was gone, she’d go back and repeat everything, every five to ten minutes.

So yes, when mom died, I was relieved, primarily for my dad’s sake. The loss had hit him hard, but caring for her had taken a terrible toll on him.

This picture on the date of my parent's golden anniversary, just three months before mom left us.

This picture, taken on the same day as the one above, on my parent’s golden anniversary. Mom had a good day, her last one.

Three years later, I miss her, still. I miss her council. I miss to be able to ask her about parenting. I miss grandma. My mother in law was never much “mother” material, and she’s not what you would call a “domestic goddess”. We’ve done well, but I sometimes envy parents who can call their parents to ask about home remedies to help a sick kid, or how to handle a tantrum, or to just vent… My dad tries, but his is a generation where dads were expected to stay out of the whole raising of kids thing. That was women’s territory, men stay away. He has few memories to share that help me and my husband.

I also miss my mom’s almost limitless knowledge of mother nature, all the herbs, plants and flowers she knew had medical properties. My gypsy grandmother, plus no money meant that our family possessed an enormous knowledge of what to use for different ailments. I recall that as a child, my mom would dry the flowers of the linden tree to lower fevers, sweetened with candy cane and licorice root. We ate salad made from dandy lion leaves in the spring, rich in iron, and supposedly to cleanse the body after a long winter. But I know there was more, a lot more. Mom knew the names of every flower, every herb we ever came across. I don’t.

This picture of mom, dad and her two sons in law was taken on her 70th birthday. The disease had already been ravaging her for a few years, but she still had good days, like this one, surrounded by friends and family.

This picture of mom, dad and her two sons in law was taken on her 70th birthday. The disease had already been ravaging her for a few years, but she still had good days, like this one, surrounded by friends and family.

There is so much my mother knew. I often wonder about our roots, our family: where did we come from. As a young man, you don’t care about your roots, but as a father, I realize the importance of heritage, and I feel the need to have as many answers as possible so that one day, when my son asks, I can pass on those stories. However, by the time I began to really care about those stories, mom’s memory was gone. While she met her grandson a couple of times before she died, I’m not sure she actually realized that she was a grandmother. I do remember, however, that she was afraid that she would have to look after him, raise him. In her generation, men didn’t raise kids. That was her biggest fear, not joy that her son finally, after all those decades of hopelessness, was to become a father. I don’t blame her, but that hurt. It still does.

I miss my mother. I miss that we will never be able to swap kids stories, compare how alike my childhood was to my son’s. Did I behave as well/as badly as Sascha does at times? Did I fall asleep easily or did I keep getting up again and again, trying to push her buttons? What stories was I told as a kid? Did I insist on choosing my own clothes? Was I stubborn? I have some of those answers, I have the memories from my childhood, but not as far back as being two or three years old. And I wonder, how much of me is in Sascha? I will never have those answers. And for that, I miss my mother.

Mom was wise, mom was smart, and she had a heart of gold. She lives on, in the way I fold my underwear, in the way my dad insists on ironing his briefs to this day, in the way he stores silver wear and plates in the kitchen, how he buys groceries. Mom lives on in our memories, and we cherish the ones we have. They say it’s worthless to cry for spilled milk, but once every year, on December 5th, we get to at least express regret, regret that she’s no longer with us. For mom and us, death came as a mercy. It doesn’t make the consequences any easier to bear.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a peaceful and calm third week of Advent, and if you still have your parents, why not give them a call. Tell them you love them. It’s never too late, until it really truly is…

Hans

Research to get it factually right or to wing it? A writer’s difficult decisions… #asmsg #amwriting #LGBT #HIV

Research to get it factually right or to wing it? A writer’s difficult decisions… #asmsg #amwriting #LGBT #HIV

Factual accuracy vs winging it, not always an easy decision

I’m sure you’ve seen movies filmed in your home town, or at least a town you know. I have. I’ve seen Bond movies where they board a train in my home town, only to disembark on the other side of the country. Impossible, but nobody seemed to care. I’ve seen car chases in crime moves here in the city where they were chasing each other down one street and arrived somewhere entirely different. Artistic freedom? Botched research? Or did they simply not care?

