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Several years ago, I stumbled across a video on social media that changed my life forever. It was of a dog, hanging from a pole, being skinned alive by an unknown man; most of the dog’s flesh was visible; the screams and wails from the dog were of such astronomical agony that I felt my blood freeze, unable to comprehend what I was watching. I thought at first I might have accidentally chanced upon a scene from a (banned) horror film, but it soon became apparent that this horrific video was real and the footage came from the Dog Meat Trade in South East Asia; the tears came fast and furious, the weeping ensued for a number of days. I discovered the torture I had witnessed was a daily occurrence for dogs in countries such as China, Vietnam and South Korea and that was when my venture into this hellhole began, for the seen cannot be unseen, and this was certainly the case here. Further research informed me of exactly what it is that these dogs go through – pets are stolen from their homes, dogs are plucked off the streets, and then transported via trucks to the slaughterhouses; here, they are boiled alive, skinned alive, electrocuted, beaten to death – death is often slow and agonising, because apparently prolonged torture makes the meat ‘taste better’. That the perpetrators should butcher and consume man’s best friend in this manner is shocking enough, but the agony they subject them to is downright evil and inhumane. China, where shockingly evil acts arise in regard to the way they treat their animals, is almost positively shameless in its savagery, as is evident by the recent incident involving a gentle Golden Retriever who was mercilessly beaten to death for several hours by a police officer.
Millions of us around the world own dogs as pets for a reason; the loyalty and love of a dog is second to none. (Don’t get hissy, cat lovers! I haven’t forgotten them; keep reading for more on this). Dogs not only provide comfort and companionship to millions of individuals, but they aid our blind and deaf, assist our police, console those with PTSD and emotional trauma issues, watch over our cattle and fight in our wars. The fact that tens of millions of dogs are tortured and butchered in South East Asia every year is testament to the astonishing lack of gratitude among some humans and a complete and utter refusal to acknowledge the undisputed emotional bond between man and canine. The consumption of the dog, therefore, and the manner in which it’s done is one of the greatest stains on humanity at this time and it is imperative that all of us, dog lover or not, who possesses a conscience of morality takes action to put an end to this heinous trade once and for all. There are some, like Antony Worrall Thompson who recently appeared on Good Morning Britain and peddled his ignorance to millions of British viewers, who take the stand that it is in their culture and we have no right to intervene. Let me make this clear: there is nothing cultural about cruelty. There is nothing that suggests the Dog Meat Trade is anything but a barbaric, cruel and monstrous practice, and anyone who claims otherwise is either lying, morally skewed or ignorant. And most of the time it’s the latter, because the fact of the matter is that most people are good people, and if they were aware of the exact horrors involved in the trade they would toss the culture argument in the bin where it belongs.
Which brings me to the main point of this article. The ignorance surrounding the Dog Meat Trade is huge. I myself was only made aware of it in my mid-20’s and that was purely through accidentally stumbling upon a Facebook video. How many more hundreds of thousands individuals are there out there who, like me prior to 2014, have absolutely no idea the trade even exists? How many of these hundreds of thousands would – if made aware – join us in helping to put an end to this hideous cruelty? It is an evil which flourishes underground and behind closed doors, hidden from sight and that is why it thrives; it can only be defeated if it is brought out into the open. And that is why I have created a campaign called Operation Hound. It is a mass letter demonstration to the President of the United States and absolutely anyone in the world can take part. The intention is to flood the White House with letters, stating our condemnation of the trade in an attempt to generate exposure for it, to draw it into the open so the world can see just how widespread and prosperous this hidden evil is. Millions of South East Asians who love dogs and abhor the trade are desperate for our help; their governments will not listen to them and we must do everything we can to alert our own authorities, in the hope they may be able to exert some influence over nations where this abomination exists.
