Monday, 16 June 2014

MEET MY MAIN CHARACTER

Alex Shaw tagged me in the 'Meet My Main Character Blog Tour' so here's my entry.

1. Tell us a bit about your main character? Is he fictional or a historic person?
I did think about writing about Jimmy Dalton, but there’s enough of him out on the net. So, I would like to introduce you to a feller, that’s going to be around for a while, Private Investigator, Frank Ballard. He is fictional, a former Army Ranger sniper. He came home from Vietnam and kind of drifted into police work. His first assignment was vice, back in SF-PD, but he got kicked back into uniform when some dirt-bag pimp complained he'd roughed him up during a bust. He moved to New York, joined the force there, where he worked narcotics. The first week on the job he killed a dealer in a gunfight. He was shot in the back. The Review Team cleared him–he'd shot first and Frank nailed him going for the window.

He got a commendation, but they put him back on the beat. That was okay for a while. The people in the community knew him, they got along. He caught two guys coming out of a bodega, stocking masks over their heads, one had a shotgun. He cut them both down. Turned out one was thirteen years old. How was he supposed to know?
They sent him to the department shrink. Nice guy. Gave him a lot of tests, asked a lot of questions. Never said much.
The shrink's office was in Manhattan. The locks were a joke. He went back there one night and pulled his file. It made interesting reading. Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder, fundamental lack of empathy, blunted affect, addicted risk–taker.
He'd been a sniper in Nam, so they tried him on the SWAT Team. When he did what they hired him to do, they pulled him off the job. Took away his gun.
Then they gave him a choice. He could take early retirement, go out on disability. Emotionally unsuited to law enforcement, that kind of thing. He walked, and not long after that his wife and his kids walked too. Frank is one fucked up individual, he sees the world in blacks and whites with nothing in-between. When he gets something in his head he can’t let it go, so the bad guys better look out if PI Frank Ballard comes calling, ‘cause they’ll be going to hell, with a card from Frank saying ‘wish you were here

2. When and where are the stories set?
The stories are set in San Francisco and it’s environs, sometime in the 70’s, full of dames, guns and strange characters with names like Monk, Fast Eddie, and Jimmy the Dog.


3. What should we know about him?
He’s basically as screwed up as some of the people he goes after, most of the time he’s able to keep a handle on it. He sometimes acts without thinking of the consequences. In the early stories he will be okay, but as time goes by, some of the darkness within him will start to leak out.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Vietnam left him screwed up inside, his wife leaving him didn't help either. Also a lot of what he saw on his return, street pollution as he terms it, puts a dent in his world beliefs.

5. What is his personal goal?
To have a normal life, to be free of the darkness within him. To fix his broken smile.

6. What are the titles of your novels, and can we read more about them?
The Ballard stories will all be shorts, the first is appearing in the Woman’s Aid charity book, Shadows and Light, which will be out in July. The Ballard Files book 1 will be coming out around the same time. Each Ballard book will contain three or four stories.
7. When can we expect the next book to be published?
July 2014, and I’m hoping to get out about three or four before the end of the year.



Monday, 26 May 2014

A Call to Submission

I'm putting together a charity book, the money from sales will be going to Women's Aid. They are a key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. This is an open call to any and all writers who wish to help out by donating a story to the project. What I am looking for is not necessarily stories about DV, they can be in any genre with a word count between 2000 words to a maximum of 6000, although the longer the better. This is a project close to my heart, and I was looking for ways to raise some money for this charity. It hit me, why not do a book, and so here we are. As yet I don't have a title, I will wait until the stories come in and I have chosen the ones to be included.
If you are interested please send submissions to scorah25@gmail.com. Submissions open until 25th July
While you will not be paid for the story, you will be helping a most worthy cause, and will get more coverage for your name, free advertising is always good. Title to be confirmed at a later date.
Attach it as a word file, and neatly formatted 12 point roman text, line spacing exactly 12 point, justified, with correct indents at first line 0.3.
Here is a little information to help you understand what domestic violence is and who it affects. This is taken from  Women's Aid website

 What is domestic violence?

Women's Aid uses the Home Office definition of domestic violence which is: 

"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
psychological
physical
sexual
financial
emotional
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”*
*This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
 Does domestic violence only happen in certain cultures or classes?
 Research shows that domestic violence is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. Any woman can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle.

Domestic violence can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships, and can involve other family members, including children.
 Why does it happen?