In my novel, Willem of the Tafel, which plays out centuries after an all out nuclear war, the biggest challenge was to get the "world building" right. How bad would an all out war affect our planet? The answer: we don't really know.

In my novel, Willem of the Tafel, which plays out centuries after an all out nuclear war, the biggest challenge was to get the “world building” right. How bad would an all out war affect our planet? The answer: we don’t really know.

What about books? I recall a debate I had with this author of science fiction. It’s been over a year now, but he came down hard on me about my assumptions of how nuclear devices would impact if the exploded. I had done a lot of reading and research, leading up to making those “assumptions”, but believe it or not, most of the pertinent research publicly available was form the 1980s and written on typewriters. Yeah, kind of outdated. However, it’s the best I had access to, as I’m not privy to classified research models within the Pentagon. Sadly. I would’ve loved to talk to some of those experts, but alas… However, I was beat over the head with knowledge based on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was even stranger. If you’ve ever heard of Moore’s law of development you know that things develop more and faster (exponentially even), and not backwards. What’s to say that by the year 2100 nuclear bombs would be like they were in 1945? I made an assumption based on the 1980s and tried to extrapolate. Why? Because nobody really knows what will be. Now mind you, Moore’s Law is about computers, not bombs, but still, development is often exponential, not linear, are certainly not regressing (except in politics where we seem to never learn the lesson, but that’s for another day…)

Just look at the funny tablets they use in the 80s & 90s Star Trek shows. They’re thicker than any 2016 iPad is… Yet it’s supposed to be 24th century technology… We don’t always get the extrapolating right, even though tablets seemed very futuristic until 2010. At least we still don’t have their cool communicators.

How do you get here? It's not easy today, a combination of train & bus or flight and rental car, but back in the 1980ies? How often did trains run? How long did it take?

How do you get here, to Ammarnäs? It’s not even easy today, a combination of train & bus or flight and rental car, but back in the 1980s? How often did trains run? How long did it take? Does it matter? Photo: Swedish National Heritage Board

In the book I’m currently working on, I’ve had more than one research conundrum to contend with. While it was relatively easy to find information about domestic flight routes in the 1980s and 1990s, finding information about train routes was more difficult. And what about time tables? Where do you draw the line? Does it matter whether there was a train from A to B on a Sunday morning (there is none today) in 2007? Or do I just make that up? I’m not sure yet… Sometimes you can avoid such dilemmas by simply leaving them out.

On the other side, I spent two hours the other day finding a computer game from the nineties. Not as important, but you know, I still like to get it right. Where it becomes really difficult is when it’s really important to the story, when it cuts to the very core of what you’re trying to tell. Yes, I was very much alive in 1982 and onward, and I have my own personal memories of that time, but I lived in Switzerland, not Sweden. I was raised in a small mountain town, not the capital of millions. And being fifteen isn’t the same as being nineteen or twenty. I first came across AIDS in May of 1983. by way of a college student who asked me about it. So I can assume that gay men in Sweden would also have been aware of it by then. But what about 1982? If you look at the official U.S. timeline, you can see that things happened quickly, and that the first infamous article in the New York Times was published in July of 1981. So you might assume that adult gay men had probably heard about it, but would they have acted? Realized how dangerous it was? It wasn’t until March 1983 (two months before I first heard about it) that the first theories about sexual promiscuity were published. Until then, it was just “God’s punishment” or what not. So what would they have known? At the same time, I read on the official history of the Swedish LGBT federation that they’d “known since 1979”, which makes me wonder. Known what exactly? Was it just stories about gay men getting weird lesions that spread to Europe? Because clearly, at that time no doctors were connecting dots (which in itself doesn’t say that people within the community could’ve known), nor that some doctors did connect the dots. We just don’t know.

This is the year I first came into contact with AIDS. I wasn't even sixteen yet.

