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We Were Men


We were men, of passion and honour, courage and fear. We did what we were told and were derided for it. Yet still, we did what was asked again and more, so much more. We were boys of the valleys and boys of the town, country boys and townies. We didn’t care, we welcomed all without prejudice. For in the end, we were a family. We looked out for each other; it was so natural, so obvious. Watch their back and they watch yours. Protect your own, your brothers.
Many of us were not from this land. Stafford and Manchester, Oxford, the Emerald Isle, they all provided us with their sons and we embraced them like our own, for they were part of us in the end. They sang our songs, they played, they laughed and they stood proud. They never disgraced us, nor we them. We taught them the hwyl and they embraced it like the men they were.

Welsh, they called us and we bathed in the fire of the red dragon. We sang the hymns of our forefathers and listened to the minister, fresh from chapel. We spoke in our tongue, the hiraeth burning in our hearts. The longing for our homeland was strong, but together we were stronger and we had power.

Policemen, we were and farmers. Lawyers and Dockers. Men of rugby, men of books, poets and Pals. We laughed and cried, ate and smoked together. For that was our lot. Thrown into the ruined land and told to make our people proud, that is what we did. We made sure they would never forget us and they will not. They will sing our praises for a hundred years and more. For they will know that we were men and our mettle could never be quenched.
When the call came and we knew it was our time, we did not flinch or turn away. We sang our hymns, we said our prayers and we waited for the time to show our worth. Where we could show all the doubters what we were: good honest men.

As the smoke lay across the valley and the whistles blew, we rose to a man and climbed out of our haven, to walk towards the trees. Nobody flinched and no-one turned, though the path was hard and our way was blocked. We did what we were asked again and again and again. ‘Lloyd George’s Welsh Army’ they sneered, yet we cared not. We kept walking through the hail of metal and mist. We fought until we could fight no more.
Many lived to sing in joy and return to their loved ones in the land of their birth. Many laid down to sleep, their work done. Sons and husbands, fathers and brothers, we all did our best and saw the job through until the end, until the dragon stood proud over that land.

Four thousand of our brothers gave their all in honour and glory to lie down forevermore in those 8 days of July 1916.

At Mametz Wood.

When the writer’s block happens….

It’s all there. You have a story planned, perhaps not all of it is in place, but you have the stepping stones to take you most of the way. Perhaps you know where it will end. It’s all flowing quite well, (that’s very well in writer speak.) You may have discovered a few twists and turns on your journey that you hadn’t foreseen. One or two of your characters may have stood up along the way and sent you down the path with renewed strength. They may have shown you more scenic routes or even a path you did not know that was there. It’s a big adventure. You know where you’re going and it all rocks. Then you hit the glass wall.

You are there in it with your characters. Urban or rural, past or present, intimate or remote. Whatever the setting, you know what milepost you have to reach next. You may be able to see it, tantalising in the distance. A horizon beyond which is the next stone, but something stands up and gets in the way. The more you try, the worse it gets and you end up standing still. What can you do?

How do you find the map, to plot the way round? Sometimes you can manage to nudge the plot forward a tiny step, but it feels nothing more than a slide along the side of the glass wall. You feel you’re still treading water. The view can get blurred or perhaps the path looks even further away. Mentally, you feel exhausted, barren or strained. Maybe all three. You push for progress, yet nothing happens.

It’s not a new phenomenon. J K Rowling didn’t invent it when she hit the wall during the writing of the Half-Blood Prince, for example. Nor did she make it fashionable, unless you happen to be a tabloid journalist. I don’t think she’d wish it on anyone, to be honest (writer’s block, that is – not tabloid journalism). It’s a shock to the system, an unbearable tension as you wish to move on, but can’t.

Writing is a mood thing. You’ve got to be in the mood to do it any justice. So many things happen to us in our day to day lives which can upset the balance and influence us. They may be the kind of things that quench the free spirit and suppress creativity. We try to be stronger and push through, but there’s nothing in the tank. We have to recognise that you can’t just switch off the outside. You could be tired, you could be stressed. You could just be distracted by greater priorities in life. Don’t panic, every writer gets that moment. Don’t forget your labour of love is your work of art, you wouldn’t turn the marathon into a sprint, certainly not in its early stages.