All forms of domestic violence - psychological, economic, emotional and physical - come from the abuser's desire for power and control over other family members or intimate partners. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved.

 What are the signs of domestic violence?
  • Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening
  • Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
  • Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people, not listening or responding when you talk, interrupting your telephone calls, taking money from your purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Breaking trust: lying to you, withholding information from you, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.
  • Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.
  • Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.
  • Threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.
  • Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
  • Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.
  • Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.





Is it a crime?

Domestic violence may comprise a number of different behaviours and consequences, so there is no single criminal offence of “domestic violence”.  However, many forms of domestic violence are crimes – for example, harassment, assault, criminal damage, attempted murder, rape and false imprisonment.  Being assaulted, sexually abused, threatened or harassed by a partner or family member is just as much a crime as violence from a stranger, and often more dangerous.

Successful prosecutions for domestic violence cases rose from 46% (of all cases brought before the courts) in a December 2003 'snapshot' to 65% during the whole of 2006-07.
Not all forms of domestic violence are illegal, however; for example, some forms of emotional abuse are not defied as crimes. Nevertheless, these types of violence can also have a serious and lasting impact on a woman’s or child’s sense well-being and autonomy.


What is the cost of domestic violence?

The estimated total cost of domestic violence to society in monetary terms is £23 billion per annum. This figure includes an estimated £3.1 billion as the cost to the state and £1.3 billion as the cost to employers and human suffering cost of £17 billion. (Walby 2004). The estimated total cost is based on the following:
  • The cost to the criminal justice system is £1 billion per annum. (This represents one quarter of the criminal justice budget for violent crime including the cost of homicide to adult women annually of £112 million).
  • The cost of physical healthcare treatment resulting from domestic violence, (including hospital, GP, ambulance, prescriptions) is £1,220,247,000, i.e. 3% of total NHS budget
  • The cost of treating mental illness and distress due to domestic violence is £176,000,000
  • The cost to the social services is £0.25 billion
  • Housing costs are estimated at £0.16 billion
  • The cost of civil legal services due to domestic violence is £0.3billion.
The statistics collated by Walby above are recognised as an under-estimate because public services don't collect information on the extent to which their services are used as a result of domestic violence. The research doesn't include costs to those areas for which it was difficult to collect any baseline information - for example cost to social services work with vulnerable adults, cost to education services, the human cost to children (including moving schools and the impact this has on their education), and it excludes the cost of therapeutic and other support within the voluntary sector.
 The cost of domestic homicide is estimated by the Home Office at over one million pounds: a total of £1, 097, 330 for each death, or £112 million per year.



How Common is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is very common.  Research shows that it can affect one in four women in their lifetimes, regardless of age, social class, race, disability or lifestyle. Domestic violence accounts for between 16% and one quarter of all recorded violent crime.  In any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical violence or threats of violence against women from partners or former partners.  (Home Office, 2004; Dodd et al., 2004; Dobash and Dobash, 1980; Walby and Allen, 2004) Also view a summary which states the number of women and children who use a domestic violence service on a typical day in England.

Saturday, 11 January 2014



THE OMEGA SANCTION
THE SPARK OF AN IDEA



Most good story ideas start with a ‘what if.’ This was the same with Omega. What if Area 51 was taken over by a hostile force, this was how the thought process started. Why would they do this? What do they want? I did not want to go down the usual UFO/aliens route, or have the hostile force be the usual suspects-Al Queda.
Now, I thought there have not been any Nazi bad guys for awhile, I decided they would be the hostile force. The grandchildren of the Third Reich, going under the name, Geheime Staat-Secret State. In my book, all the high ranking officers and officials from Adolf Hitler down secretly had children, who were spirited away to a secret location, to be brought up in the ideals and philosophy of the Nazi party. They were to be a continuation of the Reich if they lost the war.
These children of monsters had children of their own, they all so wormed their way into the institutions of the new world that came into being at the end of the war, quietly manipulating in the back ground. The children’s children were trained to be soldiers, and when the time was right they made their move, a hostile takeover of Area 51.


For those who don’t know or have not heard of Area 51, here’s a little bit about the place, taken from Wikipedia.
Area 51, also officially known as Groom Lake or Homey Airport is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the correct names for the Area 51 facility are the Nevada Test and Training Range and Groom Lake, though the name Area 51 has been used in official CIA documentation. Other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, and most recently Homey Airport. The area around the field is referred to as (R-4808N).