This is the year I first came into contact with AIDS. I wasn’t even sixteen yet. (I’m the guy on the right, just in case you wonder…) yeah, slim, too. LOL

To me, those are the really important questions. That is the research I really want to get right. Did a train run at a certain time or not? I think readers would forgive a certain level of artistic freedom.However, I do think I owe it to the thousands of HIV victims and survivors to get that part right. It’s important. Just a couple of examples from a book full of similar instances. I may know a lot, but the devil is in details, and with a  character of a different cultural background (Nilas is Sami) I also feel that I must do him justice. And his culture, a culture as oppressed as the native cultures in America or the Aborigines in Australia (if you know more about them). I need to get that right.

Finally, my books are often about “feelings” and “emotions”, more than a bunch of facts and descriptions of things and places, which makes research interesting from a different perspective. And for the first time, I feel I need to BE in that place before I write (or at least before I finish writing), to really get the feel for the place. And I can’t put my finger on it. Normally, a photo is enough to get me going, or sometimes even the memory of something similar. But this time, I feel oddly required to do research in situ.

In the end, writing is, like so many things, about making choices, and I am the one who has to live with the consequences of my choices. Long gone are the times of my first books, where I would just write away, consciously choose places that didn’t exist in reality (Jonathan’s Hope – although the sequel places it in Chicago, or The Opera House, playing out in a fictional American city) to be able to write away without having to take responsibility for reality. Maybe, after this research heavy book, I’ll return to phantasy land, and just write a book about a place that doesn’t exist, and let my imagination run free.

What do you think? As writers, how anal are you about getting things right in your books? As readers, how annoyed are you by factual inaccuracies in books? Be civil, but please, let’s talk!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful 2nd advent weekend,

Hans

#MondayBlogs: The new book is completely changing the way I write… #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

#MondayBlogs: The new book is completely changing the way I write… #amwriting #asmsg #LGBT

The new book is forcing me to write in ways I never have before, not just because of the research required

I had this weird epiphany the other day. It was Thursday afternoon, and I was deeply engrossed in my writing. I was approaching the 40K threshold, which – for what it’s worth – is as critical in my writing as the 30K one is. The new book I’m writing has me do things I haven’t done before, or maybe I just didn’t realize it. I was so deeply engrossed in the story that I had completely forgot where I was. I was totally absorbed by the plot and I was just about do submerge in the Indian Ocean when… “Boooh!”

This is Ammarnäs, where Nilas comes from. Photo: Wikipedia / Håkan Svensson

This is Ammarnäs, where Nilas comes from, in the new book, tentatively called The Pillow. I can’t wait to see this place for myself. Photo: Wikipedia / Håkan Svensson

My husband and son had come home, and because I was wearing my noise-cancelling headphones for a change, I hadn’t heard them. Sascha, still in his Halloween mode, came into the office to scare me. I f.l.e.w. from my office chair, and my heart stopped beating, that’s how bad it was. Not even Scotty could’ve transported me from a lagoon in the Maldives to Sweden as quickly as Sascha did. It took me minutes to find my bearings and calm my racing heart down.

Afterwards, I realized just how rare this instance had been in my writing of the new book. I was almost in a trance, writing like a dervish, feverish almost, thousands of words a day, I was literally in situ, on the scene, watching as my characters work themselves through the story. I’ve said this many times before, that I often feel like I’m the first person to read my own writing. Which means I was to first to cry when Jonathan died (the first time), or when Michel passed away in that infamous Paris scene. But I was also the first to see Haakon take a swim on his private island in the British Virgin Islands, and find out how he got there, and I was in the room when Jonathan got that massage from Marc… Or when Willem saw the stars, for the first time in his life. You get the drift.

But the new book is different. And I’m not blaming Nilas. He can’t help himself being Sami. As little as I can help myself not knowing much about that culture. And while spending time on Google Earth and Google Street View always has been a part of the journey, just watch this video when I had the chance to find out if my online research actually matched reality, in the new book, things are different. I often find myself having to do research for a single sentence. There was this one Holiday scene where I had to check what kind of electronic games were available to kids in the mid-nineties. I knew I had played with a handheld device when I was a child, but by 1994 I was all grown up, so what would they have played with? For ONE sentence.