The fight against the trade should not be limited to activists and dog lovers alone; anyone who believes in a civilised world and objects to acts of cruelty and brutality should join us. If this is you, then please join Operation Hound via the Facebook link below. It is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac; how ironic that the one country that should be honouring them will instead be committing all kinds of devastation and violence on them. With even greater irony, China is set to host the World Dog Show 2019. How many of those watching will be aware of the hell they subject their dogs to? And it’s not just dogs, either – cats, another beloved pet to man, also fall prey to this monstrous cruelty and are very often the forgotten victims of the trade. This is another reason we want Operation Hound to be a success; if we can generate exposure for the dogs then we can move onto the cats as well. So please – join Operation Hound and help us put an end to this barbaric practice once and for all. In the words of Edmund Burke, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. Please do not be one of those who do nothing – stand with us.
LINK TO OPERATION HOUND: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1954614731419993/
A selection of quotes (by me). I’ve always loved quotes, but think it’s about time I indulged in my own musings (bear with me – having a bit of a ‘Miranda Sings’ moment!)
Was it not Oscar Wilde, a great man and hero of mine who said – and I quote! – “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
Our passions are ours alone, a unique blend of experience, emotions, intellect and beliefs; if we can articulate them, then we are duty-bound to do so.
I am thrilled to announce the release of my third novel, a children’s book, ‘The Experiment of Professor Polgas’ in June 2016. Here is the cover for the novel – and what a magnificent cover it is! It is by Luke Ahearn at Creative Covers. I stumbled upon Creative Covers on Facebook one day and one glance at Luke’s prior designs was enough to convince me that his artwork would be an excellent match for my story. With only a few email exchanges, I gave him a rough idea of what I was looking for, including the first few pages of my novel. The result was astounding and better than I could have hoped. It was as though he had ploughed away at my imagination, picked up various, scattered creative bricks in my mind and constructed the perfect model! It is a talent that is hard-pressed to come by and I could find no fault with the final result.
As the author, it is extremely important to me that the cover of my books matches the overall mood/tone to my stories; for this reason, I tend to create my own covers, but this time I took the plunge and branched out. I am, of course, very pleased that I did and count myself very fortunate to have found a cover designer with such a keen eye and intuitive insight into what I was looking for. As well as this, Luke is an extremely courteous, friendly and easy-going person – and fast! I was blown away by the speed with which he worked. He had the final product back to me within a couple of days. I can only say that my experience with Creative Covers has been a fantastic one and I highly recommend him to my fellow authors and anyone looking for an original, creative piece of art. Link here for anyone who’d like to check him out! http://lukeahearn.com/
Keep an eye out, folks – this is my first released children’s novel. It’s a fantasy set in London, the prologue to How the Wolf Lost Her Heart, and revolves around the lives of three teens who are invited to take part in an experiment one day. This experiment changes their lives in ways they never could have imagined. An update to come!
For thousands of dogs in China it’s that time of year again. Puppies will be bought from stores, but not, as you might expect, to go to loving, warm homes; they, along with stolen pets and dogs plucked from the streets, will be boiled alive, skinned alive, burned alive, choked, strangled and mutilated; people will hear their cries and screams, but no one will help them. Because the Yulin Dog Meat Festival exists only to serve the barbarians who torture and consume them for their meat – they justify this barbaric, vile trade by claiming the dogs “taste better” after they are bludgeoned to death and disembowelled.
It is a topic close to my heart, one that makes my stomach lurch every time I think about it, let alone see pictures/videos of it. It’s impossible not to weep as you witness the dogs crammed together in cages, the fear on their faces palpable, not understanding why the humans are doing this to them; it’s futile not to cry when you watch them being thrown into a vat of boiling water, screaming in agony as it rips the fur from their bodies and they flap their paws desperately in an attempt to get out. It is a nightmare of the very worst kind and yet in China, and other countries in South-East Asia such as Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam, it is a very real, very horrific reality. In China alone, an estimated 10-20 millions dogs are murdered for human consumption every year. And each year in the beginning months of Summer, there are those who celebrate the slaughter of these dogs by partaking in a ‘festival’ where they can have a jolly old time and eat to their heart’s content, not once giving a second thought to the suffering and terror that preceded this annual occasion.
It makes me feel sick to be human. Granted, these people have nothing to do with me. I do not know them, I’ve never seen them – I hope to never see them, and God help me if I do. But they are the same species as I; they’re humans. They’re the ones inflicting insurmountable amounts of pain and suffering on these innocent creatures, the same animals that are widely considered to be Man’s Best Friend for the unconditional loyalty and love they give us. In return, our kin torture and murder them. It is the very height of evil and a prime example of how we truly are the most spiritually sick and cruellest of all living creatures on this planet.