Do we feel we are cheating ourselves or flattering our ego by thinking we are cheating our audience in this lack ofproductivity? But maybe, just maybe, if we were to give ourselves a bit of time, leave everything be for a while, perhaps we’d come back fresher. Like having that long sleep after a series of sleepless nights. You feel so much better for it.

The block is there for a reason. Your mind isn’t ready to take the story further. Give it a rest, relax. Let it go.
Recognising the block for what it is is a good start. Then realising you can’t just take a run at it. Take your time, take a break if you need to. Move onto other projects. You can always go back later, it will be still there, waiting for when you are ready.

I’ll stop now. This has taken seven days to write. Too much going on, obviously 🙂

An editor’s tale

I received this in conversation with Kay Green of Circaidy Gregory Press and I thought it was so good that I had to share it. An insight for us writers about the importance of editing

Proof reading is one of the reasons editors are needed – it’s hard to correct your own work because you already know it so well you read what is supposed to be there, rather than what is.

At a deeper level, the same is true of fiction editing. I constantly hark back to a fantastic lecture I went to by Beverley Birch, writer and editor of novels for children. She had an extended metaphor running through the whole lecture in which the writer was a film director, the editor a producer and – well, editor.

But the difference is in what has already been made in the writer’s head. When you write a novel, by the end of the first draft the story is complete in your head, as a film or, as internal films are most commonly known, a ‘daydream’. You can see it all perfectly, and the words you write and re-write are the imperfect pencil lines on that bit of tracing paper. The problem is that you, the author, cannot switch off the film completely – it’s indelibly in your head – so you cannot see what the words alone look like when the tracing paper (your ms) is moved away from the original (your daydream). Only your editor can do that.

The importance of being Edited

A while back, long before Forest Brothers was more than just an idea, I went to a writing festival in Winchester. A weekend of writing lectures and one to ones. Stunning town, beautiful cathedral and the festival itself was quite fun. Highly recommended actually, I learnt a lot.

One point was not to approach every opportunity as it being the ‘do or die’ moment. Getting 15 minutes with somebody deemed important is great, albeit a bit artificial, like a cold call. It doesn’t kill your writing career when someone says no. I realised people use so many different routines to achieve their final manuscript. So the next time someone tells you ‘this is how to write fiction’, you do have a right to say; ‘Thanks, but this is how I write fiction.’ Editing may be necessary, no is necessary – a second opinion who hasn’t lived the novel for the past few years is always handy to tell you where things could be tightened, added or taken away.

I laugh now at the agent who flicked through the first 17 pages of my manuscript, before jabbing her finger on page 18 and exclaiming ‘Start there!’ At the time i wondered how her speed-reading powers were so great, until she followed it up by explaining that Prologues were not part of the story. Well, that one wasn’t, cobbled on as a vanity project to dramatise a scene from my family’s past. Maybe it will stand alone in its own right as an essay one day. On being linked to the front of a saga about lead miners in Cardiganshire, a farmer’s wife in Barmouth having a fling with a Spanish sailor (true story, mind you!) didn’t move the plot along or introduce the protagonists straight away so that you got to join them ontheir journey. A useful piece of advice, I have only written one prologue since and it was the end scene of a story. Designed of course to make you join the man when he said ‘how the hell did I get here’ and make you read on.

Back in Winchester, the speakers were interesting, mostly trying to emphasise their points with pieces from their own work. This again made a lot of sense – what other piece of work do you know so intimately. Well perhaps you could reach for a piece about a boy wizard, a hobbit or a British agent. (I haven’t invented a new variation of the Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman joke there, btw). Authors are more comfortable with their own work – hey, you might buy some of it too if they’ve done a good job with the seminar!

I remember two things that showed me the other side of writing. The one when you start believing your own press, gaining an addiction to luvvydom. I sat down to breakfast and a jolly elderly lady came over to join me. On being asked whether she was here as a delegate or a speaker (well, I didn’t quite get to the speaker bit), there followed a pained monologue about how she was a prolific children’s author with over 50 novels published. The tone was veiled very thinly with outrage. I still don’t know who she was. Don’t think I ever read one of her books in my 40s (as I was in Winchester), but then again, she had never read one of mine either.