This house is where Nilas lives in Gothenburg. If it is your house, take it as a compliment, but I've spent hours researching it, and no, I have not broken in... :) Screenshot from Google Street View.

This house is where Nilas lives in Gothenburg in the new book. If it is your house, take it as a compliment, but I’ve spent hours researching it, and no, I have not broken in… 🙂 Screenshot from Google Street View.

Now imagine an entire book like that. I had this idea that the polar lights would “sound”. I have no idea where I got that idea from, but I couldn’t very well put it in a book without making sure it was actually true. More research. However, there are a lot of things I don’t have the answers to yet, and there are many things I will need to research on site, which means traveling to Swedish Lapland. I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I’ll need to undertake that trip, and it’ll be one of the first things I do when we return from our Christmas vacation. Lapland in winter is very much different from things here, but I feel I have no choice. I HAVE to know, I have to find the answers. I owe that to Nilas, and to Casper, but also to my readers, and last not least, to myself. I’d hate to publish a book which isn’t factually accurate. If you want to learn more about my research, have a look at last week’s video from the Author Cave.

I’ve always done research for my writing, but the new book is pushing the envelope. The writing has been much more conscious, and the instances where I found myself in “the zone”, that amazing subconscious space where the writing just flows, and where I’m not aware of the writing aspect, have been much less frequent. At least initially. Maybe writing is like riding a bike, and after my long bout of writer’s block, I’ve finally mounted that bike again, only to find out that I can still do it?

If you’re a writer: have you had similar experiences? Has your writing process changed over time? Or is it dependent from the book, the storyline? Tell me, I’d love to hear more. For a pantser, this is a completely new experience… The new book is an education all by itself.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a good week.

Hans

PS: Yesterday saw the end of the first ever Big Gay Fiction Giveaway, and I’m impressed. What a huge success. I more than doubled the size of my mailing list! I’m now in the enviable position of having to pay for my newsletter… Oh well. I rather enjoy being in that position, tbh. Very few people unsubscribed after my initial welcome mail.

#Review: The Crown, the latest jewel in Netflix’s own production treasure #TV #asmsg

#Review: The Crown, the latest jewel in Netflix’s own production treasure #TV #asmsg

The Crown in one line: amazing acting, intriguing premise, beautiful scenography

I wrinkled my nose when I first saw the e-mail from Netflix announcing their latest home-brewed show: The Crown. I am no royalist, and I’m no fan of the British monarchy or its monarch. Quite the contrary. I never liked her. I belong to the generation who idolized Princess Diana, and who “hated” (strong word, but alas, it’s probably true) her evil mother-in-law. The “fact” that she’s a relative of mine, at least according to my paternal grandmother, who used to tell us long stories about our ties to the Windsors as kids, didn’t make things any better. I didn’t like her any better. Today, my views are slightly more balanced, but I’m still no fan of her. But to hold a grudge against an old woman wouldn’t be fair. Besides, there’s Elizabeth, the great-grandmother and Elizabeth, the Queen, two different beasts altogether.

Another great show available on Netflix. Don't miss The Crown

Another great show available on Netflix. Don’t miss The Crown.

So no, I really didn’t want to watch The Crown, but once we were done with season two of The Flash (my childhood hero, but a show who’s not as good as I’d hoped), and had watched the first season of The Last Kingdom (watch this one. Brutal but interesting), about the beginning of the England we know today, we decided to give it a go. I was hooked within minutes. It’s really the acting that drew me in. John Lithgow is playing the role of his life in my humble opinion, his Churchill is brilliant. Victoria Hamilton as the queen’s mother is amazing, and Vanessa Kirby as Margaret is sooo beautiful. One of my personal favorites is Eileen Atkins as Mary of Teck and of course the main character, Claire Foy as the queen. Matt Smith does a really good job at portraying what must be a really difficult character, prince Philip.

As a spectator from the outside, it’s not easy to separate fact from fiction, that’s probably the biggest challenge when you watch a show about people you’ve “known” for so many years. I remember growing up with all of them on TV, all the time. I watched Diana’s and Charles’s wedding live on TV, I remember the many funerals, scandals and divorces. We all have very strong opinions about the main characters. To watch a show about their “youth” was interesting, to say the least, and I’ve found myself spend more time on Wikipedia than ever before, checking facts while watching. Who were those private secretaries, what about the King, what about Edward, etc.