But there are good humans among us, too. That’s you, me and every single person on this planet who abhors the unfathomable horror of the dog meat trade. It’s those of us who feel the pain of these animals as though that pain is our own; those of us who understand that the dog has a place in millions of households around the world specifically because he is one of the closest to Man and a part of the family; those of us who firmly believe that the torture and slaughter of millions of dogs is an unforgivable sin and must be stopped at all costs. Yet despite nearly 5 million signatures last year petitioning the Chinese government to put an end to such cruelty, the “festival” continues. The dog meat trade flourishes. Yulin is once again set for June 2016.
We can only do what we can with the tools we were given. And though it may not seem apparently obvious at first, each of us possesses a phenomenal amount of power. We can be the voice that gets louder and louder until we’ve cumulated in one massive roar that will bring the dog meat trade to its knees; while they’re busy torturing our dogs and turning a blind eye to their screams, we’ll be screaming ourselves, letting them know that we will not tolerate this barbaric cruelty any longer. How will we do this? By spreading the word. By making sure our voices are heard; by screaming and bellowing so loudly that they have to stop and listen to us. Some of the louder voices among us, such as celebrities Ricky Gervais and Judi Dench, play an active role in doing what they can to oppose the dog meat trade. Charities such as Soi Dog work tirelessly to save as many dogs as they can from slaughter for human consumption; the courageous leader of The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, Marc Ching, has saved the lives of hundreds of canines, often at great risk to his own life. But they need our help. Humane Society International has now launched a petition appealing to the President of China to end the Yulin Dog Meat tradition this year. It is the first step we must take to save the lives of millions of dogs, to give them a shot at happiness which many of their more fortunate counterparts are lucky to have. Not to leave them condemned to a life of cruelty and slaughter at the hands of those who lack any form of conscience. So for the love of our furry friends, for the sake of our own humanity, please sign the HSI petition below. Let’s be the voice for man’s closest ally; it is a voice so many of them lost when our fellow humans chose to commit the ultimate betrayal – by sentencing them to pain, suffering and death when their only crime was to bestow us with love, kindness and affection.
*Please spread this article and petition far and wide. Together, we can put an end to the brutal dog meat trade. Thank you for signing.*
Great news, everyone! My Young Adult Paranormal Romance with a Dystopian twist ‘How the Wolf Lost Her Heart’ is currently FREE on Amazon today (Wednesday 3rd February) and tomorrow during a special two-day promotional offer! So if you wanted to get your hands on a copy, now would be the perfect time to do so. A run-down London two centuries from now where thugs and criminals rule the city, heroes and heroines who can shapeshift into their spirit animal on command, twists, thrills and a blossoming romance, it’s the perfect read for both Young Adults and Adults alike. Has gathered excellent reviews worldwide since its release last year. Get your copy here while you can!
*Can also be purchased direct from Amazon Eu and Amazon Japan*
It’s funny how, the instant you mention there’s a side of your character which is more spiritual than physical, people automatically assume you’re a crackpot who watches too much Supernatural.
I’ve got a vested interest in other realms, dimensions and entities, because they’re a solid part of my life, just as I have a big interest in more physical matters – politics, human nature, current affairs – because they are also part of my existence. The subconscious mind interests me more than the conscious one does – it holds far more secrets and depths to explore. But one big mistake that people make, particularly in the psychiatric sector, is thinking that the subconscious mind is simply there to obey the conscious mind. That’s not all it’s there for. The subconscious mind is a gateway to the spiritual world and a direct tool we can use to access our soul. It’s what enables us to astral project, lucid dream, see spirits, communicate with spirits and have psychic experiences. Some of this stuff is dangerous and that’s why the subconscious mind remains locked – mankind is still too immature to deal with it.
The only people who don’t believe/scoff at the spiritual world are those who are scared of it, ignorant of it or too arrogant to think there’s anything THEY could not possibly know. Their conscious mind is too powerful – a bit like every average person in society. You can only truly free your mind, both conscious and subconscious, when you free yourself from the constraints of society.