A particular author read passages from one of his novels to emphasise hoistorical research, something I am very keen to subscribe to for obvious reasons. He finished with a long piece about a funeral of a famous Briton. At the end, he slowly put a bookmark into his work. Then with an equal pace, he closed the book and looked up with… hey, I thought the earth had stopped rotating for a second. ‘There you are,’ he said. ‘Write like that and you’ll earn yourself a few bob.’

I admit I learnt a lot from that talk. mainly ‘Don’t piss off your audience by acting like an arrogant toss-pot.’ Also, ‘always check for a sick bucket in case the speaker has disappeared up his own backside’. I hated the way this prose was fed to me that here was a masterpiece, I must bow to its splendour. Hang on, bro. That’s my call. If I like your work, I’ll decide that. if I think it’s lacking, I’ll decide that also, thanks very much.

And not that the Winchester festival needed defence, because it was a really good learning curve with lots of positive speakers and friendly, good advice given.

At the moment, as you might have guessed, I am involved in the editing process of a manuscript. I enjoyed this part previously, because there is still a child-like thrill as to where we will end up. The opinions of an experienced editor are very insightful. I am not averse to suggestions, these people are taking up their precious time to enhance my work. Sometimes things get rewritten a bit. Sometimes bits that haven’t been highlighted stand out as needing development from the edit. Some scenes may be lost or watered down. Others may arrive from that part of the corner of my mind. Suddenly, the labour of love you have slaved over for many a year is being looked at from a different angle and its a refreshing and exciting experience that you miss when it’s all completed. I hope I never get to the Bob phase and forget that.

NB For those of you expecting to stumble on some GBS monologue, I shall leave you with this thought.

A handbag.

Current work

My last post detailed the prequel planned for Forest Brothers. I can also report that there is also a planned sequel, currently untitled. The story will feature Juhan being recruited to catch Godfrey, now a fugitive in the north of Scotland. Teamed up with a British agent, he follows the trail as the web unravels into something much bigger than was imagined. he is aided by his parents, also Jan and the crew of his Shetland Bus.

Currently though, I have begun to prepare another novel for publication. ‘The Promise’ is a story of a young man forced to flee from his rural mining village near Aberystwyth. Set in the late Victorian period, it relates his struggle to find his place in the blossoming railway trade and his hopes to rediscover his family. The Promise won a prize at the 2012 Aber Valley Arts festival in the ‘Welsh novel’ category.

More information will follow…!

Finnish Boys update

Once Forest Brothers was completed, I was asked what I would do next. The story was written as a one off, but there were a few people out there wanting to know more. I had moved on to my next project, a different setting, a different time period. I had started the writing process and my creative mind was elsewhere. But after a while, the desire began to gather within me to create more of the story, to find out for myself more of the Estonian tale.

This time I chose to create a back story. I knew that when i chose the time period of 1944 for Forest Brothers, I had picked a time of turmoil in Estonia. I also knew that they had suffered greatly for the previous 4 years as two armies coveted the land. Historically, Estonia suffered an earlier torment in 1940, after Von Ribbentrop and Molotov had carved up the East between their nations. First Stalin annexed the country, before Hitler felt strong enough to beat them back. This was a moment in Estonian history which my Estonian characters would have lived through. I wanted to explore what happened to them and how they became the people they were in Forest Brothers. I also wanted to give some of the lesser characters a chance to come to life. Finnish Boys was born.

The story begins in 1940 on the eve of the Red Terror. In that one night, 10,000 people were rounded up from all across Estonia and shipped by trains to Siberian camps. Military, police, teachers, but also anyone potentially capable of organising any shred of resistance. Names were drawn up and the Soviet plan to break down society went forward. On this evening, Mart is warned he is on the list. The bearer of the news gives him a chance to escape, by taking her and her English boyfriend to the North coast and an escape to Finland. He agrees, but only if he can warn his estranged wife, Maarja, first. The lives of Mart, Maarja, Juhan are brought to life once more, as their flight is swept up into the events when two foreign armies fight over a sovereign nation and loyalty and trust are used and abused. Peetr, Raio and Sven – the cameo figures in Forest Brothers are also brought to life and you get a glimpse of their journey, especially the melancholic Peetr. You also get to meet Liisbet a young red, turned rebel to save her English Lover, known as Monty.