The Crown, the latest amazing production from Netflix. Image: (C) Netflix

The Crown, the latest amazing production from Netflix. Image: © Netflix, 2016

It’s difficult to say what the show tries to accomplish. Are they trying to justify Elizabeth II’s “non-human” antics or simply try to explain why the Windsors have become what I would consider the most loveless family in the western hemisphere, rivaled only by the North Korean dynasty? At times it seems that way, and at the end of the ten episodes I find myself almost “rooting” for Elizabeth. You feel pity for Philip, a man’s man (we’d call him a misogynist pig today) who finds it difficult to adjust to his role as #2. I feel strongly for Margaret and her Peter Townsend. It’s difficult to talk about spoilers here, since the show details historical events, but I was reminded of the fiction of it, when it is Townsend who gives the speech given by the “real” Margaret upon their separation. The time-line is also anything but chronological. Remember: this is fiction.

There are a few scenes that I’m still thinking back to, and that will stay with me for a long time:

  • When grandmother Mary of Teck tells her daughter that in a situation of conflict between Elizabeth Windsor and Elizabeth Regina, the Crown ALWAYS must prevail. That very conflict is the basis for the entire show.
  • The scene where Churchill has his portrait painted by Graham Sutherland, and he discusses the loss of a child with the painter during their final sitting. The “pond” scene is one of the strongest in the entire season.
  • The scene where Elizabeth’s tutor asks her about her education level. That was almost painful to watch.
  • Churchill’s interactions with Elizabeth, particularly after his stroke (the dress down) and his final audience. The changes are subtle, but each scene is very powerful in itself.
  • The phone call between the former king Edward and Elizabeth on the eve of her decision to deny Margaret her love marriage. Wow.
  • When the queen mother is in Scotland during Elizabeth’s first long commonwealth trip. Her breakdown during the dinner and later, when she’s about to buy a castle and is called back to London. The reaction from Captain Imbert-Terry and their short exchange is priceless.
  • Finally, the scene when Elizabeth and Philip return from their months (!) long tour of the commonwealth and Philip rushes to see Charles and Anne. Elizabeth watches but doesn’t even greet her kids. I found that difficult to watch.
  • Everybody’s constantly smoking. Incredible. There should be a warning label somewhere. LOL

As you can see, the scenes that stayed with me were all about the conflict of “human” vs. “office”, and that is really what the show is all about. Now it is fiction, based on historical events, and after a while you have to work really hard to not take things at face value. I’ve taken away a couple of things from all this: First of all, how brutal in inhumane a monarchy is, not just for the “subjects”, but also for the royals in their golden cages. Yes, they’re filthy rich, they get to travel the world in first class, wear the most beautiful clothes, eat the best food, drink the finest wines, but they also lose the most important human rights: the right to self-determination, the right to happiness.

If anything, this show has possibly made me an even more fervent republican. I cannot fathom how anyone could think it’s justifiable for any human being to completely give up their personal life on behalf of what? The other point is of course the parallels of the decaying British Empire, which is ongoing to this day. Change is the only constant, but when you look at the society depicted in The Crown, the stale court rules, from coronations to prime minister audiences to marriage rules, it becomes very clear why England is where it is today: lack of change. A country, a society so stale, so caught up in the past, stuck in a fantasy of what it was once, an illusion. The struggle between modernity, portrayed by Philip (oddly, given his misogyny) and Margaret, and tradition, portrayed brutally well by Tommy Lascelles, queen Mary and the queen mother makes for some of the best TV I’ve ever seen.

A word about the scenography of the show. To be transported back to the 1950s is intriguing, from the clothing, the lack of traffic, the constant smoking everywhere, this is a high quality production. Very well done. The camera work is exquisite. The contrast of the outdoor scenes of a relatively “poor” war-ridden nation where people die by the thousands from the London smog while the elites wine, dine and smoke is stark, but impressive, but what stayed with me the most is the landscapes, the beauty of the isle of Britain. The scenes in Scotland, near the castle of May, but also the scenes from Sandringham, Windsor etc. It’s a beautiful country, and the show really highlights that.