What a year! Not the most exciting, not the most traumatic, not the most enlightening – but definitely the most challenging. From crossing the spiritual mountains in Japan to being thrust into the wild nights of Soho; from personal drama on an extreme scale, to persistence and perseverance towards my goals, which resulted in the publication of my second novel (the most difficult thing I ever had to write – but, by far, the most rewarding); from the conflict, epiphanies, evolution and, above all, the courage and conviction required in the face of adversity. I’m no stranger to challenge, but this was one year where everything I believed in and much I have been striving for was put to the ultimate test. It has been affirmed to me, once again, that love, friendship and loyalty are far superior to the dark forces that threaten to overwhelm us. We didn’t escape totally unscathed – but we won, nonetheless. And that is why much of my end of year message must go towards the gratitude I feel for family and friends – you all know who you are – who stood by my side, fought with me, leant unfailing support during some of the more darker moments and never once abandoned me, though it would have been entirely understandable if they did so. It is a gratitude I hope to repay ten-fold in future days.
Much has been learned, and with it, much gained. There’s been some vital learning curves and hardship that many of us have undertaken – but it has been necessary in order for us to keep climbing those steps towards our full potential. Nor, on a national scale, can we ignore the threat that faces us from enemies that exist, both outside and inside our own borders. To defeat those who wish to do us harm, it is essential we stand together as one strong, fighting force and never waver in our loyalties to each other.
So now we say goodbye to 2015 – the Year of the Goat. One would not have expected the challenges posed in such a year represented by an animal who, by all accounts, is not considered a threat. But the goat is no ordinary barnyard animal – it has its horns, it has its stubborness, it has its fierce braying when under attack. It is a lesson to never underestimate anyone, regardless of who they are or what they appear to be on the outskirts. Now on to 2016, the Year of the Monkey (lucky for all you monkeys out there – and I know a few!). I hope it will be prosperous, fruitful and flourishing for all of you and that each of us continues striving towards all that is good and just in a world that needs compassion and determination more than ever – Happy New Year!
Hey everybody! I am interviewed here by bestselling author, Marysol James. This is one of my favourite interviews yet so please take a look!
Ooooh, a sweet and smart YA Paranormal Dystopian Romance, and one that I really enjoyed! Meet the author, Sarah Brownlee, below…
When did you start writing? What was the first thing that you ever wrote?
I started writing from a very young age – as soon as I could pick up a pen and form a word! The first thing I wrote was a short story about a dragon. No one liked him in the local town because he was so big and ugly, and he went to go live in a cave; he was befriended by a human girl who’d got lost on a hiking trip. No idea how it ended, I’m afraid!
Is writing your full-time job? If not, would you like it to be, and why? If so, what are the most rewarding and challenging parts of full-time independent writing?
I am a part-time author, but…
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There is a saying that exists – “Like attracts like” and, while simplistic in its expression, it is profound in so many other ways. It is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Suikoden and its loyal fan base.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Suikoden series is the strong implementation of morals and values it instills in its storylines. Very often, the main character must make difficult decisions which result in tragic sacrifice; betrayal is not an uncommon theme, but very often such betrayal is not done with the intent to be cruel or selfish; this only serves to highlight the fantastic complexity of characters in this series. Emotion is an important aspect of Suikoden; courage vs cowardice, noble vs dishonour, strength vs weakness. And as emotion is such a crucial focal point of human existence, it is only natural that people who are particularly drawn to such feelings and challenges should be drawn to one another. This, from my experience and observations, is what has brought together the Suikoden family.
Like most families, the Suikoden family has its own share of values and beliefs: loyalty, honour, and the courage to stand up and do what’s right. They are qualities which, in a day and age where self-serving materialism and opportunistic gain lie at the heart of so many, are few and far between. This game has not only brought us hours of joyous play, bestowed us with some of the most beautiful music to grace our ears or tugged at every emotion imaginable; it has provided us with a community of like-minded thinkers and doers; people who embody attributes of the series itself. They are passionate people, dedicated people, courageous people; they have a strong sense of justice, a desire to make a difference and an innate thirst to do what’s right in a world where, so often, things go wrong. They are the type of people who will not sit idly by and do nothing in the face of corruption. They are, in essence, a reflection of the very games that stole their hearts.
