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A Time of Gifts

Our recent visit to Crete was memorable in many ways and far different from the normal holiday experience. Part of our time there was spent in promoting The Fountain of Daphne, the most recent title in my Greek Island Romance series. For those who are unfamiliar with the background to this book, all royalties earned from sales in either paperback or eBook format will go directly to ELEPAP in Chania, the rehabilitation and therapy centre for disabled children through to adulthood.

The promotional work, which included an interview and full-page spread published in Xaniotika Nea the local newspaper, was most rewarding. However, the greatest reward for us came on the final day of our stay. We were visited by Maggie, the centre manager, and Ariadni, chairperson of the parents association, whose purpose was to deliver ‘something’. We had no idea what that might be, and certainly nothing could have prepared us for the surprise they had in store for us when they presented us with two wonderful gifts.

Val’s came in the form of a unique charm manufactured by the renowned jeweller Zolotas. It is the symbol of the beautiful goddess Calypso, decorated with waves from the sea and the constellation Ursa Major. The charm depicts Calypso’s unstinting generosity when she released Odysseus and provided help and guidance for his voyage from Ogygia to Ithaca and reunion with his devoted wife Penelope.

At the same time, I was presented with the medal you can see in the photograph. The facing side is inscribed ‘ELEPAP, steps forward for the child with disability.’ The reverse reads: ‘The treasures of ELEPAP: Acceptance: Co-operation: Equality and Love.’

It is fair to say that I could not have felt prouder than any Olympian standing on a rostrum when I was given this medal. Quite simply, it is undoubtedly the most precious gift I have ever received. I’m not referring to the monetary value, which is immaterial, but as a symbol of what it represents means I will treasure both the gift and the sentiment always.

It’s all Greek to me!

As I pack my bags before heading to Crete there is an extra item on the holiday agenda – one I am really looking forward to with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

Plans are being made for me to be interviewed on local radio and by the Chania newspaper. Oh how I now wish I’d spared the time and effort to improve my limited Greek linguistic ability. I hope there’s an interpreter to hand!

I often see and hear of authors talking about their work in the British media, but I guess there cannot be many instances of an English novelist appearing on Cretan radio or in their press.

The reason of course is The Fountain of Daphne where all the royalties from either paperback or download will be paid directly to ELEPAP, a wonderful charity that helps disabled children through to adulthood in Greece. All the details are on my earlier blog ‘George’.

Now that the book is available, the management team at ELEPAP and I are doing our utmost to spread the word and I plan to give as much of my time in Crete over to them as required. In the midst of all this, there will still be the opportunity for a holiday when my alter ego, William Gordon, often appears and writes another of my Greek Island Romances. But he’ll be lucky … I’m in the middle of another DI Mike Nash thriller.

Now back to the packing. Where did I leave my Greek dictionary??

Start spreading the news….

Thanks to the Scarborough Review for carrying the article. 

With Government funding cut, ELEPAP, the charity in Crete that provides much needed rehabilitation and therapy for disabled children and young adults, needs our help. So all royalties from The Fountain of Daphne, the latest of my Greek Island Romances, are going directly to this worthy cause. The more sales, the more we can all help.

You don’t even have to read it!

Simply downloading the digital version, buying the paperback, if that’s your preference, or reading from the Kindle owners’ lending library will contribute.

Thank you

After the first week of The Fountain of Daphne being available, I want to thank all of you for spreading the word about ELEPAP – Rehabilitation for the disabled, in Chania, Crete. The royalties from this title are all going directly to ELEPAP and although the digital version is available to pre-order for 11th March, I have released the paperback early.

Lets all try to keep the momentum going and together we can really make a difference for these youngsters where the government funding has been cut due to the countries economic problems. If you read my earlier blog ‘George’, I think you will appreciate the achievements and dedication of the team at ELEPAP.

The Secret is Out!

Having teased my readers for months, I can now reveal exactly what I’ve been up to. You may recall my blog ‘George’ back in October and my intention to help ELEPAP – Rehabilitation for the disabled in Chania Crete. Well, here’s how I’m going to do it.

Many of you are aware that in addition to my crime books I also write Greek Island Romances under the pen name William Gordon.

The next title, The Fountain of Daphne, will be released on 11th March and all royalties from the sales in either digital or paperback format will go directly to ELEPAP. With cuts in government funding due to the economy and more reliant on donations, I want to repay the kindness and hospitality the Cretans have shown to me and my wife Val during our many holidays on their beautiful island. I’ve helped charities at home, so why not?

fountain-of-daphne

It hasn’t been easy but at last we’ve succeeded and the digital version is available to pre-order on Amazon at £1.99 (€2.99).

The paperback will launch on the same date at £5.99 (€7.00).

So please spread the word as far and wide as you can.

 

The Plot Thickens

Another year is nearly over and what an unusual one it’s been for me. Regular readers of my blog will know of the events of this past year, the highs and the lows. However, this time of the year is for looking forward. I’ve been hinting that something special connected to the Greek charity ELEPAP was in the pipeline – and there it shall remain for the moment. But, as a further clue, here you can see the cover for my next Greek Island Romance The Fountain of Daphne written by my alter ego, William Gordon.

fountain-of-daphne

As to why it’s special – then I’ll tell you next year!