Finally: I love Netflix credits and their musical scores, and the opening of The Crown is as spectacular as ever, but dear Netflix, we’ve had the melting, running and staling on several shows now (e.g. Marco Polo, Daredevil), don’t you think it’s time to come up with something new? 😉 Just saying…

If you have Netflix and you haven’t watched this yet, I strongly recommend you do. Keep your phone nearby and google all the many colorful characters to update your historic knowledge of the era. It’s totally worth it. The acting is really wonderful, and every now and then, you simply see a face, the slightest twitch, an expression in the eyes, saying more than a thousand words ever could. Masterful! In the end, I was about to say “yeah, now I understand…” but that wouldn’t do reality justice. This is fiction after all, but the premise that the weight of The Crown wears down the humanity of the Windsors is certainly intriguing and worth pondering. It also shines a cruel and revealing light on what we often lovingly refer to as “time honored” traditions…

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a good weekend, and remember to show your family and loved ones just how important they are…

Hans

#MondayBlogs: The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is on until November 27 #amreading #LGBT #free #ebooks

#MondayBlogs: The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is on until November 27 #amreading #LGBT #free #ebooks

The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is the best thing that’s come to gay fiction all year!

Yeah, I know that I’m not a big fan of giving away my work for free, but even I am aware that marketing is necessary. I’m also one to help, and if I can help my readers, all the better. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is an amazing venture, and before I forget, I’d like to thank Mikael Jensen and Jeff Adams for organizing it. This is an incredible opportunity for readers to meet new authors, thanks to the ones they already read. Allow me to explain:

Don't miss this amazing opportunity. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway will be live until November 27.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway will be live until November 27.

Thanks to Jeff and Mikael, a good eighty (!) authors got together and set up this HUGE giveaway on Instafreebie of books for all of our readers. I’m in it with Jonathan’s Hope, one of my most popular titles. Now I presume that most of my readers and fans already read that book, so there’s nothing much to be gained for you from me, although, you never really know… But that isn’t really the point, that my readers discover me. Instead, you get to meet 80 other amazing authors. Some of my friends on that list are giving away their only title. Some are giving away a short story, some a chapter or two (you’ll know before you download what you get!)

No such thing as a free lunch you say? You’d be right. This is about marketing. Duh! It’s a chance for us to help each other reach new readers. We’ll expect you to subscribe to our newsletters, just the way you give away your click and browser history when you use all those free social media sites. The “cost” to download the book is to sign up to our respective newsletters. And since it’s through MailChimp, you can always unsubscribe again, although I would hope you give us a chance and read our newsletters, at least for a while. I only send mine once a month, and never in July, which means eleven e-mails a year, and I usually include a contest in mine with more chances to win books. But yeah, the unsubscribe button is always included.

This giveaway helps us to reach new audiences, because just like I’m beating the drums to get you excited about 80+ free books, so are the other 80+ authors: posts on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, images on Instagram, blog posts etc. Everywhere you’ll see us talk about the giveaway. So yeah, in a way, this is a total marketing plug, but you might as well see it as inspiration to do something similar. Does it work? Well, Saturday, since I’ve sent out my last newsletter last Thursday, I’ve already seen a 33% increase in audience for my newsletter. Needless to say, I’ve never had this many people subscribe to my newsletter before. It’s pretty amazing.

Now, if all of those people read Jonathan’s Hope, if half of those like it enough to give one of my other books a shot, that’s an amazing result. Mind you, we’re talking about ONE day, the week is still young. And from what I can see on Facebook, in the group where we discussed and prepared the giveaway, the numbers for the others are similar. So it’s all good. Win-win, as we say.

Are you interested yet? Well, there’s two places from where you can access the giveaway:

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http://michaeljensen.com/free-books/ or http://biggayfictionpodcast.com/giveaway/

Head on over and find your next new favorite author… Christmas came early this year!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week. And remember to love each other in these dark times…

Hans

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