It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large military airfield. The base's current primary purpose is officially undetermined; however, based on historical evidence, it most likely supports development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. The intense secrecy surrounding the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. Although the base has never been declared a secret base, all research and occurrings in Area 51 are Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). In July 2013, following a FOIA request filed in 2005, the Central Intelligence Agency publicly acknowledged the existence of the base for the first time by declassifying documents detailing the history and purpose of Area 51.

The original rectangular base of 6 by 10 miles (9.7 by 16 km) is now part of the so-called "Groom box", a rectangular area measuring 23 by 25 miles (37 by 40 km), of restricted airspace. The area is connected to the internal Nevada Test Site (NTS) road network, with paved roads leading south to Mercury and west to Yucca Flat. Leading northeast from the lake, the wide and well-maintained Groom Lake Road runs through a pass in the Jumbled Hills. The road formerly led to mines in the Groom basin, but has been improved since their closure. Its winding course runs past a security checkpoint, but the restricted area around the base extends further east. After leaving the restricted area, Groom Lake Road descends eastward to the floor of the Tikaboo Valley, passing the dirt-road entrances to several small ranches, before converging with State Route 375, the "Extraterrestrial Highway", south of Rachel.

Area 51 shares a border with the Yucca Flat region of the Nevada Test Site, the location of 739 of the 928 nuclear tests conducted by the United States Department of Energy at NTS. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository is 44 miles (71 km) southwest of Groom Lake.

 The Groom Lake test facility was established by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for Project Aquatone, the development of the Lockheed U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft in April 1955.

As part of the project, the director, Richard M. Bissell, Jr., understood that, given the extreme secrecy enveloping the project, the flight test and pilot training programs could not be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base or Lockheed's Palmdale facility. A search for a suitable testing site for the U-2 was conducted under the same extreme security as the rest of the project.

He notified Lockheed, who sent an inspection team out to Groom Lake. According to Lockheed's U-2 designer Kelly Johnson:

   “ ... We flew over it and within thirty seconds, you knew that was the place ... it was right by a dry lake. Man alive, we looked at that lake, and we all looked at each other. It was another Edwards, so we wheeled around, landed on that lake, taxied up to one end of it. It was a perfect natural landing field ... as smooth as a billiard table without anything being done to it". Johnson used a compass to lay out the direction of the first runway. The place was called "Groom Lake”.

The lakebed made an ideal strip from which they could test aircraft, and the Emigrant Valley's mountain ranges and the NTS perimeter, about 100 miles north of Las Vegas, protected the test site from visitors.[24] The CIA asked the AEC to acquire the land, designated "Area 51" on the map, and add it to the Nevada Test Site.

Johnson named the area "Paradise Ranch" to encourage workers to move to a place that the CIA's official history of the U-2 project would later describe as "the new facility in the middle of nowhere"; the name became shortened to "the Ranch". On 4 May 1955, a survey team arrived at Groom Lake and laid out a 5,000-foot (1,500 m), north-south runway on the southwest corner of the lakebed and designated a site for a base support facility. "The Ranch", also known as Site II, initially consisted of little more than a few shelters, workshops and trailer homes in which to house its small team. In a little over three months, the base consisted of a single, paved runway, three hangars, a control tower, and rudimentary accommodations for test personnel. The base's few amenities included a movie theatre and volleyball court. Additionally, there was a mess hall, several water wells, and fuel storage tanks. By July 1955, CIA, Air Force, and Lockheed personnel began arriving. The Ranch received its first U-2 delivery on 24 July 1955 from Burbank on a C-124 Globemaster II cargo plane, accompanied by Lockheed technicians on a Douglas DC-3. Regular Military Air Transport Service flights were set up between Area 51 and Lockheed's Burbank, California offices. To preserve secrecy, personnel flew to Nevada on Monday mornings and returned to California on Friday evenings.



Next, I needed a reason for them to take over the base. More research brought to light something called,  Die Glocke, German for the bell.

The Bell is said be an experiment carried out by Third Reich SS scientists working in the German facility Der Riese (The Giant) near Wenceslaus mine. The mine is located 50 kilometers away from Breslau a little north village of Ludwikowice KĹ‚odzkie (formerly known as Ludwigsdorf) close to Czech border. Cook and Witkowski visited the  site for the UK Channel 4 documentary UFOs: the Hidden Evidence (aka An Alien History of Planet Earth).