The Suikoden family come from all walks of life; different nationalities, different races, different religions, different social backgrounds. They can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies; they can arrange delightful get-togethers, relishing in one another’s company; or they can fight like cat and dog, as many families do. Anyone can join this family and new additions are welcome with open arms. I do not believe I speak only for myself when I say that Suikoden changed me as a human being in more ways than one; this is the phenomenal power of the games and it is a feature that so many of us share.
And now, on the 20th Anniversary of our beloved series, the Stars of Destiny have gathered once more in a family reunion, a community rich with passion which does Suikoden itself justice. I am proud, as ever, to be able to say I am a part of it.
London – a city of the arts, vibrancy and multiculturalism. A place famous for its scattered landmarks and home to some of the most affluent individuals, both living and deceased. From the Dickensian streets to the regal abode of Buckingham Palace, this is one metropolis that has lain at the heart of many tourists’ desires, a place rich in history which very often holds out a welcoming hand to those who wish to explore its wealth of diversity, as they mingle with Londoners and residents alike.
But imagine a time where the attractions of this charismatic city vanish. Where thugs and hooligans rule the roost. Where ordinary citizens are afraid to leave their homes for fear of being attacked or murdered.Where a decline in morals and basic respect for our fellow man takes a dramatic tumble. And where, in the early twenty-third century, a fourth English Civil War brews menacingly under the surface, leading towards a clash of blood and fire that has not been seen since the dark days of the Cavaliers and Roundheads.
In the sequel to my debut novel, ‘How the Wolf Lost Her Heart’ this is the grim reality of a future London. ‘How the Tiger Faced His Challenge’ is the second book in my Young Adult Dystopian series and focusses on the inevitable war between the Renzo stronghold in the west and the Pearson family in the east. This book is darker than the first and much more sinister, but it is a roller-coaster of honour, love and betrayal that is guaranteed to set your heart pumping. Since its release in 2014, ‘How the Wolf Lost Her Heart’ has done extremely well, garnering praise and fans around the world and currently sitting with over 70 5* and 4* reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca. Now, the story of Morphers Skye Archer and Raphael Renzo continues in this exciting, action-packed sequel. Right now, the Kindle book sits at $3.00 for the American and Canadian versions and £1.99 for the UK version. Do get your hands on a paperback copy if you can though – it’s entirely worth it, if only for the striking cover! Below is an excerpt from the novel – enjoy!
‘There was a sudden, explosive bang outside which caused everyone to jump.
“What was that?” said Ricardo, alarmed.
Another ear-splitting boom blasted off in the distance, far more deafening than a clap of thunder and much more sinister. Every man in the room leapt to his feet. Seconds later, several more bangs followed. Raphael dashed to the window, his eyes darting frantically around outside to see if he could get a clue of what had made the noises.
“What the hell’s going on?” he exclaimed.
And then they heard it. The horn.
It was an ancient variation of a bugle horn that had been in the Renzo family for generations, dating all the way back to the 1600’s during the time of the English Civil War when Oliver Cromwell and his Roundheads had fought King Charles I and his Cavaliers. Raphael’s oldest of ancestors had been a general in the Cavalier Army; it was said that he had died in battle having leapt in front of the king himself, taking a bullet to the chest. The general had been honoured by the king with a memorial plaque (which was later desecrated and demolished by the Roundheads after the execution of the king) and this bugle horn, which was formally presented to the general’s family. For centuries, it remained the most precious of family heirlooms and, in recent times, Lord Renzo had announced that when the time came for arms to be taken against the Pearsons, or when the enemy launched their attack, the horn would be blown, amplified by modern-day technological equipment so the blasts would echo across the entire city.
Now, this same horn resounded throughout the City of London. It penetrated the eardrum of every man, woman and child; and for those within the Renzo stronghold, there was only one possible conclusion they could come to.
“This means…” said Raphael, his voice trailing off.
“Yes,” said Trey, sounding gritty and determined.
They stared round at one another, realization sinking in.
The war had begun.’
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