I am expecting Finnish Boys to be ready at the end of this year and will of course, publish updates.

The Finnish Boys were a unit of Estonians who had escaped Soviet occupation to fight for the Finnish Army. Although allied with Germany in the fight against Stalin, the unit ended up repelling an attempt at liquidation to allow 2,000 refugees to escape from the forests of Kautla. In a conflict where both armies were guilty of atrocities, this action stands out as one of humanitarian action.

The problem now I have is have i chosen the right title? The repetition of using a title of two words beginning F and B, makes it harder for the prequel, which I have just finished its first draft!

There will be further news about another writing project soon. I have another project set in Edwardian Mid Wales. Stay tuned!

An interview with Rod Duncan

This week’s blog is slightly dfferent. I have an exclusive interview with me old mucker, Rod duncan. I’ve known Rod for a year or 45 and have always been admiring of his work. Rod established himself with his “Riot Trilogy”, each of which examine the same riot, on one day in Leicester, from the experience of a different character.

Rod has now moved into the mystical world of Steampunk. His first novel ‘The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter’ was nominated for the prestigious (2014) Philip K Dick award. ‘The Custodian of Marvels’, is the third book in the ‘Gas-lit empire’ series,’ and will be released in February.

Writing is a very personal process and there is no set path for achieving your creation. I asked Rod how he prepared and wrote his novels and this is our conversation below:

Where do your ideas come from?

I’m a curious person. Some people might call me nosy. But that’s probably not any different from most novelists. When I see things that interest me, I investigate. And then – after a period of time – an idea will pop into my head. I might not at first be able to tell where it came from. It’s like a dream, in that way. I have to really think about it before I realise what the spark was. It might have been something I saw a month ago. A year ago. Sometimes the inspiration goes right back to my childhood.

If I had to give one moment of inspiration for the novels of the Gas-Lit Empire, it would be a small street in Leicester where the road surface had been broken up by the frost. The Tarmac had come away, giving a glimpse of the cobbled road surface below. That started me thinking about the Victorian world and the contemporary world both being present at the same time. And that gave rise to the idea behind the alternate history that underpins the novels.

How do you plan the novel?

I come up with an idea for the main beats of the story – a starting point, a couple of the main transitions and an ending point. On that basis, I start to write. My hope is that I discover a few new things about the story each time I sit down to write. But I don’t have a detailed idea of what is going to happen. Not until I’m almost at the end.

How do you carry out your research?

Since this is a fantastical alternate history, I am at liberty to make stuff up. Having said that, all this is based on things that happened and historical processes, so I do need to read as well. But the story will come from knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. I tend to do research to fill in gaps or to get a more sensory experience of the thing that I’m describing.

A lot of that is on the Internet these days. But there’s nothing to beat direct experience. The characters in my latest novel, The Custodian of Marvels, were picking locks. So I had to go at it myself.

Do you visit places or read about them?

It’s surprisingly how much you can do without visiting a place. Google Street View is a wonderful tool. So is Google’s image search. But they won’t give you the sounds and smells and textures. So visiting the place is always the best thing to do if you can.

Do you write in a linear way (ie start to finish) or do you write some pieces stand alone?

I like to write in a linear way. But later on in a series of books, plotting can become quite complicated. You end up with a lot of different story threads to work with. And The Custodian of Marvels is built around a heist story. That is a technical challenge in itself. So with this novel I did end up writing some things out of sequence.

Do you think your characters have traits based on real people?

I’m not aware of giving my characters that traits of people I know. But the subconscious mind is a strange thing, so who knows? There might be a little bit of you in there somewhere. And certainly a little bit of me.

Have you ever taken an event from your life and adapted it?

Yes. But the relationship with the real event is always very tenuous. Reality provides the spark. The imagination burns where it will.

What is your editing process?

I edit as I go along. I wouldn’t advise other people to do this. If I could break the habit, I would. It makes my writing very slow. And I on occasion written a chapter and spent time polishing it, only later to discover that it didn’t have a place in the novel.

When I’m editing, I read everything aloud to myself many times, listening for how it sounds. I would certainly recommend that approach.

How do you judge success?

That’s a very good question. An insightful question. The first criteria of success is my own judgement. Do I think that I’ve written a better book than my last one? The second is the reaction of other writers, who I share my work with at an early stage. If they like it, I feel successful. And then, of course, there is the judgement of the wider world. Publication, reviews and maybe shortlisting for an award or two.