The device is described as metallic, approximately 9 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet high with a shape similar to a bell. It contained two counter-rotating cylinders filled with a substance similar to Mercury that glowed violet when activated, known only as Xerum 525 it has been speculated to be Red mercury. When active, The Bell would emit strong radiation, which led to the death of several scientists[6] and various plant and animal test subjects.

According to Igor Witkowski, the Polish aerospace historian who researched this craft for 20 years and was interviewed for the Discovery Channel documentary Nazi UFO Conspiracy, "...The external appearance... was such that it was [a] ceramic cover, bell shaped, which housed a kind of core or axis, around which rotated two cylinders, around the axis in opposite rotation. And after connecting to high-voltage current, the cylinders start spinning in opposite directions... Everything suggests.. it could have been a way to master gravity."

The Bell was considered so important to the Nazis that they killed 60 scientists that worked on the project and buried them in a mass grave and the only reason we know about the Bell is that the SS General that was tasked with the murders, Jakob Sporrenberg, was tried after the war by a Polish War Crimes court for murdering his own people on what subsequently became Polish soil. So it's his Affidavit that gives us the story of the Bell.

What might have happened to The Bell, had it existed, were it to have been evacuated out of Germany is unknown, however there has been some speculation: Witkowski speculated that it ended up in a Nazi-friendly South American country, Cook speculated that it ended up in the United States as part of a deal made with SS General Hans Kammler and Farrell speculated that it did not reach the United States until it was recovered in the Kecksburg UFO incident.

While the purpose of The Bell is unknown, there is a wide range of speculation from anti-gravity to time travel.

Jan Van Helsing claims in his book Secret Societies that, in a meeting that was attended by the members of various secret orders (Vril Gesellschaft, Thule Society, SS elite of Black Sun) and two mediums, technical data for the construction of a flying machine was gathered along with the messages that were said to have come from the solar system Aldebaran.

One of Cook's scientist contacts in The Hunt for Zero Point, was a "Dr. Dan Marckus". (Cook states in his book that he has "blurred" Marckus' name and that he is "an eminent scientist attached to the physics department of one of Britain's best-known universities"). Dr. Marckus claimed that The Bell was a torsion field generator and that the SS scientists were attempting to build some sort of time machine with it.

The original claims about the existence of the experiment were spread by Igor Witkowski, who claimed to have discovered the existence of the project after seeing secret transcripts of an interrogation by the KGB of SS General Jakob Sporrenberg.

According to Witkowski, he was shown some classified files in August 1997 by a Polish intelligence officer (whose identity Witkowski keeps confidential), who had access to Polish government documents regarding Nazi secret weapons. This officer unveiled to him for the first time the details of the testimony of SS Officer Jakob Sporrenberg, who provided details of this secret sub-program during a questioning by Polish military officials in 1950/51, when he was imprisoned in Poland. Witkowski provides lavish details of this in his book The Truth about the Wunderwaffe. Although no evidence of the veracity of Witkowski's claims have ever been produced, these claims reached a wider audience when they were used by British author Nick Cook in his popular non-fiction book The Hunt for Zero Point.

The origin, and only evidence of the story, lies solely on Witkowski's testimony of seeing secret transcripts of Sporrenberg's interrogation and his comments on it. These documents have never been made public and Witkowski claims that he was only allowed to transcribe them and was not allowed to make any copies. No other evidence has come to light.

I decided the bell started life as an energy weapon but after an accident in the testing phase the Nazi scientists working on the device discovered it could harness the power of time travel, Dr Hans Kammler uses it to escape the advancing Russian and American forces, arriving in Kecksburg,  Pennsylvania, USA, in 1965. 
After unsuccessfully trying to make the device work, thay could not replicate the fuel to drive it, something called Xerum 525, the device is packed away in storage deep under the Area 51 base. Geheime Staat know how to use it, they want to go back in time, specifically to the bunker under The Reichstag in the last days of the war. 
Pitted against them are Omega, a multinational autonomous team of scientists and soldiers who handle situations outside the purview of  conventional forces. The book is a wild roller-coaster ride of action and adventure. Totally different to all my other work, both in tone and style.
Why do they want to go back? Will Omega be able to stop them? Will their be Jaffa cakes? And will their be copious amounts of Jack Daniels consumed by our heroes? The answers to these questions and many more will all be revealed soon. Stay tuned for further information on publication dates.