In the meantime, I’d like to wish all my readers and friends a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

‘George’

I have been going to Crete on holiday for the past twenty years, and during that time I have witnessed some memorable events, met many fascinating people, and forged some enduring and precious friendships with both regular visitors and locals alike. I have also enjoyed wonderful hospitality, terrific weather and superb food.

Manager Maggie.

Chania Manager Maggie.

However, everything I have previously experienced pales into insignificance when compared to a visit I paid to a small building on the outskirts of Chania in northern Crete. Two days before the end of my most recent stay in October of this year, I was invited to accompany the Chania manager, Maggie, to see for myself the working of ELEPAP, a charity for disabled children and adults. There, amongst many other emotion-stirring moments, I was privileged to be introduced to ‘George’.

This is his story, and the story of the people surrounding him.

***

‘George’ is from Chania. He was born when his mother was only twenty-four weeks pregnant. At birth he weighed a mere eight hundred grams; that’s 1 lb 12 ozs for those used to imperial weights. His parents were warned that he was unlikely to survive, and even if he did so, he would be unable to see, to hear, to speak, or to walk.

Thanks to the magnificent work of the professionals whose caring attention has to be witnessed to be truly appreciated, ‘George’ is now learning to walk. When I met him he was watching his reflection in the mirror (yes, he can see – with the aid of glasses) whilst receiving instruction from his therapist (yes, he can hear). When she asked ‘George’ to recite the alphabet he did so, with confidence (yes, he can talk). He then began to count for her.

I’m not sure which is the most astonishing part of this story, the fact that he has confounded the experts not once but four times, or the fact that when he was reciting he was doing so in English, not Greek – or simply the fact that ‘George’ has not yet celebrated his third birthday.

(George is not his real name, but one that I chose in order to protect his identity. Everything you read has been approved by his mother before publication.)

***

‘George’, along with many other disabled children, visits ELEPAP on a regular basis. There, a team of dedicated and highly professional therapists, backed by volunteer workers, provide a range of treatments to enhance the lives of youngsters through to adulthood born with physical or neurological impairment.

These sessions range from basic physiotherapy, to neurological development, hydrotherapy, speech therapy and many, many, more therapies in a tailor-made program for each child, regularly amended following ongoing assessment of their needs.

I was honoured to be invited to see the classes being held, and apart from marvelling at the wonderful way the children, some of them not much more than babies, face up to and deal with their disadvantages, my most abiding memory is their cheerful greeting to a complete stranger and their happy, smiling faces.

Maggie knows!

          Maggie knows!

The charity needs help. Government funding has been cut following Greece’s economic crisis. So I’m going to do something – and it involves you. But you’ll have to wait to find out what.

If you want to read more about the charity follow this link: http://www.elepap.gr/en/

I’m Back

In case you’ve missed me, I, or should I say ‘we’, have been to Crete again. Some of you will be aware that my alter ego, William Gordon, generally accompanies us and researches for his next Greek Island Romance which he invariably starts whilst staring out to sea from the terrace. However, this time it was different.

When we arrived we spent five days on the north of the island getting acclimatized and researching before 20161018_124144travelling on to the fishing village where we stay. It was while we were in the village that I had a conversation with a local resident about my books and she made a request. The result involved a meeting during our homeward journey. What that request was, I afraid you’re going to have to wait to hear, but rest assured, when this comes to fruition it will be the most worthwhile thing I could have done. I’ll give you a clue …… check out the photo!

What’s in a name?

As an author I’m always seeking appropriate names for characters. That must be easy you say, but it isn’t. How often do you make an assumption about a person when you hear a name prior to meeting them? It’s the same when characterizing, ensuring the name applies can be difficult; sometimes just finding a name can be tricky.

Several years ago I arrived at a black-tie dinner with a copy of my latest book as a raffle prize, only to discover there was to be an auction of some very high-value donations, not quite the situation I had imagined. With some quick thinking, the prize was changed to not only the signed copy but the offer of being named as a character in my next book, raising several hundred pounds. I now get requests from other fund raising events to apply the same – and it’s great fun.

The Haunted LadyMy latest Eden House Mystery, The Haunted Lady, aided two worthwhile causes, a community based charity and also junior cricket, something I’ve been involved with for many years. I shall be attending an ‘end of season’ cricket meeting in a couple of weeks to present a copy of the book to the donor. Following that, I shall be off to my Greek hideaway, seeking inspiration for another of my Greek Island romances, people watching and listening out for names.

Wedding, Weeding and Writing

Giving Wen away 3

When I said I was going to ‘give away’ my stepdaughter at her wedding, I didn’t realize that this would be the start of a very busy time. At the beginning of July, not only was the bride beautiful and the wedding wonderful, but I gained a great son-in-law and another granddaughter and grandson. The Haunted Lady

The rest of the month has passed in a blur. The Haunted Lady had just been released by Accent Press, but my alter-ego, William Gordon, has been at it again with another of the Greek Island Romance, Sea Nymph. Cover Sea nymph

All this along with the in-house editor instructing me where to move boxes and furniture following the house move, mowing lawns I didn’t previously have, weeding the garden, and now buying wallpaper and paint. I don’t remember working this hard before I retired; I sometimes wonder how I get time to write!