But it’s wise not to get too focused on all that glitter. A couple of weeks ago a reader who I’d never met emailed to thank me for writing one of my novels, saying it had been significant to her in a particular way. For me, that is the highest standard of success – to touch someone’s life in a positive way.

What advice would you give to new novelists?

If you have the urge to write, don’t hold back. Writing a novel is an extraordinary process. It will change you. Through it, you will learn to see the world with greater intensity. You’ll learn about yourself and about other people. Perhaps you’ll make it big and get into the bestseller lists. But if that becomes your focus, it will always feel like a struggle. Even when you are bestseller. So, focus instead on being a little bit better at it each day. And enjoy the ride.

Will we see more books about the Gas-lit empire?

With the Custodian of Marvels, the first series is complete. But yes, there will be more to come in the Gas Lit Empire. And you will see more of Elizabeth, the protagonist.

A crisp morning

I dug this up the other day, it won a runner up prize at BBC Radio Northampton in 2007. i got to record it at the BBC, butnever got to hear it. Ho hum. The piece was set out as a prologue for a longer piece of work that may happen in the future. After 3 years of being locked out of their workplace, the strike at the Penrhyn slate quarry in Bethesda has collapsed and the men return to work. It was a terrible chapter of history in the region, one that ruined a community and its people. On that day, many people tried to stand tall above the ruins, but many were dying inside.


It’s a crisp morning, there’s dew on the grass already and my breath steams in the air as I slip out of the house. No lamps, I don’t want to be seen, let alone caught by those who would do me harm. I don’t need light where I’m going anyhow, I’ve trod that path for so many years I could do it blind.

Was that a noise? I stop to listen to the rustle in a bush. Then the sound of padded feet, claws clicking on the road ahead. A fox more than likely, looking for scraps. He’ll have a hard time, there’s not much spare around these days.

Must move on, get there in time. It’s bad enough hiding from your former friends, but without your own son knowing, that hurts. Not that he’ll notice much, he’s not spoken to me since I took that cursed sovereign. All for nothing in the end, more fool I.

Have to be careful now, there’s always police on the prowl these days. There to protect me, I’m told, but we’re all Welsh scum to them anyhow.

The mountain draws me. I need to climb above the quarry. Then I’ll be ready, where they can all see me and be happy with it. Shame those who have brought us to this misery won’t be there, but they wouldn’t dare come within a mile on a day such as this.
They won’t bother me now. Too stupid not to think that someone would go this way.

Thought I had a problem at first, the moon came out and the town was all awash with silver light. I had to move fast to find the shadows but I saw no-one, heard no-one. Doesn’t matter, I’m away from them all now.

It’s a steep path to take and my body is working hard. Even though I could afford more than bread and tea, my body is weak and I am desperate to cough out the muck from my lungs. I breathe through my nose, short sharp breaths. The urge gets stronger and I move fast, hand over mouth. Finally, I reach a quiet spot and spit out. I crouch there for ages waiting, there’s still no noise.

I’m up the hill now and over the fence, no-one knows this way in. I reach my spot and I lie there waiting. The grass is damp, the ground cold, but it feels good. I catch a sob in my throat, God made this earth so beautiful and all we can do back is to tear it apart, tearing ourselves in two in the bargain.

I’ve been up here before, many times in fact. Always to catch the morning and watch the sun break as it lights up the land in a golden glow. The light begins to brighten and I can make out the grey clouds in the morning sky, it matches our lives. I raise my head and look, resting my hands under my chin. I want to see this day begin, I want to see this one morning more than ever before. The sun breaks through the clouds, bringing the valley to life. What a picture! Tears fall down my face, for it’s so beautiful. I wish Mair was with me to see it, but there it is. Wishes don’t pay your bills.

I watch as the day gets brighter and the quarry opens. I see the gates open and the men slowly trudge in, weak from the years of strike. They prepare once more to face the hardships of this damned hole. All the while, the light grows brighter and the land around unlocks its beauty in the sunshine. A group of men are singing a hymn. The music faintly reaches me, though I cannot make out the words. Some are obviously trying to raise the spirits of their brethren, to try and fill their hearts with hope for the future and make light of such a stark defeat, for defeat it is. Three years, three long years of suffering, of turning the town into a den of hatred. For what, I ask you? What was gained? Nothing! What was lost? Everything!

