Asides

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Solomonic Decorations – Owain Raw-Rees #Preview #Collectibles

Preview Solomonic Decorations - Owain<br> Raw-Rees

This book is neither a history of Ethiopia nor a series of biographies of the rulers described – such has been more properly attended to by more qualified persons elsewhere. My role has been that of an antiquarian – a person who studies or collects old and valuable or rare objects. I have not directly accessed any primary sources, but I have had the good fortune, often online, to be able to refer to a wealth of published material – articles, collections, biographies, histories, studies, reports and websites from which I have been able to extract and collect the many references to the Order of the Seal of Solomon.
From Emperor Tewodros II and the siege of Magdala, through the reigns of Yohannes IV, Menelik II, Iyasu, Zawditu and Haile Selassie I, this book traces the origins of the Order of the Seal of Solomon and its development into the premier award of the nation. Profusely illustrated with colour and black and white images, this 200 page hardback book is a definitive record of the Order. Also included are informative appendices concerning the origins of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia, and details of the Imperial Family Order and the Order of Negus Mikael.

About the author
Owain Raw-Rees was born in 1959 in Aberystwyth, Wales, UK, educated at Christ College, Brecon and read theology at Worcester College, Oxford. Subsequently he was commissioned into the Royal Welch Fusiliers. On leaving the Army he pursued a career in insurance and lived in the Middle East from 1989 until retirement in 2019.
Since 1993 he has been a regular contributor to the Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS) of Great Britain and to Miniature Medals World (MMW) – an OMRS Journal Prize and two Commendations and also two MMW Literary Awards and has contributed to the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) – ten OMSA Literary Medals. He is also regular exhibitor at the annual OMRS Conventions and has been awarded ten Exhibitor Medals – including four gold medals. In recognition of his research work he was awarded the Qu’aiti Sultanate Order of Distinction, 2000, and appointed a Member of the Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia by the Crown Council of Ethiopia, 2018. Through long involvement with the Association of Round Tables Arabian Gulf he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association.

AI Solomonic Decorations - Owain Raw-Rees

To purchase a paper copy of the book, click on the image below.

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Jane Lockyer Willis appreciation

Jane Lockyer Willis

Jane is for me the quintessential English lady. Her stories evoke an England of yester year infused with a gentle and often unexpected humour.

Her collection of short stories – Tea at the Opalaco – is a fine example. Jane has also published two short novels with TSL – Guys and Ghosts, set in an English village involving the pub and church. Her On the Fiddle takes us to another village setting where the manor house becomes the main focus of two petty thieves.

Prose writing is a hobby or sideline for Jane. Her main focus is theatre. She, with Melville Lovatt, was with New Theatre Company. Now her plays are available through a number of publishers – best to check her website. She has also had East Lane Theatre Club perform her work – Cocoa and Cuddles being the one we saw back in 2020. A multi-talented person, she also performs and paints. In earlier life she was a speech trainer.

If you’re looking for a tea-tme companion read, I recommend picking up one of Jane’s books.

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Beatrice Holloway appreciation

Beatrice Holloway

Beatrice Holloway joined TSL in its early-ish days. Some of her books had already been published but for various reasons, they were unable to re-issue. TSL therefore undertook to re-publish her work. The first books were about the adventures of Rhys, a young lad growing up in Wales. These stories captured much of the experience Beatrice’s husband John had told her about his childood. Since the re-issue of the first three Rhys books, Beatrice has gone on to write a range of other Rhys books – going to high school and more recently getting a girl friend.
Between these, TSL also re-published Beatrice’s Tow Path series – three books about life on a canal or narrow boat. For a good number of years, Beatrice was the official story-teller of the Hertfordshire Narrow Boat Association. She could be found on board most weekends telling historical stories to the young people on board.
As another string to her writing repertoire, Beatrice also has a number of plays published, including a collection for young people.
These all encapsulate Beatrice’s life as a teacher, guiding young people through life using stories and the creative process.
Despite getting on in years, Beatrice has continued to write, expanding her horizons. A non-fiction book on Christmas, the myths, feasts and other aspects of the season being discussed. This short book which has been well-received is an imsightful and informative read. A collection of pieces, short stories and excerpts, some previously published, others not, takes the reader on a writer’s journey – an interesting read, if not enthralling. Most recently, short stories (Duke’s Heartbreak and other stories) and a collection of poetry (The Promise), some of which won awards in local publications. These two publications are Beatrice in top form.
However, it’s her three novels that stand out most for me – they differ widely from each other, take a quirky look at life and stimulate the brain. I fully recommend A Man from the North East, Elusive Destiny and Archie’s Children. Some of the themes in these novels resonate in her scripts (historical – From Commoner to Coronet; family relations – Connie’s Lovely Boy; other worldy – A certain Monday, Governed by Magpies).
Through all these publications, Beatrice has remained a pillar of calm and a source of balanced perspective – not only to me but a number of TSL authors who either were already with TSL or who came to TSL because of her. Long may our relationship continue – I have much still to learn from this remarkable lady – who, by the way, also dabbles with art.

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Christopher X Morris appreciation

Christopher X Morris

Trust is a hard hitting dark play. It shows what lengths someone in an abusive relationship can do to break free.

As Chrisopher said in his fundraising blurb for the production – its aim is to let people in such relationships know they are not alone.

Christopher is a very private person. You won’t find much about him on line other than what is in the TSL bio for him, so sadly I can’t point you to his other productions or even give you an idea of what they entail. This is a pity because if Trust is anything to go by, he’s an audacious writer prepared to tackle difficult themes.

While I might not have gone to watch Trust (it was performed in New York where Chrisopher is based), it certainly did grab, and hold onto, me whilst I was preparing it for publication. All credit to Christopher for sticking his head out to get the play written, produced and published – it received an accolade at the NY Summerfest in 2018 for creativity – just a pity this hasn’t translated into greater recognition for either the script or Christopher, evidence of how tough it is out there to be heard…

Mark Brookes’ POET’s Day, part of the Crane Trilogy is another hard-hitting play, dealing with issues few want to see on screen. TSL worked with Mark on this back in 2016/7.

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Megan Carter appreciation

Megan Carter

Megan is another of TSL’s quiet authors. Social media and other such things are not her strength.
She prefers being with people and is quite community focused evidenced by the author sales of her poetry collection Amazing Grace.
If you are looking for a reflective read of a Christian or spiritual nature, why not give Megan’s book a read?

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Ray Wooster appreciation

Ray Wooster

Ray Wooster is another of TSL’s early authors, also with a link to Harrow Writers’ Circle of which he was President when we met. Ray is also one of our authors who never typed his own stories, had a computer or engaged with social media. Ray has a very supportive family who helped with the typing and getting his texts to me.

Ray, at the time of writing this appreciation has dementia, but before this I could always rely on his quirky take on life cheering up my day. With his first royalty payment (he dealt with cheques), he gleefully told me he bought a Jaguar car – a Dinkie toy!

Ray was encouraged by his family to write his many stories down. He was a great story teller. This culminated in his trilogy since put into one book called A Boy’s War Journal. It’s essentially a what if Germany invaded London during WW2. Ray uses this scenario to set many of his own experiences of growing up in London during and after the war. Frustratingly, Ray is one of those authors who do not see a need for multiple edits of a text, not surprisingly given his school background. This put a fair bit of pressure on the editing process and although the book remains unpolished, it is a good ripping yarn – as told by Ray.
For many years, it was also one of TSL’s best sellers… Ray had a knack of getting people to buy his book without resorting to social media but he would never divulge his secret! Feedback on the book has generally been positive.

Ray’s next most popular books have been the short memoir series covering his life in the 30s and 40s, And the Baby Came Too, followed by Australia OAP Gap Year.

Less successful only in terms of sales but another good read is his Aunt Jane. Ray conceived the idea of Commuter books which we trialled – shortish stories to read on the bus or tube… he did his research first to work out demand etc, but the people he consulted, similar to himself do not purchase books in the modern way… I do recommend Aunt Jane.

Another venture was The Miller’s Boy, we ended up changing the title from Human Bondage (that’s still the title of the ebook though) as modern readers didn’t quite get the different meaning of the word ‘bondage’ – Ray’s story is historical fiction, telling the tale of a family sold into bondage to repay a debt. Another story I enjoyed reading.

Finally, there’s Michael’s Magic Motor Car – a children’s book of adventure. Another bit of fun – and a grandad features too…

If you’re after beautiful writing and prose, Ray is not the author for you. But if you’re after a good old story, well told about life in the early to mid-twentieth century, give Ray a chance.

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Anna Ryland appreciation

Anna Ryland

Anna joined TSL near the beginning of our publishing journey, following a meeting with another writing group.

In bringing A Second Chance to print, Anna and I spent quite a bit of time going through already published books to get a feel for what we hoped would be the best font (readability and size) for her book to get the best balance with cost. TSL had started with the idea of a house font but it soon became apparent that this did not suit all books. It’s difficult to articulate but a story seems to come to light better if it has an approriate font – as I work with a book, it’s almost as though the story guides the asthetic too. Working with Anna on A Second Chance provided a valuable space to explore this aspect of publishing.

A Second Chance is a fairly long read by current publishing trends but that does not detract from the story – it would have lost too much of its essence had it been shortened. Often new authors ask how long a book should be – TSL’s answer: as long as it needs to be. A story needs to run its course. This doesn’t mean no editing or reworking, that definitely needs to happen, it simply allows an author the freedom to focus on the story and their writing.

A Second Chance is full of life encounters many of us would recognise, especially moving into a new and alien environment. While set in London before Britain joined the EU, the issues raised were just as pertinent for new emigrants during the EU years and most likely resonate even more in the current post-Brexit world. The protagonists in A Second Chance face similar challenges many of us do in strange new places, encountering people who are out to exploit others, some who are keen to help, others who hesitate to commit or trust and so forth.

My take on A Second Chance might appear too philosophical or analytical – don’t let that put you off. A Second Chance was for me a pleasure to read, it took me on a journey with all the necessary bumps and curves one would expect. Read it simply as a good urban adventure story of people adjusting to new lifestyles or for a reflection on society then and now. It’s up to you – I know I apreciate writing that works on muliple levels. And in the process you can learn a word or two of Polish.

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Melville Lovatt appreciation

Melville Lovatt

It is thanks to Melville Lovatt that TSL started the TSL Drama imprint. At the time he was with the now-closed Harrow Writers’ Circle and at one of our input sessions, liked the look and quality of our printed books (thanks lulu.com). In addition, the script company he was with, New Theatre Company, had decided to close after the death of one of the partners. The other major influencer was that TSL’s ethos seemed to mirror that of New Theatre Company. It’s good to know there are (and have been) others out there with similar views.

As a result, TSL has published Melville’s catalogue of scripts which include monologues, one act and full length plays as well as more recently poetry. A number of his pieces have won prizes as you’ll see on his TSL bio page and some of the book covers. One of the things I found, especially with Melville’s monologues, are that his character voices come to life in ways not all writers manage. It’s rare (at least in my experience) that one hears a distinct and different voice whilst reading through his work. Melville is a keen observer of situations which comes across in his scripts and poetry – he captures an essence of what I see as English life in much of his work, and on occasion has played around with different takes on the same event as seen in two of his scripts: The Lamp and Small Mercies.

Moving into the world of drama and theatre has been a journey for TSL especially as it’s not the major focus of the company nor its directors – who can only claim to have regularly attended alternative (and protest) theatre back in the day in South Africa with the odd audience excursion into theatres in the UK. Theatre is a tough world to break into – it’s mainly down to the script writer developing relationships with potential directors and theatre group creative decision makers and this requires tenacity. It also requires the script writer to know when best to have their script published as not all theatres like to work with material which is ‘already out there’. The network is also important and thanks to Melville, TSL has links with Player Playwrights which meet in Kilburn, London, and more recently through extended networks has made links with London Playwrights (watch this space…)

Due to Melville’s tenancity and involvement in the world of theatre, a few of his plays have been performed, most notably by East Lane Theatre Club, London. See his bio for other performance venues.