The sun’s warmth on my back makes me feel sleepy. I could doze here in the glow, with the faint breeze caressing my head, but I know its not possible. I’m here for a reason, I need to put an end to all that’s happened. It feels like hours that I lie there for, but finally I sit up.

There’s a shout, perhaps someone has seen me? Better if they do, then they’ll know. I left the sign in the window as I left the house. Nid oes BRADWYR yn y ty hwn. No traitors in this house. There won’t be, because I’m not going back. The boy’s better off without me and well, there’s no-one else to worry about.

I stand close to the edge, it’s a fair drop, perhaps I should take a run at it. Perhaps I would drop further down the galleries that way? No, here is fine. There’s a shout, I can’t hear the words, but it may as well be ‘jump, you bastard!’. That’s what they feel after all and I agree with them. It’s gone on far too long, now’s the time to have an end to it.

I look across the land once more, the green fields beyond Bethesda. So beautiful they are. Why do I have to leave them? Why does it have to end this way? What the hell did I do to get here in the first place? I take a deep breath and my mouth tightens. My throat is dry and my heart races. I can hear it beating in my ears.

Then I realise, there are footsteps behind me, soft but rapid ones. I feel the breath on my back and the hand on my shoulder. I feel the pressure making my body lurch forward and I begin to fall…

Have you ever appeared in my writing?

There’s a question. Does anybody recognise themselves – or others? Do writers go out of their way to write about people they know? The music world had ‘You’re so vain’ and spent decades trying to get Carly Simon to explain who it was – it turned out to be at least three people and I am sure they weren’t joined at the hip.

I must admit having read Malcolm Pryce’s film-noir novels about Aberystwyth, I have stopped and thought ‘I know that character’. I am of the same age group, give or take a year or so, and the same town. I do recognise some familiar traits in people who appear in the books, but are they true mannequins of the flesh and blood individuals? I don’t think so.

For me, when writing, I like to feel the emotion of a character. This did stop me writing a novel set in the Penrhyn Quarry strike once, as it made me feel too down!

Many of my scenes are set in a time or an event that I cannot compare notes on, so I have to use what I have felt in past times. I’ve never been in a train crash (God willing), but I have had the misfortune to suffer a crash in the back of a car that rolled to a standstill. I remember the helplessness, the slow motion and falling into shock. It’s all useful for a scene.

I have also found that real life can sometimes offer better plot directions when adapted to your stories. I’m not thinking Darwin Awards here, let’s face it, some realities are just plain bizarre. No, there have been sometimes experiences in life that have helped generate scenes. Conversations that have stuck in the memory. In the Forest Brothers novel, there is a scene at the Hill of Crosses on Hiiumaa. I do describe what I felt on my own personal visit there.

Sometimes events in the newspapers of the past that have helped form the nucleus of a storyline. Long lost mini dramas that can add to the plot. The witness reports of the shelling of Talinn is an example.

They do say the protagonist in your first written novel is yourself. I don’t recognise it in the story (Forest Brothers was my fifth written work, by the way), others might. Everything’s subjective. I think my characters are all made up. I don’t think I’ve ever met them.Or at least not completely. I may have borrowed a scene or two, a conversation may be adapted. In all of my 53.5 years, I have had millions of conversations, scenes, events. Even then, most times, the story is still reliant on what I can create purely from my imagination.

So have you appeared in one of my novels? Sadly not. Does a situation look familiar? Possibly, but only for a moment. Do the stories feature any fiction created by myself? Of course. My novels do have a historical background, that much is set in stone, the human story is always woven around those constraints.

Nous sommes Charlie

“I feel an immense sadness but above all anger. We can argue over liberty, but when we’re in disagreement we respond to art with art, to wit with wit. We never respond to a drawing with blood. No! Never. These victims are martyrs, and I shall pray for them with all my heart.”

Hassen Chalghoumi, the Muslim imam of Drancy, Paris

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Martin Luther King

“Judge people by their best, not their worst.”
Henry van Dyke

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
― Robert Fulghum

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
― Paulo Coelho

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank